I have found that having kids and a having a clean house are like oil and water – THEY DON’T MIX!!! I find myself apologizing to people for my messy house constantly. My worse offenders are my oldest and my youngest. The two in the middle TRY to pick up after themselves. This Lens introduces you to my world and the attempts I have made to keep our house fairly clean. I am still on that journey but love to talk about it.
You should have been here last week when the house was clean….
I remember clearly taking my daughter out to a friend’s house to stay a while back; right outside the door was a sign that said “My House was Clean Last Week…Sorry You Missed it!” This made my husband and I chuckle to ourselves because that could be our family motto.
We live in a 5+ bedroom colonial brick home. Everyone has their own bedroom equipped with a dresser, TV, a place for their shoes, toy storage, and yes, a laundry hamper. Now within this household lives two adults (my husband and myself), an 18 year old boy, a 16 year old boy, a 12 year old girl and an 8 year old girl. If that isn’t enough we also have 6 dogs (border collie/lab mix, Viszla, German short hair/lab mix, border collie, mini long-long haired dachshund, English lab) and 3 cats. Insanity you say? Well for the most part we love living with a full home, fur and all. However, trying to keep the house organized and clean is a task that would drive most people crazy and I do have my moments of wanting to crawl up in the fetal position and suck my thumb until the house is spotless.
Now my husband and I have done several things to keep our house somewhat systematic. When we first moved in to our house we had a closet in our entry way that could hold four jackets and two pairs of my husband’s size 14 shoes. We also had hooks for the kids to hang their coats and book bags on. For 5 years I dreamed of having cubbies built in place of the closet. Each kid would have their own cubby to store coats, bags, sports equipment, and a couple of pairs of shoes. I just knew that this would cause the kids to be more orderly with their belongings.
As I was saying I believed that this would keep the kids more organized, as well as, keep my floor clear of shoes, coats, and backpacks. Unfortunately, I did not take into account that my kids have some sort of a blind spot on their left side. The reason I say this is because when they walk in the front door the cubbies are to their left, so you would assume that they would walk in the door and place their things in their cubby. Wrong!!! My kids walk right past the cubbies and begin dropping whatever they are carrying, leaving a trail behind them. As this happens I follow behind saying “You have cubbies!”
Now I know what you are thinking…we are the adults and we need to lay down the law. However, we are clearly outnumbered with 4 kids, 6 dogs, and 3 cats. Each kid has their own issue when it comes to picking up.
First there is the 18 year old boy. He is the stripper in the house. What I mean by this is that from the time he enters the door, after whatever sport’s practice he has been, he begins removing articles of clothing. His shoes, socks, sweats, sweatshirt, and last his shirt are scattered throughout the main floor of the house. On a few occasions I have also picked up shorts or jeans leaving me wondering if he is sitting somewhere in the house naked. After eating supper (leaving the dishes where he ate) he will take a shower, forgetting about taking the clothes up to one of the 6 hampers provided for him upstairs. Now besides being a stripper, he is also has some sort of disability that keeps him from putting the towels he uses into the hamper in the bathroom. It is not unusual to find a plethora of wet smelly towels littering the floor. We have tried several attempts to cure him of this habit but to no avail he still cannot seem to find a normal place for his laundry. I would like to say that when we do point it out to him, he will immediately pick up his droppings and put them in their proper place.
Next we have the 16 year old boy…he has a condition called extreme laziness. Unlike his older brother, he does normally put his things into his cubby. However, he is plagued with the attitude of why clean up when it is just going to be a mess again. This belief applies mostly to his room and the kitchen. Just last night he was asking me to wash a bowl for him so he could make some soup in the microwave, claiming that he is just not good at washing dishes. I laughed and told him that if he wanted soup, he needed to clean his own bowl. He finally did, but not without some groveling to get me to do it first. As for his room…have you ever seen a person walking around picking up cans to take to the redemption center? Well lets just say that if they somehow found their way in to my son’s room, they would hit the bottle/can jackpot. He claims that he forgets to throw them away, but we know that it is the fact that he has to walk downstairs and throw them away in the kitchen. He has even used the I am waiting until I have more than one thing to throw away excuse. One thing? It is more like a whole garbage bag full – hefty size. He also has an aversion to making his bed, which he claims he does not know how to do. Now I realize that every morning when he gets up it looks like he was in a wrestling match with five WWE stars, but to pull up a sheet and comforter really is not that hard, yet he still rarely makes his bed. He also contributes to the towel chaos in the bathroom but tries to convince us that he does not use towels. The one thing we do not find of his around the house or on the floor of his room are clothes. He does somehow manage to put them in hampers strategically placed throughout the upstairs of the house.
Thirdly we have the 12 year old diva, I mean girl. She is the forgetful one…or so she would have us believe. If you ask her why her things are not in her cubby the answer we get is “I forgot”, if you ask her why the game she got out 10 minutes before is not put away she will say “I forgot”, if you ask her why her clothes are still in her clothes basket waiting to be put away, yep you guessed it “I forgot”. Out of all the kids she is the one who will get out something to play with, use it for 10 minutes, then get sidetracked, and move on to a whole new activity forgetting about the one she had just gotten out. By the end of a Saturday, you will be able to locate all the areas in which she occupied because of the items she has left throughout the house. Now, while she is by far the largest contributor to our organized mess, she is also the one who helps the most when it comes time to clean it up. It is crazy because she actually likes to clean.
Last is the 8 year old girl. Everyone has heard of the terrible twos, but let me assure you that a eight year old trying to become her own boss is far worse. Her idea of picking up is picking herself up and walking to another room. She has the attention span of a gnat, like many her age. She will start playing in one spot and end up in another with a whole different set of toys. She loves to help me clean but when it comes to picking up her own mess you would think that the sky is falling. It is something we work on daily.
While this whole article seems to be geared towards my personal experience, I want to take you back to the beginning and the sign I read “My House was Clean Last Week…Sorry you Missed it” that was on the outside of the door. I told the mom of my daughter’s friend that I loved the sign and needed to find one for my house as well. She laughed and then passed on some advice; she told me that there would be plenty of time for a spotless house when the kids were grown and that she would much rather spend her time having fun with her kids instead of making sure every thing was off the floor, dusting, vacuuming, and making beds. Little did I realize that her time would be cut short. She passed away 5 months later.
The advice she gave me was right. I have watched people become so immersed in keeping their house spotless that nothing else matters. My house is a home, better known as an organized mess. I have learned to walk past the book bags on the floor, the shoes on the couch, and the empty plastic pop bottles left around. I do ask them to pick up after themselves but I also realize that kids make messes and when there are four of them plus whatever friends are over for the day, spending all my time following after them is time taken away from just having fun. So, when you feel like screaming when things are more unorganized and messy as you would like, realize that there will be time later ,when the kids are grown, to have the perfectly clean house.
Mom of 5 amazing kids, married to Shawn, retired teacher of 19 years, cares for a total of 9 pets (3 frisky cats and 6 great-tempered dogs), daughter, really amateur photographer, photoshopper, a football, wrestling, track, baseball, dance, and tumbling mom, zazzle designer, constant dieter, handles the budget, hates to cook, addicted to coffee, trying-to-quit smoker, TV potato, and passionate about writing.