Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Cleanliness is next to Craziness

I'm messy. My hubby is messy. The kids are messy. The cat is messy. We all live together in a messy house. And we are quite happy being little messy people!

While you may not always be able to eat off our floor (unless you are a dog, in which case I'd like to invite you over after dinner every night) the house is as clean as it is gonna get with two young kiddies running around. And that's just fine.

It has been suggested that we hire 'help'. This makes me cringe for several reasons. First of all the term 'help' means that we are (or, really, lets face it, I am) incapable of taking care of ourselves. That we require assistance in everyday living. I'm sorry, I think that if I can't keep my house relatively clean, do the laundry and take care of my own kids, I don't need help, I need a smaller house and kids that have learned how to fold tea towels.

Oh, but it is just 'outsourcing' the 'non value-added tasks'. I know the value of my time and I certainly don't want to be spending every waking minute of my life cleaning toilets and washing floors. I also don't want to work away from my home and kids just to employ other people to do the things that I (we) are perfectly capable of doing ourselves. Either we do it, or we go to work in order to pay someone else to do it. If we had any disposable income (and is there anyone with kids these days that does?) we could think of a hundred things we needed before spending it on 'help'. 

We had maids come in once. I asked for it for my birthday present two years ago, thinking people were right, I needed a little treat. Well it was outrageously expensive and I had to wash the floors again after they left because they didn't do it properly. Total waste of a birthday present. Should have asked for a spa day.

Cleaning the house is a life skill, I learned it from my Mom and she learned it from hers. I intend on teaching my kids how to take care of themselves. I grew up with Saturday morning cleaning, each kid took a task: clean bathrooms, dust entire house including mirrors, vacuuming, wash kitchen floor (that was usually my mom). When the house was clean and passed mom's inspection ("You call that clean? That's not clean! Look at this dirt! Well, do it again.") we could go out and play. If we were quick we were out the door by 10am, if we were lazy about it, or did a half-ass job, it took all day. We learned what 'clean' was, how to clean and how often things needed to be done. It wasn't torture, it was just Saturday. When the kids are old enough to do serious cleaning they will learn about this too. Right now they are far too little to be scrubbing tubs. One day...when they grow up a little...THEN I'll have my help!

There's messy and then there's dirty. We are just messy. We DO need to pick up after ourselves a bit more. I'm the worst - I like a good pile. Piles here, piles there, things are organized in little piles all over, but I do know where everything is! (Except my keys. My keys are always lost.) We've been doing a little better lately. I was in someone's neat house and thought "OMG, it looks like grown-ups live here.We still live like we're in university!" We (I) do need to grow up a bit and not leave things to be put away 'later' because later is never and then the piles grow. So I've been trying to be a neater grown-up.

Kids are just messy. It's a fact. When I see Liam covered head to toe in dirt I smile. Look at this kid! What a day! I know the dirtier he is, the more fun he just had. Sometimes his teachers apologize for his dirty pants or shoes or paint stains on his shirt - who cares! Toss them in the wash and do it all again tomorrow! He's a kid. If he's not messy, he's not having enough fun. And if he's not having fun, he's not learning anything. Its just dirt, (or paint, or food, or water, or whatever) it washes out... maybe. If not, oh well. A new rag!

The only time I get freaked out over messiness is if there is some risk to the kids' health. Like poop mess. Especially animal poop mess. Poop mess brings out the crazy cleanliness lady. Stop! Remove all clothing immediately! Quarantine clothing and shoes! Transfer child immediately to tub! Rinse thoroughly and then wash again!  Wash and sanitize any surfaces child/poop has come into contact with as well as clothing/shoes. Monitor child's health for a week. Thank goodness poop mess is rare. Wait, wait, did I say rare? Liam diarrhea-ed himself twice today due to a virus. And we have a fresh raccoon turd on our deck. And some mystery cat shits out hairballs regularly on our front lawn. So poop mess is less rare than I'd like it to be. Dammit.

So, we are kinda messy. Yup. And that's ok with us. Overall, I think it just comes down to lowering your standards a bit when you have young kids, not giving a shit when things aren't always perfectly tidy and just smiling when your messy self curls up next to your messy kid at night and falls asleep instead of staying up till midnight to pick up. I could choose to stress about the mess, I could choose to run myself ragged trying to keep everything tidy and clean, I could choose to use our hard-earned money to pay for a maid. Or, I could go to sleep. I choose sleep.

1 comment:

  1. So glad I am not the only one. My house is "clean" but I have long ago given up on having my house look the way it did when I was on mat leave and nesting before baby.


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