they don’t call me domestic engineer for nothin’

I am discovering that a lot of my day-to-day stresses can be relieved by just implementing new systems. Our latest challenge has been that our son is discovering new and exciting ways every day to destroy explore the world around him. I have caught him (…and this is just in one week, mind you) cliimbing up on a chair to get into the upper cabinets, dumping out and ENTIRE box of cereal on the table just two minutes before we had to be out the door for church, plugging and unplugging various electrical appliances around the house, and, my personal favorite, opening the dvd/cd door and pushing the lens back and forth (…amazingly enough it didn’t break it!). You know what they say about boys being different? Big “heck yeah!” to that. If we all survive toddlerhood with this one, I, for one, am throwing a big ‘ol party. He is the first child that we actually had to childproof the house for. The girls were quick learners and slow on the action, so I could stop them before they did any damage to themselves or anything else. Corwin, on the other hand, is much quicker on the “action” part. Even when we’re in the same room he will manage to take the two seconds my attention is elsewhere to find something to get in trouble with. I used to say that childproofing was for parents who just didn’t pay attention, but this kid has made me change my mind.

So, Sam and I have decided some action is in order. That’s where the engineering comes in. Bedtime around here has been an increasing pain, due to the fact that the girls often go from one activity to the other without cleaning up their previous activity’s stuff. That, I have decided, is going to stop. Before Corwin was born, we had this great system worked out where I had all their toys (except the dolls and stuffed animals, those were in the big toy box) in rubbermaid bins categorized by type of play. Playdough in one tub, doll clothes in another, blocks in another, art supplies in another –that sort of thing. It worked great –because we had a big closet with a shelf in the living room and it was accessible to me, but not the girls, so I could enforce the now-famous “one bin at a time” rule. It was wonderful. Cleanup was easy, since there was no sorting involved, and parts rarely got lost.

Enter a move –no closet in the living room. Okay, so the bins go into the girls’ room. Then my resolve got weak and I got tired of dragging bins out for the girls (not surprising, since I was dealing with Corwin being a baby at the time), and put them where they could get at them. The “one bin” rule was toast. Now we had to deal with clean up AND sorting again, and by that point, the girls decided they had better things to do than pick up (…of course, I informed them otherwise). Finally I decided after facing a similar situation in our apartment here (except that the problem here is complete lack of closet space), something had to change. So, I bought a wire shelf. Now the girls can get at the boxes, the “high maintenance” bins like the legos and the play food (lots of parts) are where they need help getting them, and cleanup was way easier tonight. Oh, and I finally went out and bought a few childproofing things so I could let Corwin roam a bit without fearing him putting metal objects into outlets, emptying the entire bakeware cabinet, or flushing his teddy down the toilet. So far, so good. Now we just need to teach him that it is not acceptable to pull a chair up to the counter and help himself to whatever’s up there. …For that, we have a gate and a renewed resolve to be consistent.

This morning, I decided to ask Sam for an at-home reprieve, so he took the kids to the big library in Sheboygan (they have a play area and a lego table …oh, and some good books, too) while I stayed home and sorted toys to be put into storage or given away and cleaned off the top of the fridge, which was getting to be a trainwreck of cleaning supplies, dust bunnies, and lunch boxes. I also managed to clean out the kitchen trash can which, since a leaky bag a week ago, has greeted us with the noxious aroma of rotten fish every time it was opened. I hate having a stinky house. Drives me nuts. I decided I had walked up to our apartment and the mixed smell of coffee (good) and garbage (bleagh) one too many times. So, I’ve had a productive week, and hopefully it will pay off in being able to balance spending some time with the kids and getting an occasional moment or two to keep up with the dishes without having to tear my hair out because I can’t complete anything without interruptions, or having to extricate Corwin from the life-threatening situations he so loves to put himself in. Of course, I’m sure he’ll think of new things, but until his learning curve catches up, I figure I’ve got at least a couple days.