iVillager rain_spirit: Does getting rid of clutter really help mental woes also?
Fran Sorin: Yes, I do believe that it CAN help your mental state if you are doing it with the right mindset. But you'll need to be able to make the connection between physical clutter and mental clutter. And with certain personalities, such as mine, I cannot be efficient with clutter. And one last thing rain_spirit, remember to stay very focused on what ever it is you are doing OK? Does that make sense to you at all rain_spirit?
iVillager rain_spirit: Very much so. I have been reading about the connection between the two.
Fran Sorin: And it's good that you're doing reading about it as well!
iVillager c_ella: Fran, how do you deal with someone else's clutter, someone who LIVES with you?
Fran Sorin: LOL. That’s a tough one BUT there are ways. I think, especially if it's a spouse or partner, we tend to get angry when their style is different from ours. (Clutter style that is.) I think the most effective way is to sit down with your husband, set up a time, and let him know how important this 'clutter' issue is to you and that you need his support. DO NOT ATTACK HIM OR BE ANGRY.
iVillager c_ella: We have tried that, but then (honestly) I backslide and he stops trying and we are back at square one.
Fran Sorin: That is counterproductive, most probably he doesn't even know what you're talking about. You will need to explain to him precisely what needs to be done. Perhaps three things a day that he can work on, like picking up his dirty clothes and throwing them into the laundry bin, putting away the mail, and emptying the garbage. Don't overload him with a lot of information. Instill the change in him slowly, and positively reinforce him. Does that make sense c_ella?
iVillager c_ella: Yes, it’s just that he hangs on to things. Actually I would be happy if he just threw away the junk mail. How about the idea of letting him run out of, oh, socks and underwear?
Fran Sorin: Yep, start with three simple things and make sure he gets a BIG REWARD at the end. Remember, if you're angry it won't be helpful. You need to forewarn him that you are going to do that, don't pull surprises on him.
iVillager ireina: Okay, mine is a two-part question. To nurture my spirit I would need to make time for myself, after many years as a single parent. I have put my family before my needs and I want to know how to explain to my kids that I need this uninterrupted time. How can I reinforce this idea without feeling guilty?
Fran Sorin: I think a lot of women share these thoughts with you. First, there is no quick fix to stop your feelings of guilt once you begin to designate time for yourself. You have spent so many years putting others before you that taking care of your own needs is not yet part of your repertoire...and, as we all know, change doesn't happen without some feelings of discomfort. So, you need to have a leap of faith and tell yourself when you look in the mirror each morning or are driving car that "Yes, I can do this," and "Yes, I do believe in myself.”
As far as your kids, if they're old enough to understand, you can sit them down and explain that just as you want them to have their quiet time daily, you too need some special time for yourself. If they are able to give it to you initially, let them know how much you appreciate it. Depending on your schedule, you might want to leave a note on the fridge door stating at what time you are taking your private time that day, so that they know in advance to leave you alone. Let me know how you do with this, OK?
Getting your messy kids to help: iVillager rain_spirit: What if you are a "neat freak," want everything in its place, and your kids are slobs? Would you try the same thing as you stated for c_ella?
Fran Sorin: I think you do need to sit down with your kids and set up some kind of compromise where you can feel good enough about how they keep their rooms. Don't overwhelm them and don't be angry. Tell them you need their help. Have you ever tried a chore wheel on your fridge rain_spirit?
iVillager rain_spirit: Fran, they’re adults.
Fran Sorin: And they live with you??
iVillager rain_spirit: Right now...yes.
Fran Sorin: Well, dear rain_spirit, if I had adult kids living with me, I would let them know how much their behavior upsets me and how it makes me feel flustered, disorganized, etc. BUT, ultimately, especially because they are adults, they are showing a tremendous lack of respect towards you, their Mother, if they don't abide by your needs in your home. I would talk to them as adults and tell them that you need their cooperation. Don't ASK them for it, you need it. Otherwise the family will not operate well, and since they are living under your roof. NEED I SAY MORE?
iVillager 2crft4fr: Often times we say automatic words of thanks & appreciation to the grocery clerk, the UPS driver and unknowingly take it for granted that we MUST say these things to our loved ones, which is part of positive reinforcement, do you agree? Can we talk about some words to use to reinforce better behaviors, i.e. responsibilities, etc.?
Fran Sorin: Sure 2crft4fr, I think showing appreciation to loved ones is very much overlooked. Your point is well taken. When someone in your family does something kind for you, you should look them in the eye and say something like "I really appreciate what you did.” I know when I used to car pool my kids and they said, "Thanks for car pooling me, Mom,” it really did make a difference. If you see your husband or children being kind to other people, let them know how much you value it. In chores around the house, when someone does a new chore successfully, give them not only a “thank you,” but an explanation of why it means so much to you.
