I have a dirty little secret. No, literally. My house is never nearly as clean as I would like it to be.
I daydream about waking up and the children playing nicely all day, complete with 3 hour naps, while I organize the basement and attic, and super clean every surface. I’m talking tile scrubbing with a tooth brush, scouring every crevice of every window with a Q-tip, until they gleam. Actually having a place for everything, and everything in its place. I have plans and potential layouts for shelving units and storage containers to line the walls of the basement, with neatly printed labels so there’s never a, “Where does this go?” moment. Inside of me there’s an anal retentive person screaming to get out. Where the art cabinet is organized alphabetically, cans are lined up by category and all facing outward in the pantry. And the playroom never has toys that don’t really belong in any of my previously arranged categories.
And then I snap out of it. I realize that I haven’t cleaned the crevices of the windows in a year, there are DVD’s and CD’s that don’t work mixed in with the ones that do, or randomly scattered on the shelf of the entertainment center. The basement looks kind of like a Salvation Army store exploded down there. I keep finding winter items, like a random boot, in odd places, because Goo is kind of like a squirrel and loves to stash items for later discovery. I usually discover this when we need to leave the house 5 minutes ago and I find that her left sandal is in behind the garbage bin under the bathroom sink and my keys are in her sparkly pink pocketbook in the dress up bin.
The bottom line is: I can never get my house clean enough. I’m so busy constantly picking up the day-to-day stuff, and washing laundry like it’s my job, and then pretending that I’m going to put away the laundry, even though we all know that isn’t going to happen. I don’t get time to do the deep scrubbing and perfect organizing that would make my heart sing.
Two days ago, I decided that enough is enough. We’re a big family (well, big-ish), and everyone needs to pitch in more around here. I can’t do the work of 17 people by myself. (Yes, I know there is only 5 of us, but the kids make the messes of 5 people each, plus the Nerd and I. So there you go.)
The play room was a disaster. Goo and Smush had dumped one thing after another, and it was utterly destroyed. I asked Emma to help me out by picking up the toys so I could focus on dishes/laundry/sweeping/vacuuming/dusting/cleaning the bathroom. I then decided to take a series of pictures to document the progress made in said cleaning. This is what it looked like at the start of the process. Don’t judge me.
Sigh. Punkin finds this overwhelming. I can’t imagine why. I know it’s a little daunting for a 7-year-old and a 3-year-old, but in my defense, I give them one category at a time. “Okay girls, while I do the dishes, you focus on blocks. Pick up all the blocks on the floor. Don’t worry about an.y.thing. else. Just do the blocks.”
Half an hour later, it looked like this:
This is where it’s less like, “Okay girls, just focus on the blocks.” And more like, “Girls, this is ridiculous. What have you done??? Have you picked up a single thing in the entire time I cleaned the kitchen? Pick. Up. The. Blocks.”
This is what it looked like an hour later, after I did laundry/showered/bathed the baby/picked up the living room.
At this point, I issue time-out warnings. Because I’ve been running around like a crazy person trying to keep up after things, and this is what they’ve managed to accomplish. What the what? You can single-handedly destroy my entire house in 3.7 seconds, but it takes you 90 minutes to clean a single corner of one room? God help me. No, God help you. Because if that playroom isn’t clean by the end of the day, you’re going to be begging for His help, believe me.
And here, my friends, is what it looked like the next morning.
After I spent an hour picking up and separating the toys by category into their appropriate bins, then cleaning and vacuuming, using the little corner attachment to get along the edges and behind radiators and such. I know, I kind of shot myself in the foot with this one. What I should have done was issue time out warnings at the beginning, and then painstakingly follow through like those parents on SuperNanny who take 67 minutes to complete a 2 minute time out because the kids won’t listen.
Here’s the only problem with that: I actually had other things to do. We had appointments that day. I can’t call up and be like, “I’m sorry, Dr. Pediatrician, we’re running late because SuperNanny says I always have to follow through.” Sigh.
And after all that, it’s still not my dream room. If I could, I’d have a place to put the bigger toys, too, like the shopping cart and push toy. I know they’re lined up neatly, but I feel like the room isn’t actually clean when there is anything but furniture on the floor. That’s my inner anal retentive person. Dear AR Me: I will let you out one day. Someday, my kids will be in college. And I will have a magazine-perfect home. With breakable things. And something white. I’m not sure what, but something will be white, just because it can be.
In the meantime, I think it’s time to break out Mean Mommy. The one who makes you pick up your toys/books/clothes/animals every. single. day. Until you get it through your adorable little heads that I’m doing it on my own anymore. Now where’s the time out chair…