Housecleaning is a never ending saga. Some days it feels like you spent the entire day pushing a heavy block up an incline, and you go to sleep with a feeling of great satisfaction only to wake up the next morning and find you slid partway down the slope again. So day after day, you keep pushing your way upward making more progress than you lose, but still never quite making it to the top. This can become extremely frustrating.
Take this weekend for example. The boys were both slated to have friends over on Saturday, so Friday night the five of us spent the time between dinner and bedtime picking up and organizing the toys. In retrospect, it seems kindof silly that we picked up the toys just to have kids come over and play with the toys…but the basement was a disaster. I hadn’t made it down there to pick up at all in over a week, and goodness knows the kids never do. It took us about 30-40 minutes to get everything organized. It was such a nice feeling to have everything put away, and see everything in such pristine condition.
Over the next hour, the kids were all put to bed. At some point after they’d gone to bed I went downstairs to grab something off the desk. The first thing that I noticed was that during the time that I was putting the kids to bed, one or more of them had come back downstairs and gotten some of the toys back out to play with. Now I’m not completely unreasonable, I understand that toys are to be played with and that my basement wouldn’t stay looking perfect forever. But I did have the expectation that it stay looking that way overnight and until the kids play dates came over the next morning. Given that we didn’t clean the basement until almost bedtime, and the kids were supposed to be over shortly after breakfast, I really didn’t think this would be a difficult task. So, I gritted my teeth and picked up the basement for the second time that night.
The next morning we had a few things to accomplish before the kids arrived; everyone needed breakfast and baths, and the rest of the house needed a quick final picking up. So I got started on the cleaning, and was making decent progress through the house. Then I went downstairs to put something away and saw that yet again the kids had gotten into the toys and made a mess. At that time, my frustration level hit the boiling point. I picked up the basement for the third time in just over 12 hours, and went back upstairs to finish my housecleaning.
I know this makes me sound like a horrible ogre who cares more about a clean house than allowing my children to have fun, but it’s really not like that at all. I understand all too well that while my children are young that things are going to get stained, broken, and ruined. I understand that no matter how hard I try the house will never be truly clean because whereever I am cleaning up a mess, the kids will inevitably be somewhere else in the house making a mess. I do try to get them to help me with the cleaning, and there are chores that they are expected to do, but at times having them help is a bigger headache than just doing it myself (that may be the control freak in me though).
Despite my massive frustration over the state of the basement, the kids friends did eventually arrive and the boys had a blast with their friends. The lessons that I learned from this experience were if I really wanted the basement to stay clean until their friends arrived that I shouldn’t clean it up until 30 minutes prior to their arrival…and that 4 hours is just a little bit too long for a dual play date. By the time their friends left I was ready to crawl back into bed and start the day over.