This week all three of us had the stomach flu.  It was, in a word…gross.  The stuff that comes out of a body that’s dealing with a stomach virus is disgusting – enough said.  Add to that the weakness, stomach cramps, nausea, headaches (although that may have been caffeine withdrawal), and the burning of sensitive skin in sensitive areas due to the caustic chemicals being expelled.  Never mind the panic that sets in when you don’t think you’ll make it to the safety of the bathroom in time.  Or the fear of leaving the house, even after you’re no longer feeling like death warmed over, just in case you’re not quite done being sick.  Ahh, it’s been quite the week.

But now that it’s mostly over, I’ve been thinking about how I can learn from even this experience.

A few weeks ago, my sweetie decided to do a cleanse.  This flu acted much like that cleanse – it rid my body of every possible bit of waste, including 5 lbs of weight.   And it made me realize that there is quite a bit of waste in my life that I could also be getting rid of.  Some of it is concrete and some of it is more abstract. 

"Three weeks after throwing something away, you'll need it again"

For example, we have a lot of stuff in our house.  Even though we did a major purge just seven months ago when we moved, we didn’t get rid of everything that we could have, and we have accumulated yet more stuff.  Our small 2-bedroom apartment always feels crowded.  The 65lb dog may have something to do with that, but I also think it’s because we have too much stuff.  Do we really need the tower of DVDs that we haven’t touched in over a year except to dust it?  Do we need two scratching posts in the living room and a cat spa that never gets used?  A whole whack of reference books that we never refer to because it’s easier to look it up online;  a shelf full of video games that no one has time or energy to play (psst, don’t tell my husband I said that);  and a storage room full of who-knows-what because we don’t actually need most of it.  So, I may start my spring cleaning a little late and freecycle a few more things. 

But there are not just physical things in my life that could go away.  There is emotional waste as well.  I realized this (again) when reading my friend Karina’s blog about how she managed a really crazy set of circumstances this week.  She talked about controlling one’s emotions in difficult situations – not ignoring them, but taking control.  That is something I struggle with a lot, it seems.  I am usually an easy-going, happy person.  Just ask anyone who doesn’t live with me.  But for some reason, ever since I became a stay-at-home mom, my blood boils very quickly when I’m stressed or pressured.  

If you’ve got kids, you know about the witching hour – a period of time near the end of the afternoon when everyone goes a little nuts.  In our house it starts around 5pm when I realize I haven’t started making dinner, but I’m too exhausted to think about it.  And the Bean needs to have her dinner, and I don’t just want to feed her cheese and crackers again, but I do because she’s too hungry to wait for me to cook something.  Or I do make her wait while I cook something more nutritious, and she’s cranky and throws every toy I try to give her onto the floor.  And the dog and cat both want their dinner, so they are tripping me up in the kitchen.   And then my sweetie calls to say he’ll be home in half an hour, and I still don’t even know what I’m going to make for dinner.  And then the dog wants to go out, and come in, and go out, and come in.  And suddenly there I am yelling at nobody and everybody, but especially the dog.  Whew! 

All that negative energy that comes out of me is not something I like to have around.  It’s garbage, trash, waste.  I want to get rid of it.  I went out for a walk this morning and thought this through.  I need a strategy so that I don’t get myself into the situation where the demands of my family stress me out like that.  Does it mean the Bean gets to watch an hour of Sesame Street some days while I make dinner?  Maybe.  Would it help to feed the animals before they start to drive me crazy?  Probably.  Can I figure out earlier in the day what I am going to make for dinner?  Definitely.  I need to do some spring cleaning of my stress triggers and get rid of the ones that create the negative energy that can ruin the end of an otherwise great day. 

So that is my project for this week.  Plan ahead more, be more thoughtful about how it’s all going to work out, and have a plan in place to alleviate the particular triggers that make me into Monster Mommy. 

I’d love to hear what kinds of things you do to make your witching hour go more smoothly.  Ready, set, COMMENT!