My mother-in-law says that her house is too clean. She says she likes the toys on the floor and the extra laundry that accompanies our visits.

My mom told me that after we leave she likes to leave the handprints left by my children on the windows, and she’s sad when she wipes them off.

I am a bit of the artistic type. Visual art is not my forte, as you’ll come to know. I love to bake and write and record music. Baking is messy and writing music takes time. My house is in perpetual disarray. Not because I like it that way, but because there are so many other fun diversions that I value more.

I let my kids climb on the wall, we call it Spider-man. It teaches coordination and it is just plain fun.IMG_1410 This leavs build-up and smudges on the walls. I trade clean walls for fun times. Then, once a week, the kids are assigned to wipe the walls. If there’s a choice between doing dinner dishes right after the meal and making Jello Popcorn and cuddling my kiddos – I am more than okay waking up to a counter full of dishes. There comes a point, though, when the fun is inhibited by the chaos – so I clean.

Sometimes I wish I could have a maid whose sole responsibility is to follow us around, straightening up after we are done playing. Then I consider how much I would pay for that service. I think to myself, “If I do the work, that’s like getting paid to do it because the work would get done and we’d keep the cash in the bank account.” Then I hire myself to be a maid for an afternoon. This trick works a couple times a year, but overall I struggle to keep my home clean.

I read those little poems about “handprints” that remind us to enjoy the kids while they are little, and I embrace the excuse to decompress the expectation for my house to look like kids don’t live in it. Because, frankly they do, and it is silly to place that kind of pressure on myself.

My standard: I like to be able to raise our home’s tidy-level to “Not Embarrassing” with 10 minutes of crazy-head cleaning.

I used to feel swamped by the volume of work to be done, then I remembered that I am not the only one capable of cleaning. I am not the only one making the mess. It defies reason to assume that I can homeschool my kids (that means they NEVER leave) while simultaneously keeping up, single-handedly, with the mess made by myself (yes, I make messes) and four kids (and hubby).

I have tried various chore charts, but none of them fit the needs of my home exactly so I just threw together a chicken scratch chart, to which I add tasks I see are neglected (thinking: someday I’ll type it up cute). As part of the kids’ homeschooling requirements they complete the chores of the day. It has worked well for the last few months. Nothing fancy. (Remember, I am a lover of visual art – not a creator of it.)

IMG_1411

One more thing I have to remind myself: Some women are just better at this than I, but, being a military family – moving homes on average every 2 years, it sure is difficult to settle in to “a place for everything.”

This lost cause is only tolerable when I allow the cleanliness of my parents’ and in-laws’ home, which I so desire, to be my goal for my own home when my kids are raised. I recognize that my strengths and weaknesses are individually mine and where I fall painfully short – I make up for in other ways. The state of my house doesn’t constitute my worth as a human, or even as a “home-maker.” So – I’m okay with a clean house being a lost cause . . . for now.

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8 thoughts on “A Clean House

  1. I am VERY much the same way, so it is nice to hear I am not alone. I do have to tell you I have found a chart that has worked WONDERS for me for YEARS now! It’s the FAMILY DO DO system and it’s just generic enough I can change it whenever I need. We have moved every year for the last 13 years and this system has passed the test through 2 moves now! It kept up my house! I have 5 kids, almost 6, and I am super impressed with this system. I don’t do it nearly as extreme as the mother who created it but that’s what’s amazing, is I don’t have to. I do it how it works for me! Yay! Anyway, I just had to share, because it’s already cute and easily changeable. I LOVE this article! Thank you for sharing!

  2. I remember your oldest brother “spider-manning” his way down our hallways when he was young. It always amazed me that he didn’t fall or get hurt. Maybe some of you other children did it, too, but I don’t remember that. Also, I remember our walls having wood paneling on them, so they didn’t show the hand and foot marks! I love it that your children are up and moving and doing things to have fun…and not just sitting in front of a computer or other gaming device for entertainment. And, much of the time, you’re doing those fun things with them and setting the example. Way to go!

  3. I also wanted to comment on your insight that you “are not the only one capable of cleaning” and that you “do not make the messes” by yourself. I believe our “job” as a mother is to create a safe, loving environment where we have the opportunity for a few years to teach young human beings how to take care of themselves in the future. After they graduate from our “home school of life”, hopefully, they are confident and prepared to take on the world and succeed. That would include things like cooking, cleaning, caring for the dog, brushing teeth, feeling sorry for wrong doing, being responsible and following through on commitments…..the list goes on. Cleaning up messes is a part of the picture, but so are so many, many other important traits and skills. Then they become responsible for training the next generation. Mom gets to “teach” them how to clean up messes. I loved it when we came home to wonderful baked potatoes Phillip had prepared for us when we were visiting!!! Mouthwatering and done to perfection! And your children were a wonderful help to us while you were gone. As well as being loving and kind to us and each other. It’s hard when you’re in the middle of child rearing to see all that you’re accomplishing and learning. The real pleasure comes when you’re a grandparent!!!!

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