After the last of the wrapping paper was scrapped and the boxes tossed out, I lined toys up against the wall, I stashed them in corners. I tidied. I didn't clean. Why? Because it's scary, that's why. And I was left with this. Until finally yesterday, I couldn't take it anymore. I began the hours-long, post-Christmas cleanup.
I got lots of good advice.
Do it at night, they said. That way it's quicker, your kids aren't messing things up as soon as you straighten them, and there are no fights about which toys we are giving away.
Excellent plan, but I'd never do it. My kids don't go to bed until 10 p.m. and when I finally lay their sweet, annoying little heads down on those pillows, I am not cleaning. I am done for the day.
Have them help you pick out old toys they don't want anymore to give away, they said.
Fantastic idea. Teach them sharing and charity. They're not going to miss the toys once they're gone, right? Only they do. My children have the uncanny ability to miss something that has been knowingly given away, I think, just to mess with me. The musical seahorse they got when they were three months old? Suddenly at three and a half, they want to listen to his lullabyes again. Why? Because I gave him away six months ago, and they remembered yesterday, as we went through their toys again.
That doll they never played with once? Well, wouldn't you know they were going to start playing with it tomorrow?
Even pieces of toy sets for infants, like a little ladybug with a mirror on the bottom that had long lost its mobile. They were using it, dammit, mom!
It's not a one-time remembrance, either. I think my children have a built-in Excel spreadsheet containing every toy they've ever owned. Sometimes they'll even ask me to bring back their cribs. Why? Because they're theirs.
Anyway, three hours later, the girls had played with every old ball, every random action figure, every car, every Barbie and every piece of plastic fruit in our house. I had a white trash bag of trash, and a white trash bag of giveaways. I had to promise Lilly I wasn't going to throw them out, but simply store them. Because she really needed the old popped-out bubble wrap from two years ago, she swore.
I was cranky and tired and irritable. The house now looked like this:
Boy, it looks almost the same, doesn't it? It looks like it should have taken me 30 minutes, not three hours, right? No, I agree with you. It's certainly not what I was expecting when I started the task. I thought it would take an hour and be...cleaner, somehow.
This is what I was talking about yesterday. But I know my plight well enough to still feel a sense of accomplishment about this. It was hard work, and I did it.
And it lasted until 7 a.m. this morning, when they woke up. I think that's a record.
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