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Simplify: Start the New Year with a Resolve to Ask and Enjoy

We are finally returning to our everyday ZagZig life after zigzagging through the holidays. Two of the kids have returned to their lives out of state/country, the other two are back in school, and earlier in the week the last of our houseguests departed for their own homes, including the extra dog.

I absolutely LOVE family and a house full of relatives, friends and loves ones, and I have to admit that I love the simplicity in the aftermath of it all.

At this point in life, I am thrilled to get an “act of service” instead of a gift under the tree. I would take a “mom” coupon book – you know, the homemade ones the kids made for Mother’s Day in the elementary school days that included stapled sheets of paper, “good for one hug or one chore.” Note to self to dig through my mom-keeper file and find these and redeem them. (Good thing my kids did not know about expiration dates when they made them.)

This holiday season, in between the teens and young adults sleeping ‘til 12 noon and then waiting for me to make them their favorite lunch - I think food is their favorite love language at this point in life - I had hoped they would follow through on my gentle ask to go through their closets sometime during break. As the kids have grown, I enjoy the end results of a de-cluttered closet, a trip to the Goodwill and passing on items to relatives and friends that would enjoy a re-gift or give it new life.

In the younger years, it was toys that filled the house and usually at least one was hiding in each room. Maybe not hiding from me, but somehow the toys made it out of the play room, bed room, family room and found a corner of the piano room or home office. These days, as the kids are more independent, it is not so much Legos, trucks or dolls that fill closets, but clothes, shoes or personal memory items - some too small, some no longer cool and some beloved items that just need to go.

Despite the fact that my husband has been the primary at home parent for years, when it comes to simplifying, cleaning out closets and de-cluttering, I am the motivator. This would be okay, if ANY of the other five family members remotely aligned with my plan. I held out hope this holiday break, thinking the two kids that primarily live outside of the house could have a pretty easy job. After all, they left their least favorite items at the house, right?

They had friends to see, errands to run and of course they knew my weakness when they said, “Mom, would you rather us clean our closets or spend time with our cousins?” If I am being honest, I anticipated that one as they know I value and prioritize family. I did not expect my husband, however, to say, “C’mon hon, the kids are only home for two weeks. We have plenty of time to take care of the house.” While he had a valid point, I did develop my house project plan in October with a goal of completing it by yearend. This is a goal my husband had agreed to, yet with 2017 closing in, he high-fived the kids and they played a card game.

As the sound of laughter reached me while cleaning my own closet I smiled. For sure that is what the holidays are all about, spending time together in love, joy and laughter.

Fortunately, my sister shares my joy in simplifying. She jumped in and over time - and in time - found opportune moments to work with the kids. I stopped yelling, the donation bags piled up in the hallway and I could actually walk in rooms and closets with space to walk. Ahhh – that was nice and the best present ever that keeps giving today!

It does take a village to raise children and thankfully my sister is part of that village. Over the years, I have embraced that at times I need help, and asking for it is not a sign of weakness. I wish I knew that a lot sooner in life, during the yelling, pleading and bribing moments; the moments I argued with my three-year-old about eating what was made for dinner, or fighting with my pre-teen about planning ahead or my teen-ager about homework.

The kids are safe and healthy and mom is happy that at least four rooms are clear of clutter. In the New Year, I invite you to lean on others and enjoy “the simplify.”

For more (Mis)Adventures pick up a copy of ZagZig Parenting. None of us are alone in the parenting chaos.

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