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. 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.)
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.