Gardening as a Nurturing Process:
iVillager piquant1: I've been having problems journaling about the giving garden. I have been working on an outside garden that I can view from the house. Can I use that as the giving garden? And, can you tell us a bit more about it?
Fran Sorin: Sure...you can use that piquant1. As far as the concept of a giving garden, I’m trying to find for all of us, including myself, what type of setting would nurture us the most without constantly thinking about tending it.
iVillager babydoll85: What do you do if you aren't into gardening?
Fran Sorin: It doesn't have to be an outdoor space...but I think there should be some connection to nature when doing this exercise. It can be a corner in a room that looks outside to a bird bath or tree - some type of setting that has to do with nature where you can experience serenity and a sense of replenishment for your soul.
iVillager sewsingmama: How do you keep that nature connection in the winter? I've just put the garden to bed. It looks sad - all covered up against the road salt.
Fran Sorin: Oh gee sewsingmama, there are so many ways. First of all, by getting out into your garden for a walkabout on a daily basis during the winter months, it is a great time to see a different side of your garden, to examine the bark on the trees, the evergreens, and to notice the sounds, sights, smells that are so different from the other seasons. And, of course, another way is to bring nature to you with potted plants, flowering plants, herbs, and seed growing. I'm even developing areas for my container gardens indoors.
iVillager sewsingmama: There is no garden in the winter - it is covered by plastic so the road salt won't destroy it. There is only pavement now. I brought as much as I could inside, but I live in a tiny tiny cottage. I do have all these cats and children and the dog around for nature too, anyhow.
Fran Sorin: That's wonderful! It sounds like you're doing a lot of good stuff already, keep it up! If you have either a plant in each room or have the luxury of buying fresh flowers, you are still in touch with nature. I've also found that working with dried flowers is another avenue that keeps the juices flowing in winter.
iVillager 2crft4fr: I am planning my garden for next year by enjoying "cooking" compost for it. I have also brought some of the herbs indoors (a flowering African violet does wonders, even DH noticed!).
Fran Sorin: Isn't it amazing 2crft4fr, how those little things actually do make a difference? I've got to tell you all that when I splurge on buying myself some flowers, I am amazed at how the arranging of these flowers in my home and then the living with them affects my mood profoundly!
iVillager krjrtjj: Yes, I wanted to know how I can get my family to join me in the my quest to simplify all of our lives.
Fran Sorin: Major task...but can be done. First, ideally, if you are married, you and your husband need to work together as a team and agree on what the priorities are in simplifying the family's life as a unit, taking into consideration each of the kids' needs.
iVillager krjrtjj: Do you have any suggestions? I get discouraged when I am the only one that is trying.
Fran Sorin: Yes, you have to call a family meeting again where no one is angry, but as a family you need to begin to simplify certain things so that all of you can have more time together, and not fill your life up with constant tasks and busy-ness.
iVillager krjrtjj: I have done that and it only lasts for about three days.
Fran Sorin: Well then krjrtjj, there is no accountability in this process. Do me a favor and e-mail tonight or tomorrow on the message board the exact situation and the issues that you are trying to work on, kids ages, behaviors, etc., and let's see how I can be helpful to you. I want to follow through with you but there’s not enough time here...and consistency is the most important thing in trying to help others change behaviors...OK?
Simplifying Your Life - Even If You Have Young Children:
iVillager tempomoore: My kids are young and I would love to simplify my life but I plan on doing that when the kids are grown. I feel if I give up things like the boat, quads, cable t.v., etc., I'm depriving them. Where’s the balance? I'm a very simple person but I don't want to take away from them.
Fran Sorin: Great question tempomoore, and there is no ONE RIGHT ANSWER. I think it takes a lot of soul searching, some willingness to experiment and see what feels 'right' and what doesn't.
Fran Sorin: Hmmm...I must tell you tempomoore, the parent is always the leader. If you are firm in your convictions and are consistent and are willing to take the dissent from the kids, you can move forward on this - to what degree is your choice. But it does sound like you have a good case of 'maternal guilt,' which is not helpful to anyone.
iVillager tempomoore: I guess it was easier back in the day when everyone around was equal. I guess they grew up in a different generation, my childhood was simple.
Fran Sorin: Join the crowd my dear. But it is up to all of us women to lead (without sound hokey) our families, our colleagues, etc....to a simpler, less needy lifestyle dependent on things to fill us up. You know, women are really a strong species. We just need to believe in ourselves and support each other through change.
iVillager tempomoore: I guess deprive is the key word, that’s what I don’t want to do.
Fran Sorin: Well tempomoore, you just might be depriving your teenage kids of living a richer existence if you don’t.
Fran Sorin: Thanks everyone...please keep up the great work on the board. And good night!!