Want to know how to turn a neatnik into a slob?
Get her a bunk bed.
That's been my experience. Remember a couple of year ago, when we got the kids bunk beds, so we could fit our family of soon-to-be six into a three-bedroom townhouse? It was a move born of necessity, but it proved very popular. The kids loved the bunks. Connor and Natalie were proud, even a little cocky, about sleeping up so high, and Teyla, just 2 the time, adored sharing a room with her big sister. And they looked good, I will admit that.
But immediately - and I do mean IMMEDIATELY - I discovered the bunk beds' tragic flaw. They are impossible to make. Before bunks, I had the kids make their beds every morning. And I do mean EVERY MORNING. After all, I'm the person who will make my bed 10 minutes before I get into it at night if I find it's been left disheveled all day. (Do you remember last summer, when I came home from a two-week road trip to discover my bed had been unmade the entire time?! It still makes me shudder.)
But bunk beds? You can't just pull up a quilt, smooth out the wrinkles, fluff the pillows and call it good. Making a bunk bed involves tugging and pulling and jerking and grunting. At some point, the mattress will have to be lifted so sheets can be tucked tightly, and it's possible the whole bunk frame will have to be shoved aside so you can disentangle the stuffed animal that has lodged itself next to the wall. Putting on a fitted sheet is a Sisyphean task: even if you manage to get one elastic corner tightened beneath the mattress, it will come springing back at you like a rubber band the minute you try to stretch the sheet toward another end.
Making a bunk bed is a workout which requires the flexibility of a Cirque de Soleil acrobat, the patience of Mr. Rogers and the limbs of Otto Octavius.
I learned quickly I wasn't going to get anyone to do that every morning, least of all me.
And just like that, I went from changing the sheets weekly to changing them quarterly. (That is NOT an exaggeration.) I went from fussing over the Pottery Barn Kid quilts to shrugging when the kids slept on top of them, instead of beneath them. I let them keep Legos and books and a scrum of stuffed animals on their beds and sometimes even markers, and I sigh resignedly when I see that their top sheets are scrunched in a ball underneath their blankets at the foot of their bed.
In fact, in the interest of keeping it real, here are pictures I took of my kids beds just a few minutes ago.
Before, that kind of mess would have sent my faux-OCD into hyper mode. "Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!"
But now? Eh. It's easier just to walk away.
And that's not necessarily a bad thing. It sounds trite, but I'm serious when I say that letting the bunk beds go has helped me let go - of control, of impossible standards, of self-imposed ideals. It's reminded me that my life is not summed by a bed well-made but by a family well-loved.
Besides, I still have my bed. And it gets made every day.
Some things will never change.