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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Monday, January 27, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Mama Bear Moxie: Sometimes the trash can is your best friend

By Kristina Phelan For The Spokesman-Review

I like to be organized. I find life is more at peace when I have everything planned and prepared. Cut to the way that my home looks like most days, and you would probably disagree that I am an organized mom. But with three kiddos, it is hard to keep the house organized on a daily basis.

I have always been amazed at the onslaught of papers that come home in backpacks. I quickly learned early in my parenting that I had to have a system. I had to keep up with the massive amounts of dead trees passing over my counter in order to keep my house somewhat civil. And the answer, my friends, was the trash can.

I am that mom that throws things away. Like a lot of things. If I deem it unnecessary, I immediately throw it away. I, of course, look over the graded homework or a page full of practiced letter writing, but it doesn’t stay in the house for long. I do save the cute art projects and the tests that received a great grade after a lot of effort, but I don’t feel the need to save every paper that my child has forgotten to write their name on. Nope, not this mom.

My kids have come to understand that mom is final judgment on what gets to stay or go, and we have lovingly dubbed the trash can the “round filing cabinet”. (I don’t know why though as I don’t think our garbage can was ever actually round). My older boys know that I throw away everything and assume that I have cleared away the trash whenever they look for something that they forgot to take care of. “Mom probably tossed it” is a common phrase in our house, and I won’t apologize for it.

Our daughter has also come to this realization. At first, I thought that maybe I should hide this from her and sneakily throw away papers during naptime, but I decided that she might as well learn the truth now. I told her that I will keep special things, and she has come to love the artwork area of our home where special pieces get hung up. But she also knows that mom will look over her work and then sweep it into the trash.

When my boys were little, we had a playroom that housed all of their toys. There were many occasions when my patience wore out and I would go into the room armed with trash bags. I would close and lock the door and go through all of the bits and pieces of broken and mismatched toys. The boys would scream and cry on the other side of the door and little fingers would slide under the door in a final attempt to keep me from tossing beloved toys. And by toys, I mean scraps of crayon wrappers, broken plastic parts of army men and train cars missing wheels and axles.

I still look at everything that comes into my house, but I refuse to keep papers that I will never look at again. I pick out the special items and save them for reminiscing later on in life when that same toddler will be driving or in college. I know that other parents save paperwork and have much more elaborate systems, but this is what works for me. If you are also a mom that is all about your own round-ish filing cabinet, I see you girl. Solidarity sister!

Kristina Phelan is a former Spokane-area resident now living in Illinois who writes about family and faith. Contact her at kristina@mama or visit her website at www.mamabear

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