Alright, I’m climbing up on a soapbox today, but I promise I won’t stay here long. ; )
It seems like almost every week I stumble across an article written by someone claiming that they have a messy home because their kids are too busy being “happy” and “having fun.” These articles spread like wildfire on facebook. It’s a bandwagon so many are quick to jump on because it sounds good and it makes you feel good- unless you have a clean home. A few quotes that most everyone has probably heard are: “messy homes mean happy kids”, “my house is messy because I’m busy playing with my kids”, or “Our home is messy because we are too busy making memories.” Lately there have been a slew of articles flying around insinuating that if you have a clean home, your children are being ignored or are being deprived of having a fun childhood. Today I stumbled across this article (which is what started my rant. Ha): http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/parenting/wp/2014/07/21/i-blamed-my-wife-for-our-messy-house-i-was-wrong-for-many-reasons/. The following quote is one of the statements that really got me, “I’d rather not be that mom who ignores our kids, and myself, because I’m so busy worrying about what the neighbors might think of our messy house.”
I want to start by saying that whether you keep a spotless house, a pig sty, or somewhere in between- it doesn’t matter to me. I’m not trying to persuade anyone either way. It’s your house and and you and your family are the ones that need to be content and happy with it. I’m not here to judge anyone’s house or home-keeping abilities, it just seems like statements like the ones made in the above article are being thrown around often, and it is degrading to those of us who work hard to keep a clean house. Making it sound like moms with clean homes sacrifice their children’s happiness and “ignore” them so they can live in a clean home. My house is not spotless, but it is most always clean. If it’s not clean, it’s about 5 min away from being clean. I don’t enjoy cleaning by any means, but I am happier in a clean house. In fact, I feel like I’m losing my grasp on my house and life when I start getting behind on my household duties. I just can’t do clutter. It makes me feel like I’m slowly being suffocated. It’s just my personality- I can’t help that. I also feel a strong responsibility to Ryan. I feel guilty when he gets home and I haven’t had time to pick up the playroom or if the kitchen is messy from me and the kids cooking or just from a busy day. As a middle school principal Ryan gets his fair share of chaos. It’s not something I want him to always have to come home to too. Some days it is unavoidable and some days with little kids ARE sheer chaos, but I try to control it as much as I can.
With that said, here are a few reasons why I have a clean house AND happy kids, and why it is important to me. : )
1. Sometimes my kids help me clean and I think it’s good for them. No, they don’t do a very good job. Yes, it usually takes twice as long. This morning Easton helped me sort his and Kinsley’s clean laundry so I could take it to the room it belonged in. It did take longer, but it was so fun to see him running back and forth between the two baskets figuring out where the clothes needed to go. Then we all went to the rooms the clothes belonged in and I put them away while the kids played. Sometimes Kinsley sweeps up messes under the kitchen table after they eat, and she’s pretty good at it! In fact the other night Ryan was gone and I had gotten the kids their food and then ran to the bathroom while they were eating. Easton decided to dump his rice and quinoa all over the floor and when I came back into the kitchen Kinsley had grabbed the broom and swept most of it into a pile and said “See mom, look what I did for you!” How awesome is that? They also help me pick up the play room when we’re done playing, and now Kinsley is at the age that she can pick up her own room and put the stuff where it actually goes. As any parent knows, it is not possible to always include the kids in the household cleaning, but I do when I can because I feel like it is important for them to learn to clean up after themselves. I realize doing chores together is not the same as just sitting down and reading or playing blocks with them, but we do plenty of that too.
2. Sometimes my kids help me cook. Sometimes we make things specifically for them so they can be involved such as cookies and church bread, and then other times I let them help me cook so that I can get things done that I need to. The other day we ran out of our breakfast granola bars and peanut butter oatmeal balls and the kids “helped” me make more. It gets messy, but they have fun mixing and stirring and it is a learning experience. It does take longer and there is a bigger mess to clean up when we’re done, but I get to do things that I need to get done and they get to help and be involved. The thing I like best about letting them help is that they are not in other rooms trashing them while I am doing something completely different. At least it consolidates the mess so it’s easier to clean up. ; )
3. My kids DO get to make messes and have fun even though I keep a clean house. I work hard for my clean house and I do not feel like I spend any less time with my kids to have it. In fact, I usually work “overtime” to keep it clean. I clean on and off all day long because I clean as I go. We eat breakfast, we clean it up. We trash the playroom playing, we clean it up. We make cookies, we clean up the mess. The kids go outside and get filthy playing in the yard, we clean them up. That may sound exhausting to some, but it’s a priority to me. Also, since I clean as we go throughout the day when the end of the day hits, I don’t feel completely overwhelmed. I do still have chores once the kids go down, but not near as much as I would have to do had I not cleaned as we went during the day. If you’re lucky like me, you have a husband who often helps on these last chores for the day. For some this type of schedule might seem ridiculous. I mean, you’re just gonna get it dirty again the next day, right? Yep. You’re right, you will. But at least I get to start the next day with a clean slate.
4. I have little eyes on me. Even though she is only 3 years old, right now I am in the beginning stages of teaching my daughter how to be a home keeper, wife, and mother. She partially learns this from me and my actions, and to me that is a big responsibility. One I often feel like I am failing at. It is a heavy weight on my shoulders knowing that I have little eyes constantly on me, and that my actions are helping to form and shape who they are becoming.
As mothers and fathers we ALL have weaknesses and areas that we waste time that we’ll never get back. Maybe it’s facebook, pinterest, or tv. Maybe it’s long showers, naps, lounging around, or reading books and articles. It doesn’t matter what it is, the point is that there is no possible way that every free minute that a mom could be cleaning is spent playing with her children, nor should it be that way. Trying to say that one spends all day playing with their kids instead of doing other things (like a quote in the article above insinuates) is completely absurd. Our children are capable of and should learn to entertain themselves also. It is important to spend time with them, to read to them, to teach them new things, and to play with them, but it is not feasible for that to take place all day long. For some reason we as mothers feel like we need to constantly justify our actions. It is OKAY and necessary to spend time on ourselves. It is OKAY to choose to take a shower instead of cleaning up the mess from lunch. It is OKAY to lay down and read during the kids naps instead of cleaning the bathrooms. It’s okay.
Alright, Kinsley just came sprinting out of her room from her nap. Guess I’ll be cutting this rant off abruptly. I’ll leave you with a picture of my special little “helpers.”