Menifee Mom: Room Switches Can Be One of Life's Challenges

By Karen Thomas

I still haven't finished my spring cleaning, but this week I accomplished a much bigger task: I cleaned out all of my kids' bedrooms!

It started out as an idea that maybe we should move the bunk beds into the bedroom with the larger closet. My thought, for multiple reasons, was to put the two oldest together. I mentioned this to my kids and before I knew it, they all had come up with a plan. I shall call it "The Great Room Swap."

Wait, I need to back up. My oldest two, who currently had been enjoying their own rooms, were not thrilled. I heard from one child, "But I'm 13 years old and I need my privacy!" I looked at her for a moment and replied, "No you don't. Soon you'll be in college and will have a roommate. Then you'll get married and have a roommate for the rest of your life. What you need is to get used to it."

Amazingly, for once she didn't have a lawyer-like rebuttal.

About two hours into the job, my husband comes upstairs to survey the scene. I can imagine what he's thinking. The hallway and floor of every room is now covered with drawers, piles of clothes, and toys. (Thankfully, I am able to keep the kids from emptying out the bookshelves, too.)

My husband sees the mess, smiles, and asks how it is going. Mess makes him anxious, so I quickly assure him that we are making great progress and though it looks crazy, at least all the closets and dressers are now empty and everyone's stuff is now in their new rooms.

I smile and act optimistic, though inside I am about ready to scream! The look on his face tells me he is quite happy that he is working today and doesn't have to help sort through it all. It was one of those days when I wished I could go to work for him! But, I can't. It was my idea after all, and now we just have to finish what we've started.

I begin to help the 5-year-old put her things away and the barrage of questions and pleas for help I have heard all morning continue. Think of a typical mom's day, and multiply it by like a million. I hear in the midst of chaos: "Mom! Which lamp do I get to have in my room?" and "Mom, we need to put the flower stickers on the wall of my new room," and to a sister, "Get out of my room!" and "Stop touching my stuff!"

I tell them for the fourth time, "Accessories and decorating are at the bottom of our priorities ... we don't even have clothes in your dressers yet!" I also remind them, "Everyone's stuff is everywhere and your stuff is GOING TO GET TOUCHED so stop freaking out about it!" And finally, "If I hear you tell someone to get out of YOUR room one more time, then I'll just make it so you don't even have a bedroom. You can just sleep in the hallway!"

Eventually, it all does get cleaned up and put away, I regain my sanity, and at the end of it, we all still love each other. The best part is that we have gotten rid of a lot of unnecessary stuff and managed to increase the storage and floor space for all children involved.

It was an exhausting day and my back still hurts, but it was worth it. There is a sense of freshness and newness that comes with changing rooms. I am reminded that it feels good to clean out the clutter in our life, whatever kind it may be. While the task may be difficult, the feeling of peace and simplicity is well worth it.

Karen Thomas is a stay at home mom of four daughters, has been on the PTA board at her kids' school for four years, and is a volunteer at her church, in addition to her activities as a volunteer soccer referee, a piano teacher, and a runner. Her column will appear here every Thursday. Comments are welcome.


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