Advent 2014

I have obviously not kept up very well with blogging this fall. While we as a family seem to be getting acclimated to our new home and life, I have found myself still feeling very much in transition. That’s why I am so happy that it is now Advent. I have known that Advent starts the new church year for quite awhile, but this year, I am especially eager to start a new year. I need the chance to refocus my thoughts away from the transition of the last year and on to what good things are yet to come.

One of the challenges I keep facing over and over is “not getting enough done” as a stay at home mom. The days fly by, and it seems like my to-do list at best stays the same length and at worst gets longer. I also find myself focusing too much on the to-do list and not enough on time with the kids, or even concentrating on whatever task I am currently working at. So to get ready for this Advent, I went ahead and made a huge, multi-page to-do list for the next year or so. I divided up the things I wanted to get done into categories (for example, crafts I wanted to make, household chores that needed to get done) and then I tried to choose just a few of the major things to focus on right now: celebrating Advent/getting ready for Christmas, and trying to complete “moving into” our new house. These are two fairly large items, and there are of course other small things that have cropped up and will continue to do so, but I’m hopeful that by focusing on a few things, I can feel less adrift and frenzied. I’m also hoping that this approach will help me to look at the different seasons in the year and in life, and recognize what tasks are appropriate to focus on in this season–and which ones to drop for now.

I do hope to get back into blogging, but right now, that’s not one of my top priorities, so I’m going to limit it to book posts for now. In the meantime, I will be trying to enjoy and do the work of this Advent season.

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Mind Games with the Clutterbug

We have a good bit of clutter in our house. A lot of it is semi-controlled: We have a box in the front hall where most of the shoes land as we come in the door, and another for corralling scarves, mittens, hats, etc. (actually being used this winter!). Almost all of the kids’ clothes that are in their dressers fit them at this time, even if they are shoved into the drawers haphazardly.

There’s lots of clutter that’s not really controlled at all: The toys spend a good deal of time strewn around the floor no matter how many different ways I try to organize them in easy-to-put-away systems. Our art supplies (especially the coloring books) are threatening to take over the house and need to be weeded. And don’t even get me started on our bookshelves.

All of this, though, I manage to live with without too much stress. I organize a little when I have time, inclination, and a reasonable idea about how to proceed. Otherwise, I live with the clutter. Toys are just going to be out because they are there to be played with, not to sit in their bins. My husband and I can usually find the books we want if we look carefully enough. Life creates clutter, and that’s that.

The clutter that I seem to have the most trouble with, though, is clutter I don’t even see on a regular basis. It’s the things that I’ve saved for one reason or another, they build up, and I only notice them when I need to add to their ranks…birthday cards, music programs, car maintenance paperwork, etc. There’s no reason why this stuff should bug me as much as it does. Life creates clutter. I go through it when I can. It clutters up more. The cycle continues.

I think I feel like it’s hanging over me because some of it has been around for so long…I have at least a few letters from elementary school and all my dance recital programs starting from 1st grade. Another contributor to the stress may be the impending possibility of moving this summer…we still won’t know for a while yet, but we are slowly starting to get things ready to move, and that brings the clutter to the forefront. I’m sure another reason is because I like to organize, but I don’t seem to have the knack for it that others do…just like my Pinterest board (that I don’t remember how to log into) will never have more than about 10 pins, I’m never going to have my house perfectly organized.

Whatever the reason, I’m trying to stop stressing out about it now. Life creates clutter. Yes, it sometimes needs to be pruned, corralled, and kept in line. But it’s not worth spending my mental energy on worrying about the clutter instead of the things that make life life. Playing and reading with my kids. Hanging out with my husband. Reading and writing and knitting. Doing the daily chores that make the household work. Baking a special dessert. Writing letters to friends.

Yes, the file cabinet and the boxes of cards will stay on my “to-do” radar. But I’m saying no to trying to have or keep everything in perfect order. There’s too much other life to live.