Methods of Coping

Remember the other day when we talked about cleaning the house and how much it sucks?  I have to admit that life was putting me in a phenomenally crabby mood, and then the sun had to turn on full blast and trap me in the house for days with an angry toddler and thus life gave me an excellent chance to, shall we say, “review” some of the methods I use to cope around these here crazy parts.  So I thought I’d share in case anyone else is also staring defeatedly at a pile of laundry the size of Texas.

1. No One Else is Going To Do It

Here is what happens to me.  I wait and wait for “someone else” to take out the recycling, or to put away the stacks of laundry, or to pick up those little scraps of trash that ALWAYS accumulate on the floor next to the trash can.  And guess what? No one else does that stuff.  Ever.  But when I come back to it and the trash isn’t emptied? I get really really mad.

It’s just easier and mentally healthier for me to say to myself “No one else is going to do it” and take the trash out myself.  And then it’s done and there’s no getting mad about it!

2. Hide Stuff

You’re going to laugh, but seriously, when I get fed up with picking up my husbands flip flops from the middle of the living room floor where he leaves them every single blasted day?  I hide them.  Or I tell Eli to hide them, which is even better, because then I don’t even know where they are.  This not only gives me a GREAT feeling of satisfaction, but it reminds certain people not to leave their mother grabbing flip flops on the living room floor every damn day of their lives.

3. Just Do it.

It turns out that when it comes to cleaning, I am not annoyed by mopping or vacuuming or washing windows.  Call me crazy, but I would rather do that stuff myself anyway because I like my version of clean better than “boy clean”.  What does annoy me to NO END is clutter.  Things leave Mr. E’s hands and are never thought of again. I spend ENDLESS hours picking up beer bottles and empty chip bowls and pairs of sunglasses and contact cases and pennies and bad sci fi novels and add that to the fact that Mr. E never ever ever ever puts away his own laundry and I was losing my mind.  Then I started just putting his laundry away myself, and aside from the fact that it makes me feel a little like I’m his mom and he’s 12, it seems to work out well. I am SO MUCH LESS annoyed at having to put away his laundry than I was by the endless towering and falling stacks of clothes lying around my bedroom.  As for the crap he strews around, we’re still working on a solution for that one.  I am thinking of buying an electric cattle prod.

4. Face Reality and Fix the Problem

When we first got Belle, the dog I love to hate, she would NOT STOP digging around the trash.  We yelled at her, we whacked her, we threw soda cans filled with pennies at her head, we sprayed her with water and vinegar, and none of it worked.

Then we bought a new trash can with a lid! And now she stays out of the trash.

5. Talk about it.

I told Mr. E the other day that I was so stressed out about money I felt like there was a constant weight on me…trying to make a lump cash sum last for a month for groceries SUCKS.  At least for me.  And so Mr. E, ie the best husband in the world, said that he would do it.  And so I hand over the grocery cash and a list and he goes to the store and I don’t have to worry about stretching our grocery dollar and whether or not we can afford the good butter.  And it works out nicely because he is MUCH better at saving money in the grocery store than I am, even if we do have seven kinds of chips in the kitchen right now.

6. Get lazy.

Honestly? I am not good about keeping the floors mopped, the windows washed, or the living room dusted. Sometimes my bathroom is kind of dirty. I clean the tub MAYBE twice a year.  And I just don’t care.  Those aren’t the things that really matter to me.  If my bed is made, my dining room table is cleared off,the laundry is put away, and my grass is mowed, I’m happy, so those are the things I focus on.  If the floors get a little dirty in the meantime, such is life.

7. Make a one thing to do list.

When I really get frazzled, I get out a piece of blank paper, and write just ONE THING I want to get done on it.  Nothing else goes on the list until that ONE THING is done, and it’s only when that first item is crossed off that the next thing goes on the  list.  This really helps me focus, and that one and only thing? It always gets done.  Sometimes when I have a list of nineteen things? NONE of it gets done.

8. Don’t assign meaning that isn’t there.

This is my hardest thing, it really is.  But the fact of the matter is that when Mr. E leaves beer cans on the counter or socks on the bedroom floor, he isn’t saying “You suck.”  He isn’t saying “I don’t care that you’re going to have clean this up” or “I think you’re my maid.”  We’ve had this conversation a million times, and the fact is that what I feel when he leaves those things on the floor doesn’t mean that he meant it that way.  He leaves things lying around because they leave his hands and he never thinks of them again, and he’s scatterbrained and messy and that’s just how he is.  He’s absolutely not trying to be a dick, and hard as it may be to realize this, it really doesn’t get either of us anywhere for me to take these things personally.  Even though I won’t lie, sometimes I still do.

9. Play a game.

Every morning I wake up and because I’m a huge nerd, I try to see if I can get the dishwasher emptied before the water finishes boiling for coffee. I have no idea why, but this helps make a job I hate (emptying the dishwasher) slightly less vile.  My mom and my brother used to have a piece of paper with times on it, stuck to the kitchen cabinet, and they’d try to beat their fastest cleaning up time from the night before, so maybe this is where I get my love of a good cleaning game.

10.  When all else fails, reward yourself with chocolate chips and Diet Coke.

No explanation necessary. Am I right?

