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Cleaning 102 – The Breaking Point.

I’m at my whit’s end.

Cleaning in our house is largely one-sided, and has never been very productive.

I blame myself mostly. Our children are natural-born mess makers, fo sho. But when Punkin was the only kid, picking up after her wasn’t such a big deal. It was just one kid. I could handle that. However, my doing that bred one of the messiest kids I have ever seen. She literally just drops things, all over. Jacket off – drop it on the floor. Shoes off – leave ’em where they land. Tried on 3 outfits – clothes are scattered all over the bedroom. Done with snack – apple core is left in the middle of the table with a half-finished cup of milk.

These traits passed on to Goo. I’ve been better with her, getting her more involved in cleaning, but nowhere near as strict as I should have been. Now that Smush is walking, she’s tearing into everything. Dumping bins of toys, yanking entire collections off book shelves, opening drawers and dumping the clothes. I have learned something recently:

You cannot – CAN. NOT. – keep up with three kids the way you keep up with one. Considered yourselves warned.

I’ve tried here and there to change things. “Okay guys, don’t forget, when you’re done with one toy, put it away before you take out another one.” “Listen girls, we’re going to start cleaning up the play room every night before bed.”

That last one is a great idea, provided you never have to eat and run to play practice/church/gymnastics. Or provided your children never have a bad day and spend more time throwing tantrums than cleaning. Or provided you’re never too flippin tired to stay on top of them every second to make sure it gets done.

And so I give up. I clean it myself. I tell myself that next time, I’ll really make them do it all.

This has gone on for 7 years.

This week, something happened. I’m not sure what did it. Maybe it was the complete and utter destruction of the play room after I reorganized it – again. Maybe it was vacuuming the house 3 times in one day and seeing that the living room still needed it again that night. Maybe it was mopping the floor only to find smudges and drips an hour later. Whatever it was, I hit it: my breaking point. I looked at the Nerd one day this week and said, “I can’t do it anymore. I’ve had it. I’m done. I can’t keep up with this mess. And something has to give.”

My standards are pretty low. I don’t buy brand names. I don’t need new cars (my swagger wagon is used and I’m still in love). We’ve never owned a house. My furniture is all broken, hand-me-down pieces, except for one room. My pots and pans are warped so that they don’t lay flat on the burner, and the lids don’t stay on. My food processor leaks liquid every time I use it.

All I’m asking for is a clean house. One where I have time to keep the floors mopped and the bathroom scrubbed because I’m not spending every moment and shred of sanity I have on picking up freaking Little  People because if I leave them in the hallway I will step on them in the middle of the night.

So I’ve decided that the least I should get is, in fact, a clean house. I’m the opposite of high maintenance. I don’t expect things for my birthday, or mother’s day (even though, Nerd, a whole day off for mom’s day would be awesome). I cook, I clean, I agonize over menu ideas on a too-small grocery budget and a kid with food sensitivities that needs natural and organic foods. I put in hours of volunteer time for church activities. So just pick up your flippin clothes, mmm-kay?

Side note: I wrote most of this post a few days ago, but didn’t publish it because I’m all about the visual and I didn’t have any relevant photos. WordPress recommends photos of British people in their living room, and pieces of scrapbook paper. Because that’s appropriate to this rant.

And then, this happened:

And with this leaves my last shred of sanity.

This happened at 6:30. In the morning. Best part? It occurred after I hit my breaking point, and made the girls clean the play room and bedroom, with no help from me. That took, drum roll please…

Four hours.

Four hours to do a job I could have done in 30 minutes, tops. Then this? You’ve got to be kidding me. The clean up of this mess lasted 1.5 hours and involved 4 time-outs and excessive screaming and yelling. On both our parts. Not even a venti nonfat no whip salted caramel mocha could fix that. Which is why, in the past, I always made the mistake of stepping in. But not this time. This time, I am going to remember that for a little suffering now, I will be reaping in the rewards of a lesson learned for years to come. It’s just like sleep training. Teaching your baby to sleep independently sucks in the beginning. For a few days. And then, a miracle happens: they learn. They sleep all night, without you, and you wake up each morning ready to frolic through a field of daisies.

Or at least ready to hit “On” on the coffee maker.

So I’m sticking with it. I’m making them clean up. But because I’ve already wasted a significant amount of my your our time, I will leave the details of the plan to another post. The Nerd and I have a few tricks up our sleeve, and it’s going to revolutionize the way things are done around here. Oh. heck. yes.


About Mediocre Mom

I am a wife to the man who was made for me, and mom to three amazing girls: Punkin is eight, Goo is four, and Smush is two. I'm a Christian, a science geek, and completely addicted to coffee. Trying to stay sane one day at a time. Lowering the bar for moms everywhere.

7 responses »

  1. Theresa Gahagan

    Score! You go girl!

    • Thank you! The Nerd and I had this “Aha” moment where we realized that if our home life wasn’t what we want it to be we should change it. We’re the parents. We can do that. Shocking , I know. 🙂

  2. Been there done that. Every Friday the boys take turns one vacuums the house the other mops. Sometimes Jadon and Makayala chip in too. Still is a battle sometimes but oh so worth it. I’m not sure when my breaking point was. But I always tried the whole one toy at a time, yeah right. I always tried to do the clean up after yourselves. I think it wasn’t until we threw out a bag of webkinz and other toys that they finally got the point.

  3. Pingback: Cleaning 103 – the winds of change. « Confessions of a Mediocre Mom

  4. Sounds like my house. We have a glass coffee table with a 3 and 1 year old…are we just stupid? I shudder at the thought of anyone dropping in lest they see it for the science experiment of fingersmudge germs that it is. The whole house can get messy like that in an instant with kids. My husband and I are resolved to try to fix it. 🙂

    • Good luck! We had 3 very busy days, and I lost all the ground I had gained in the war against the mess. Sigh. Why is it that there is ALWAYS enough time to make the mess, but not enough time to clean it up?


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