The house is finally quiet. Well, not totally quiet; I can still hear some chit chat upstairs but that doesn’t bother me- so long as it stays upstairs,
And then I see it; with the open floor plan, I can see straight from the back of the house to the front. And from my hard-earned place on the couch I can see 7 pairs of shoes strewn about in every which way. One pair parked behind the garbage can. One pair near the toy bin. 2 pairs at two different spots literally look like they are on the run- someone just shed them as they walked. One pair half way stuck under the couch-I already know there’ll be a frantic search party the next morning for those. One single lonely shoe by the sink. Another at the refrigerator. One by the steps.
What is up with these kids??
Grrr….why isn’t this working?
See, the issue is, I have a perfect plan.
It started with a shoe basket at the door; but once the shoes got too many for the jumbo basket, I had to find a new solution. And it had to be a separate space for each pair – because at that point, the way the kids found a pair of shoes was they would dump out the whole basket, take the pair they were looking for, and despite my reminders to put the rest back in the basket- they would go on their way.
No, that one wasn’t working.
And so I had a brilliant idea and found the perfect preschool cubbies for the garage; oh, it would be so organized! A hook for a sweater, a hook for a coat. A cubby above for lunchboxes and a cubby below for shoes. What could possibly not work about it?
And it worked. For a little while. Very little. But I convinced myself it was still working, until the 5 cubby spaces didn’t suffice for the size of my family – and I couldn’t ignore it anymore.
One day when I slowed down enough to really look and see what was going on…I discovered that there was a mound of shoes in front of the cubbies…and a bunch of neglected Elmo slippers stuffed into the shoe compartments, some old projects and a coat or two…
I had to admit that the working days were over and I needed something new.
Something that was foolproof.
For starters, there had to be enough space. I couldn’t enforce something that didn’t have enough space to begin with.
I googled and searched; Amazon, Home Depot, Ebay – I had shoe organizer advertisements popping up on every screen I opened – that definitely helped me feel the urgency of the matter!
And I found it. Shoe cubbies. Stackable. If I bought four of them, I could have 8 columns down and four across – each person would get a column of four cubbies.
For shabbos shoes, weekday shoes, boots and crocs.
It was perfect. This was going to work. This was the solution. This was brilliant.
Nothing could possibly go wrong.
And I was sure the kids would be as excited as me!
I sold the old neglected cubbies on Craigslist and employed my oldest son to put together the perfect-solution shoe organizer.
And I carefully labeled each column with each child’s name so it was easy to use and then stowed everyone’s shoes in their allotted spot.
It looked just as perfect as I thought it would.
I quietly congratulated myself on finally winning this one, sure that misplaced shoes were a thing of the past.
And now four months later I had to face reality.
Sitting in my place at the couch I had two choices;
To be really annoyed and call every single kid downstairs to put their shoes away and give them a powerful speech (powerful for me, probably totally not impressive for them) on how dare they not follow my perfectly planned system.
Or not to call them down and ignore it at the moment, and instead enjoy the much needed peace and quiet.
And face reality that no system is perfect, quite simply because kids aren’t perfect. They’re not supposed to be.
I could do what the moms in the parenting books do – collect the shoes, hide them, wait till everyone is looking for them the next day and then bargain with them what they had to do to get it returned.
But quite frankly – I didn’t have precious energy to invest in that, with that many pairs of shoes all around.
So I won’t be a mom from the parenting books.
I left the shoes where they were.
I made a mental note to show them in the morning where they left their shoes and remind them about my perfect shoe organizer.
And I made a second mental note to myself, to remind me to stop looking for perfect solutions. Workable, yes. Perfect, no. Because there is no such thing as perfection. Especially while you’re raising kids.