Happy Moms Who Hate Clutter


Every December (and yes, I know it’s March…bear with me), I get a strange yearning to remodel my apartment completely.  This is obviously very convenient timing for everyone, but especially for my husband, whose company policy dictates a furlough between Christmas and New Year, meaning that the days leading up to Christmas Eve are a mad dash to get things in line at work.

Also to reupholster furniture, replace all the kitchen cupboard knobs, and build stuff at home.

Have I mentioned that I love him?

This year (meaning last year, I guess), I spontaneously decided that we needed to deal with the Kitchen Situation before inviting 10 people into our home for Christmas dinner.

The Kitchen Situation was essentially a toddler desk piled to the ceiling with art supplies, and shoved up next to it a ridiculously large step-stool that doubled as a storage unit full of old coloring books.  In sum, this Situation occupied a full third of precious floor AND counter space, blocked a cabinet, and hampered the emptying of the dishwasher.  Once in a while Babygirl would post up and eat a snack or something in the space, but mostly it was clutter, and we had outgrown it.

Like all Situations, this one started out harmless enough.  These items had been acquired during our children’s toddler years, and reluctantly dragged into our galley kitchen in order to create a more organic space for LittleMan to DO ART, since his preschool teachers at that time were traumatizing us all over the place about how art is the gateway to handwriting and LittleMan isn’t standing at the gateway, and sorry, but a Lego obsession doesn’t count.  This, for the record, turned out to be pure hoo-ha in my humble opinion.  But: First-Time Mom = Desk in Tiny Kitchen.

On December 21st or so I enlisted my husband, who is the efficiency expert in our home, to source an acceptable solution to the Kitchen Situation.  He ordered a solution to arrive on December 23, giving us AMPLE time to implement prior to 4:30pm on December 25.  At 7pm on December 23, however, my husband informed me that the solution would be delayed, sending me into a panic.

“So we do it after Christmas,” reasoned my husband.  “That’s okay.”
“No!” I said (it’s possible I spend too much time with a four-year-old).  “The whole point is for it to be ready for Christmas!”
“That’s not really the whole point,” he reasoned.  “And this is our family we’re talking about.  They’ve been here a million times.”

True and wise though those words may have been, I enlisted the lovely man who receives the mail in our high rise to personally ensure that the package was placed inside our apartment the moment it arrived, and lo, we returned home from Christmas Eve dinner, our arms heavy with two sleepy-but-wired humans and various packages and paella leftovers, to find a furniture-sized box in the entryway.  After depositing the kids in bed and hoping for the best, my husband stared at the box and rubbed his hands together.  “So.  I’m building this thing.”

“Thank you,” I replied.  We poured glasses of port and got to it.


Okay, this kitchen art-cart thing is not necessarily something to write home about (or blog posts about), I suppose…except that, in my opinion, over the past three months or so, it has totally changed our lives.  EVERYTHING has a place.  The Play-Doh and the craft paint and the sticker books and the crayons; the kinetic sand and the beads and pipe cleaner and fishing line.  All that stuff I used to cram into drawers or stack on bookshelves, only to have it get lost, or go unused…It is all so organized and you know what happens now?  Inspiration, that’s what.  What used to be a totally unappealing pile of crap is easy to access and colorfully stored.  Babygirl gets up in the morning and has an urge to create and she simply does, pulling the bins out into the livingroom and posting up at the table or on the floor.  LittleMan, who has become obsessed with geography, pulls out his atlas and paper and pencils. We wake to family portraits and long necklaces crafted from brightly colored Melissa & Doug beads, freehand maps of Texas and rambling lists of state capitals.  (Also: we wake to squabbling over the better green crayon.  Because, brothers and sisters.)



And what of Mommy herself, who once thought (I will confess): Ugh – but where did I stash the Play-Doh and do I really want to deal with this and can’t we just watch TV?  Well, now I can say, Turn off those Ninja Turtles!  Here’s the big drawer of Play-Doh, now make me a salty green cupcake with some yellow bacon!

That’s right: I got organized and actually became a better mom.  (Maybe.  Sometimes, at least.)

Somewhere there’s an adage (or maybe it’s a self-help book; I’m unclear) that states: Good Moms Have Sticky Floors, Messy Kitchens, Dirty Ovens, Piles of Laundry, And Happy Kids.  I’m sure that’s true for a lot of good moms.  I don’t judge — I too hate laundry with a burning flame — but still…um, no thanks; that’s not my needlepoint.

In my little world, good moms are in a centered headspace because they aren’t staring at piles of clutter that obscure the beauty underneath.  For this mom, peacefully loading the dishwasher she can now reach in a galley kitchen in a high-rise apartment, happy kids pull out the red drawer with the colored pencils and the green drawer with the coloring books and holler for Family Coloring Time…and we do it.  Because it’s right there, at our fingertips.

I owe my husband a thank you for my Christmas gift.


Art Cart (wheels removed) // Harry Potter Coloring Book

Leave a Comment