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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

What a mess!

Maybe it was my frustration at 6am when I went to use the treadmill in the basement and had to crawl over a mountain of couch cushions, dress up costumes and popcorn all littering the floor from a play date the day before.  Maybe it was the wet towels and swimming suits on the floor again. Maybe it was one child's shrieking meltdown because it was time to get ready for dance and the dance outfit was not in the dance bag.  Maybe it was finding a piece of cheese under some one's bed.   Maybe it was giving very specific instructions on what needed to be cleaned up upstairs and then checking in to see how things were going to find out that there was absolutely nothing at all going.   Maybe that's what made me blow.  Every parent who has ever been home with children for any stretch of time (I am not just talking about stay at home parents--- a long weekend, holiday breaks, vacation) knows what comes with the territory, lots of meal prep and clean up, laundry, picking up, cheering up, running around, putting away.  You just keep going, the Energizer Bunny becomes your idol.  This job takes stamina, strength, organization, a sense of humor, an ability to think quickly and change direction at a moment's notice and most of all it takes boatloads of patience.  But when you have those qualities and it's a good fit there's nothing better.  It's a whole lot of fun, you know, never a dull moment, never a chance to be bored and you're around a hilarious, fun bunch of people.  But even though I'm crazy about being home with these three girls this summer there are a few things I just cannot abide and feeling like Hilda the Maid is one of them.  I cannot keep up with these people and their messes.  I just can't.  As soon as I clean up one meal, or put away some laundry they've destroyed a room and might even have moved on without so much as a thought about cleaning up.  Some of them change clothes multiple times a day.  One uses a towel once and then leaves it crumpled on the floor all the while seeming not to realize that the idea of the towel is dry off with it, she instead drip dries all over the place.  Trust me, I could keep going but you get the picture.  

You've probably seen this somewhere.  It's a lovely way to think because creative children (and adults, me included) are big mess makers.  I'm not against messes made from fun and creative play.  I'm against  having the house condemned because we're living in a pig pen.

So you see I had to do something.  
 I could:
1.) ignore it  
2.) nag all summer long
3.) just do it all myself

Option 1 was never a real option.  I do not posses the ability to ignore messes.   I might act like I'm ignoring it but it's driving me crazy. 

Option 2 seemed exhausting and futile.

Option 3 seemed to be the easiest for me to wrap my head around but seemed to be admitting defeat and choosing poor parenting over hard parenting.  I want to raise responsible, hard working, productive people. Part of that means they have to be able to clean up after themselves and it's my job to teach them that.  

So I came up with 
4.) You WILL clean this up and I don't care if it takes you all the live long day.

You won't believe how much they have cleaned today.  If things keep going this well I may be willing to hire them out.  2 girls and and a mop.  They are AMAZING!  They've moved on from cleaning to general help and are counting Boxtops without so much as a little bitty whine right now.  It's a whole school's worth of Boxtops too....no joke, I'm having them do my PTO job.  I know this is just the beginning, the hard part is the everyday work.  They know I'm serious though and I don't think they really want another hard labor day this summer.  I've also come up with a chore chart for each girl and we're going back to allowance, which we left in the dust (pun absolutely intended) a few months ago.  I'm also tying allowance to chores which we've not done in the past.   I don't deny some of this is my fault.  The school days get so busy and sometimes it's just easier to do it all myself and when they're not here during the day to continue on their mess making crusade I can keep up with it.  Can you imagine how much free time I might have next year if they can catch on to this idea over the summer?  This thought will keep me strong!

She's the neatest of the bunch....by far!  Though I do remember the other two were pretty neat toddlers too.    What happened?!



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