Hello, my name is Leann…and I have some bad habits.
Don’t we all, though?
(Seriously, I need you to say that I’m not alone here.)
And just like that, I reveal what is probably my worst and most self-destructive habit: I spend a good part of each day second-guessing myself. What am I doing right now that I actually should be doing? Well, it’s quite obvious that I am writing this…but is that the most important thing? I guess everyone needs an outlet, but it’s hard to tell myself that this is the thing that I should be doing right now. After all, there are dozens of other things that I could and probably should be doing. The kitchen tablecloth should be changed. There are crumbs on it. I seriously need to give my floors a good mopping. And vacuum my couch. There is always laundry that could be washed. And I do realize that closing the blinds is only a temporary solution to dirty windows. (At least, that’s what I keep telling myself!)
In case you haven’t noticed, this is not one of those blogs you can refer to for cleaning and organizing tips!
The sad reality is that those things will always need to be done. Sure, I have joked about dragging my family to live on a nudist colony for the sole reason that I would be more likely to feel like the laundry is actually DONE at some point. Even when it’s all washed, dried, folded, and put away, the stuff we’re wearing…IT’S DIRTY! (Sure…it would be awkward, but I’m hoping the sense of accomplishment I might get from having the laundry completed a more attainable goal would outweigh the things I and my family would not be able to UNsee.)
On a day like today, it’s fairly easy to convince myself that all those chores are not the most important thing. I can argue a good case in favor of this theory, really. After all, do I really want my headstone to say, “Leann…Beloved Wife, Mother, Daughter, Sister, and she kept a very tidy pantry?” In all honesty, I don’t think I could really be the sort of person who stays on top of everything amiss in my home. I don’t seem to be able to find any middle ground between acting like I don’t really care and screaming, “YOU PEOPLE ARE RUINING MY LIFE AND ARE NOT ALLOWED TO TOUCH ANYTHING OR SIT ANYWHERE EVER AGAIN.” I can’t seem to find the motivation to follow behind my family members and pick up the trails of crap they leave behind as they meander from one room to another without building up a fair amount of resentment toward them.
And how exactly does a pair of shoes end up with each one in a different room? Also, do not get me started on the Rainbow Loom rubber bands that can be found along the baseboards, under the furniture, and in every pile of crap I sweep up from any room in the house!
I don’t think we are necessarily messier than other people; we just don’t have good habits in place to stay on top of things. I don’t think to do a nightly sweep of the living room and other common areas to put things away and straighten up everything. (How are people find that kind of energy and ambition at the end of their day?) But, in all fairness, I also don’t think to water plants or feed fish on a regular basis either. My children and pets stay alive because THEY TELL ME WHEN THEY NEED SOMETHING. AND THEY DO NOT LET ME FORGET.
I’m also pretty sure there is a mug shot of me somewhere behind the register of every garden area in every chain store in this county with the caption, ‘DO NOT sell live plants to this woman. She’s a threat to houseplants and basic horticulture as we know it. Selling a live plant (of any kind, no matter how drought or flood tolerant you might think it to be) to her is basically giving that plant a death sentence.’
Part of my problem is my whole thought process. Most people might notice that a plant needs water and….oh, I don’t know….WATER IT. For me, it’s not that simple. First of all, I will need to get some form of container full of water in my hands. Usually, I just dump a half-full water bottle that is probably left on the coffee table or wherever. That’s is not always a guaranteed thing to find, though I usually find it more often than not! Even then, the number of things that grabs my attention before I can get the water to the plant and actually water it can be staggering. I might see something else that needs to be put away. I might remember a phone call I was supposed to make or something crucial that might need to be added to that week’s shopping list. If any one thing gets in my way between me and the act of watering that plant, that poor plant doesn’t stand a chance of being watered on that particular day! The next day doesn’t usually look good either. (Sadly, the problem with grabbing half-empty water bottles to water my plants is that I sometimes end up overwatering the plants. I possess absolutely no intuition whatsoever when it comes to the needs of all things green. Also, I have little to no natural sunlight in my house…and I like it that way!)
A couple of years ago, I read a book that made an impact on how I see things. I should probably read it again. It’s called ‘The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business.’ It really spoke to me. In the book, they talk about how the creators of Febreeze first struggled to even give the product away and then went on to make it a household name. They did this by making people believe that it should be a crucial part of their daily routine. It also talks about Target and how they give us all these deals in order to track our purchases and send us coupons relevant to where we appear to be in our lives, thus getting us back in their store more often. For example, an adult female who purchases a pregnancy test and yoga pants is most likely pregnant and they will mail her coupons for baby stuff. An adult male who purchases dinnerware and linens is probably going through a divorce or moving to a new place and they will send him coupons for frozen dinners and basic toiletries. If they can predict the habits of the customer, they can make themselves more relevant and necessary in the everyday lives of those customers . Shopping at Target will become a regular habit for people and they will go there more often. It’s genius, really! I imagine the stores that require a membership have that same ability. Just recently, I went to Sam’s Club and purchased nothing but a jar of coconut oil and a package of men’s underwear.
What does that say about my life, Mr. Walton?
I need to get into the habit of….getting into better habits. I just feel like all the jobs I need to do as a mother are distracting me from the jobs I need to do as a mother! I usually spend most days in survival mode and just conquer what seems to be most important that day. If 8YO has a softball game or 11YO has a soccer game, laundry is likely to seem more important. If we run out of clean forks, running the dishwasher gets bumped to the top of my list of things to do. (But seriously, how do these people go through so many forks?) Some days, my priorities don’t concern anything in the house and are all about running errands and shuttling the kids from one place to another. If someone is coming over, well…then it becomes my priority to go into ‘crisis mode’ and run around screaming at those fork-overusing, shoe-losing, Rainbow Loom Rubber band-dropping people I seem to have spawned. They are actually able to clean quite well when you put a little pressure on them. (The fact that I am usually shooting flames out of my eyes and foaming at the mouth by that point doesn’t hurt either.)
Thanks to that book, I’ve realized that we all have the power to overcome addiction, poverty, depression, and improve our overall lives by being honest with where we are in life and replacing one bad habit at a time with a good one.
But will I ever have the power to keep houseplants alive?