Preparedness and a mini-breakdown

First of all, the preparedness item this week is Spaghetti Sauce. It’s a pasta topping! It’s a pizza Sauce! It’s multi-talented! If you are aiming on spaghetti/pizza/etc. once a week, that’s going to be 12 jars. Think you can handle that? If that’s too much for your pantry (or your budget) to handle, then get what you can.

If you happen to be the kid of person who makes their own tomato sauce from scratch, then you are probably sneering at my jarred sauce suggestion. Fine. Just buy as many canned ingredients as you need to make your own. This is not the time to get on your high horse about fresh tomatoes and basil, OK? This is about feeding your family from food in your pantry. So get yourself to the grocery store and stock up. If you want to throw in a few jars of Alfredo sauce or something similar, be my guest. I’m just trying to give you some ideas, here.

Secondly, to completely change the subject, having six little kids was very hard when they were all 10 and under. Even 12 and under was difficult. All those sippy cups! And teeth I had to brush! And shoes I had to put on! And car seats I had to buckle!

But this! Older kids. Egads. This is making me long for the ease of bedwetting. I remember my friends with older kids telling me it was still hard being a mom even though their kids were old enough to wipe their own bums. I simply did not believe them. I thought older kids would just be like having a cross between fun roommates and servants.

This is my newsflash: They are still children. Even when they are taller than you and wear bigger shoes. They still don’t have a firm grip on responsibility. They don’t make the best choices many times. They still don’t even seem to grasp the importance of two very basic concepts: hanging up their clothes and throwing things away.

Over this weekend I had the choice opportunity to try to find two pairs of tights for the girls that were lost somewhere in the house. After searching high and low (and eventually finding them) I realized that my girl’s have been cleaning their room by stuffing things in every drawer and cupboard they can find. And the last two weeks worth of clean laundry? In a giant heap behind their closet door. Even India, my super responisble child, had her old tatty t-shirts shoved into drawers with brand new church dresses.

The boy’s had the great room switcheroo. Scary is the word that comes to mind.

I realized that they are unable to throw anything away. Every chintzy toy ever “won” at Chuck E. Cheese? It’s in their room somewhere. Their Legos have all had babies and the population has grown to epic numbers. And most of them are living on the floor in their bedroom. And that rule about no eating outside of the kitchen? All I have to do is look at all the Gogurt packages, chip bags and string cheese wrappers to know that they have been ignoring me for quite some time.

Please don’t get me started on the assignments, projects and permission slips that were forgotten until 10:00 last night.


I have been gritting my teeth all weekend, chanting “Monday” under my breath. Today is the day that my reign of terror begins. Enough of consequences and trying to teach responsibility. It is not working. This is the beginning of Jennie’s Gulag. There will be no laughter or cheer eminating from my house anymore. If the children are smiling, I’m not doing my job.

OK, so maybe it won’t be that bad. But my gosh! I don’t know what else to do.

Let me turn into the woman I’ve always hated: the one who tells parents of young children, “just you wait”. Because I promise you will look back on those days of no sleep and watching PBS Kids nonstop and wish you could go back. You don’t believe me. But it will happen.

15 thoughts on “Preparedness and a mini-breakdown

  1. I know exactly what you are going through. My kids are the same exact way. I attempted to clean the girls room and after two hours only had a spot cleaned enough so I could close the door. They don't even try to hide it anymore. They probably figure it is much easier to be outright slobs. I have even tried just letting it go and hoping that maybe they would get tired of it. Nope! Let me know if the gulag works. I am running out of ideas.

  2. Oh, NO! You may have to turn into (shudder) YOUR PARENTS! No jobs done, no dinner! A personal Mom check on each and every job just before supper! Dad emptying your drawers onto the floor in the middle of the night! Nag, Nag, Nag!

    But look what a wonderful girl you turned out to be through the gulag system!

  3. *Hanging up their clothes and throwing things away*

    I could have written the exact same post yesterday. I spent all of Saturday cleaning Emma, Alice and Spencer's rooms. It was beyond awful. If they could just learn to hang up their clothes and throw the garbage (knick knacks, wrappers, lame-o treasures) their rooms would practically sparkle.

    I feel your pain!

  4. I hear ya. My oldest of four turned 13 a few months ago, and I feel like I am going through an identity crisis as a mama. Now I am the taskmaster and the woman crackin' the whip….that feels like all I do around here now. Thankfully, my two youngest still sit on my lap for stories every night or I would throw up my hands and say "I didn't want to be a housewife when I grew up. I wanted to be a mom." I am the crappiest organizer and cleaner. But, I am the world's best nurser, soother, and come hang out on my lap and tell me all your woes kind of mom but NOT keep the ship running in tiptop shape kind of a mom. Best wishes to you! May we all hold on to our sanity and use the word "damn" only on a weekly rather than daily basis as we talk to our kids.

  5. My mom used to stay behind when my dad took all the kids camping. I felt so, so sorry for her. What fun we were having! How sad she was alone!

    Now I understand, and I called her a few years ago to tell her the jig was up: home alone? for almost 24 hours? LUCKY. She confirmed and told me that not only had she enjoyed time to herself, she took that time to go into our rooms and THROW EVERYTHING AWAY. All the toys, junk, wrappers, beloved items, and we never noticed.

    So perhaps if the Mister could make them all disappear for 24 hours?

  6. p.s. You are wrong. I will never long for the days when I spend day after day scrubbing literal crap off the walls.

  7. I only have child but he is 13 and his dad often reverts to being a teenager as well, and even our cat is a male. I have threatened to run away from home and leave them with their messes if they don't pull it together soon. I think they even half believe me…and when it gets really bad I pour myself a cup of tea and plan my get-away.

  8. I've still got the PBS kids on nonstop with my 5 kids and I really don't want to believe you.

    I love your pantry stock up ideas. Got the sauce, PB, mac & cheese. Cereal just takes more room than we have.

  9. Smiling again after my visit… (even carpet wetting?:) I promise you it will get BETTER! Someday their daily phone calls will become just the friends you really want to talk to. You will be amazed at the responsible, talented and totally incredible human beings you have raised. Jenny, you are doing a great job! Remember to keep taking deep breaths.
    I am picking up our s sauce today. Thanks for the inspiration.

  10. AMEN!

    I would go back to the little people in a heartbeat…wait till you have so called "young adults" oy vay!

    Please give details on how the goulag system works…I'm muddling through anarchy/denial at the moment.

    BTW, I didn't even know about the mac n cheese that doesn't need milk and butter, brilliant!

  11. My kids are still little, but I feel like it's already beginning here. My kids, Daphne especially, canNOT touch any toy/project/game/book/activity without leaving it and all its accessories out. It is nearly impossible to keep her room clean. I keep telling myself I need to make her stay in her room (or the office, kitchen, bathroom, playroom, theater or wherever else she has chosen to make her messes today) until it is clean. But she just makes it messier. So at this point, I'm still finding it easier to do it myself. But I'm digging myself into a deeper hole by doing that, aren't I? Next thing I know, she'll be 12 and still never have learned to clean up her own messes. ACK!

    p.s. Spagetti sauce….check!

  12. I read your blog for the first time today and I already feel like you are kindred spirit with your kids who don't know how to hang up clothes or throw away stuff. And every once in a while I have to get all mean, too. Currently, if my two oldest teenagers leave clothes on the floor, I scoop them up and hide them. Since I had to clean up their stuff, they have to clean up for ME to get their stuff back (just some random job I don't want to do like dust the blinds or windowseals or sort the laundry). Anyway, that is my current 'meanness.' And in general, at least the FLOORS in their rooms are a little bit cleaner!

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