“Have you seen my jacket?” “Hey, who took my iPad?” “Where are my shoes?” If this sounds familiar, then you, too, have likely tried an organizational system (or 23) in your home. And perhaps, like us, you have chosen sanity over perfection, and decided to breathe instead of scream.
“Dad, when are you going to shops next?” one of the kids asks.
“Ugh, I don’t know.” It’s just after 7 am, and we’re running late for school, (I don’t know why all my stories start with, “We were running late for…”), so I’m distracted and huffy helping another kid get their act together. “What do you want from the shops?”
“I need new earphones.”
“What happened to the ones we bought last week?” I ask.
“I can’t find them.”
I take a deep breath, and try to avoid going off. “Well, you’re using your allowance to buy them.”
“I don’t have any allowance.”
I take another deep breath. “Why not?”
“I spent it on the lost earphones.”
At this point I walk away. I don’t have a response that won’t re-emerge in a therapy session years from now.
My children are always losing stuff. I know kids are kids, and kids lose stuff. Heck, adults lose stuff. Laurie’s favourite phrase is, “Where’s my mobile?” But my hyper kids are relentless in their forgetfulness. They lose everything, all the time. They lose something, then occasionally they find it, then they lose it again.
Laurie and I have tried organizational systems. Some work and some don’t. When the kids’ school issued them iPads to take home, Apple cords tangled up our entire lives. Everyone was taking someone else’s cord, or losing their own. So I took masking tape and labelled each cord with the owner’s name and permanent location. For example, my cord label said “Dad’s phone/Dad’s nightstand.” So the first time I saw my cord in the kitchen, I knew which cord it was and where it belonged; it was also easier to track down the thief.
Not all of our attempts at organization are successes. We have a backpack bench in the kitchen, but the backpacks rarely land there. We have a shoe rack by the front door, a coat closet, and buckets with name tags in the bathrooms for toothbrushes, but…well, you get the idea.
I think the root cause of most of our chaos is that we have four kids, and Laurie and I can’t live our lives policing household rules. This especially applies to our kids with ADHD, who are so hyper and move through life so fast that they blow right past rules and routines in under 5 seconds. Plus, their attention is so quickly diverted. At some point, Laurie and I have to let go, if for no other reason than to save our sanity.
So I know that later tonight or tomorrow, those earphones will magically reappear. They may be in a random location like behind the toilet or they may turn up exactly where they belong in a backpack. Either way, I’ll tell the kids ‘good job’ when they find something. And I’ll try to keep cool in a couple days when they disappear again (the earphones, not the kids!).
BY BILLY CUCHENS