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20 Responses

  1. I totally love #2. GREAT!

  2. I think we might be married to the same man. Number 2 is going into permanent rotation on my cleaning schedule. My solution to the clutter and detritus the mister leaves all over the house is one of those giant rubbemaid totes with a lid. Whenever i come across something that belongs to him that is not (1) garbage or (2) laundry, it goes in the bin. Then the bin gets stuck next to his side of the bed and, joy of joy, HE trips over HIS OWN shit every morning until he puts it away. Then, I get an empty rubbermaid tote back and the cycle begins anew.

  3. Number 2 is BRILLIANT.

    I am going to start hiding A.’s underwear that doesn’t make it to the hamper. He will either have to buy new underwear, quite wearing it all together, or make it that extra THREE INCHES to the hamper.

    BRILLIANT.

  4. I am the man in our relationship. I leave my socks in the middle of the living room floor. I always forgot to start the dishwasher. I don’t remember the last time I cleaned the bathtub. This list makes me ashamed!! I will do better! I promise!

  5. This list is gold! What I finally did for all my husband’s crap that gets strewn everywhere is put a nice container/basket/drawer/wood box in the rooms that accumlate the most stuff. Wouldn’t any rational person think that he would be able to just dump it in there? Yes, one would think that. Sadly it is still me, but at least now there is a place that is specifically FOR said crap.

    I REALLY like the rubbermaid tote idea – I’m stealing that one!

  6. #8. that is my neverending issue. Bah.

  7. #2: I wipe out the toothpaste and bodily yuckies out of the sink with his socks that he INSISTS on leaving on the bathroom floor, before I wipe it down for the day with some bleach. I hate touching it, and for whatever reason, if I just use a bleach wipe, my fingers always wind up running into it. SO I decided one day to just use a sock before I slathered it down with cleaning stuffs. For some strange reason, it gives me a sense of satisfaction to know that there was day-old toothpaste gunk on his socks once upon a time. Passive aggressive to the nines.

  8. I have the hardest time with #8. My fiance is scatterbrained, too, and it drives.me.crazy. and I have a tendency to take it personally.

    Oh, and #2 gave me some good ideas. :)

  9. I had to give Wills a nickname to remind myself that he is that scatterbrained. It helps me on a daily basis. I call him The Absent Minded Professor. Unless he is thinking about something geek related (code, coding, computer parts, some other gadget he’s fixated on, etc) I have a hell of a time getting him to remember or PAY ATTENTION, GAH!

    The socks! The granola bar wrappers! The cups! STABBY HATE!

  10. I have to say this list was like reading about my life. Except I live with not only the husband but four sons who all behave in the same way. The socks left in every room may just kill me. And I can’t hide their stuff because even when they leave it somewhere I’m the one who usually has to find it.

  11. This post is fantastic. We struggle with the same things, except I’m the Mr. E character. I need to talk to hubby about #8, because it is completely DEAD ON ACCURATE. Thank you!

  12. WOW – this is one of my top ten most favorite posts of all time! I’m totally going to use number 2, and number 9? I do it every morning! I love that I’m not the only crazy person. I think you are right though, I take it totally personally when my husband leaves something laying around that he knows doesn’t belong there – it’s like he knows that I’ll eventually give in and pick it up. But then again, I have to realize that I can’t necessarily expect him to adhere to my OCD tendencies either. There needs to be a happy medium.

  13. I love these tips. I will try hard to remember #1 especially when I clean the gunk off the toothpaste tube or empty our trash can for the umpteenth time. Men…ARGH.

  14. This is a such a great post. Thank you. I am having a hard time right now with many of the things you mentioned and this is just, awesome. My favorite has to be “don’t assign meaning.” I didnt realize this but I totally do this about like, a lot of things my partner does. And I have to stop. So thank you. I always enjoy your blog but this is a great one, especially. Also wanted to tell you that your hair looks great! (from the other day).

  15. I heart this kind of list. These are the sorts of things I do, too. I also trick myself into thinking I will JUST wash the cups—because I know that once I get started, I’ll do all the dishes.

  16. I like this so much I bookmarked it, and am going to return to it when I’m full of rage that my husband can’t get his clothes 2 feet over into the laundry basket and I’m the one who has to pick them up.

  17. Priceless list! The assigning meaning part hit me square between the eyes. I really like Buster’s idea about the tote–gets it out of sight while sending a not-so-subtle message. So when are you going to compile all this into a book?

  18. these are good. I needed this. thanks.

  19. I swear, Number 3 describes my Dad to a T, right down to the bad sci fi novels. Who knew there were so many out there…and my dad is 65 years old…imagine how many of those novels he as collected since adolescence. My father also is a computer geek and you would NOT BELIEVE the number of computer software (99% obsolete) tomes there are stacked everywhere and the number of random keyboards would make you faint. Even the laundry description is totally him.

    Because my husband lived with me in my parents’ Clutterdome for a year, he is TERRIFIED I will turn out like my dad. I am barely allowed to set my purse down without him commenting on me “leaving stuff everywhere”.

    I struggle often with Number 8. THAT is a toughie.

    I loved this post. So well written and so true!!!

  20. You are a genius! And have you seen Rachel Getting Married, there is a dishwasher scene that you just reminded me of.

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