Peace in Cleaning Up

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There’s no secret that in my family, clean is king. I grew up in a tidy house with a very organized, thoroughly clean agenda. My parents spent lots of time with spray bottles and rubber gloves in hand. We even dubbed a little nickname for one another: The Rub-A-Dub-Dub Team.

Was I teased? I don’t know. Probably the right amount. But I can’t remember, though I do believe my house was once called “The Museum.”

While I can’t quite manage to bring our level of cleanliness to the same standard, I will say that cleaning now has a therapeutic, familiar, calming effect on me. It is something I can turn to. When the toilet is clean, I feel better. When I’m frustrated, I can scrub something and marvel at its transformation.

This morning, I spent time dispensing some of my clean peace wisdom and best practices onto the kiddos. Everyone was assigned tasks to clean and tidy the house. I gave everyone colorful sticky notes, each numbered with a few tasks. Each kid receives different tasks based on his/her age so that everyone takes around the same amount of time to get through his/her chores.

This morning, as a result of our efforts, I felt an enormous surge of peace. There is something magical about rote tasks that serve a purpose. LM1 had bed making, dishes, and laundry to do, while LM2 and LM3 were assigned the “more fun” task of bathroom toilets. They think this is the coolest thing to do because they get to wear the fun orange rubber gloves I bought for the occasion.

There’s something about unwrapping something from a package, fresh and clean, that makes little kids excited.

Finding peace, for me, is all about relaxing into something and giving it my full attention. When I see my kids giving their full attention to something, that brings even more peace. It was fun to see and wonderful to see the end result.

What brought you peace this week? Share the peace!

Peace in Therapy

Every now and again I feel like I need what I now call “a tune up.” It feels just like getting my oil changed in the car. Things aren’t running quite as they should, and I know I can feel better. There is a weight lingering on my shoulders I can’t quite shake.

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I always pull out my mental checklist and start asking myself what I need. Could it be:

  • yoga?
  • quiet reading time?
  • a healthier diet plan?
  • a break brought on by the babysitter?
  • a run?
  • a necessary disruption in what’s become a monotonous schedule?
  • a brunch out with the ladies?

I almost always attribute any shift in my thinking to “the winter blues.” It’s most often the case that NOTHING is wrong. NOTHING has changed and NOTHING needs fixing.

But sometimes, I need a tune up, nonetheless. I need a reminder of who I am and what I have to be grateful for. And sometimes, getting back to my normal self comes from a little help from a licensed professional.

I have a handful of helpful people I can turn to when I need to talk. And I find so much peace and comfort in it. I learn new resources. I learn new ways to examine problems both trivial and large. I gain some insight, and I’m so grateful for it.

I think there is a lot of misconception in our country about mental health and therapy and what all of this exists for. Does it really work? Does it make a difference? Is it still taboo?

I don’t have answers for any of those questions, but I do know this:

Sometimes Mommy needs a tune up, and I know where to schedule my time and with whom to speak. For me, it works. It brings peace.

What brought you peace this week? Share the peace.

Peace With Pop-Its

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Last year’s back-to-school season taught us that Pop-Its are all the rage in elementary school. Who knew? This past Christmas, Santa brought everyone his own Pop-It toy. The kids mostly use them on the bus to help pass time during the ride to school, since we are one of the first bus stops in the morning.

But last week, I started something fun and new that I thought I might pass along.

When the kids are not being especially kind to one another, I’ve taken to using the Pop-It as a counter for compliments. I put the toy in the middle of us and we go around in a circle saying kind things about each other. Every kind phrase earns a pop. We try to fill up the whole circle. Sometimes we do. Sometimes we don’t.

This sounds lame, even as I type it. But you know what? It transitions our kiddos from their momentary tantrumy less-than-kind mental state. (Those moments find us at some point each day!) The kids focus on kind words for a few minutes. And this simple practice changes the tone of the room. It even makes me feel better.

I’ve heard parents complain about Pop-Its before, but this sort of use has a place in our home. It brings kind words and peace.

What brought you peace this week? Share the peace!

Peace in Fort Building

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Snow is always peaceful. Isn’t it? Well, today was a little different. We got snow, followed by rain, followed by more snow. Our driveway quickly became an icy mess. I can’t say it feels peaceful so much as sloshy, icey and yucky. While I wanted to get us up and off to the aquarium today, it seems life had another idea in store.

In this weather, I didn’t want to drive my family of five anywhere. Even if the car has solid snow tires ready for these days, I don’t want to battle with icy sidewalks or parking lots. What I hoped would have been a great sledding day became….kind of mush.

Days like this feel yucky. Yucky moments are often opportunities in disguise.

But WHAT opportunities lay ahead?

A day like today became a time to get creative.

In our house, getting creative usually means building something. Or many somethings. Today we made forts and houses and secret hideouts.

ALL. DAY. LONG.

The kids played in their underpants because, why? I HAVE NO IDEA. They told me they were hot. They built feverishly, collecting all the pillows and blankets in our home and making anything they can climb inside. And what’s so peaceful about it is simply the joy the kids find in their production process.

So many stories developed in and around their forts. They incorporated some kind of Minecraft theme today and were building “crafting tables” and “hidden jewels” and “amulets.” It was hilarious to listen in every know and again to see what they were doing. It was awesome and made me thankful for a sloshy rainy snow day at home.

What brought you peace today? Share the peace!