Keeping The House Clean – It’s a Thankless Job

Cleaning the house while the kids are still growing is like shoveling the walk while it’s snowing. -Phyllis Diller

Truer words have never been spoken. There is nothing more futile or frustrating than trying to keep a neat and tidy house when it’s inhabited by a bunch of tiny saboteurs. Some Moms have been known to have nervous breakdowns while attempting to keep their house up to a museum-quality standard. Other wiser Moms have surrendered to the fact that little Johnny is intent on spilling any obtainable red liquid all over the beige carpet in the living room. Yep, just robotically whip out the spot remover and hope for the best. Have you considered hardwood flooring?

No sooner is one room in the house wiped up, dusted, vacuumed, straightened, and given the white glove treatment than the room that was cleaned beforehand is in a total state of disarray. Of course it wouldn’t be complete without one whirling dervish named Susie standing in the middle of it all. There’s no time to scold…you must now go back and do what was just undone while Susie puts her signature touch on the rest of the house. Like a dog chasing it’s tail, you are stuck in the never ending cycle, and thankless job, called “housework”. You’re either carpet cleaning, washing clothes or dusting from dusk to dawn.

There is no light at the end of the housework tunnel. Unless you want to become one of those strange hoarder people who always make the six o’clock news with their fascinating mountains of refuse spilling out of the windows, you’re in the cleaning thing for the long haul. And don’t dare miss one day! If you do, you will fall so far behind in the housework that your head will spin along with the laundry. Got the flu? Get up wuss! Didn’t you know that Motherhood is not for the weak? Those dishes are calling your name and there is no one standing in line waiting to wash them. Unless there’s a hot meal sitting in that kitchen for them, your kids, and probably your husband, ain’t going in there. Peek in and see the tumbleweeds rolling through and make sure you grab your broom to clean those up while you’re at it.

I’m not sure many new Moms realize the havoc that such small and cute kids can wreak on a house. When your first child is a newborn, there really isn’t that much more to do in the housekeeping department. Yes, there is a lot more laundry, particularly of the spot-removing nature, but besides that and sterilizing a bottle or two, you can maintain a fairly tidy domain. Unless your too exhausted. It’s when Junior starts to become mobile that things go downhill fast. Remember how those blowouts were mostly contained in those cute onesies? Well now Baby is zipping across the floor while letting loose. And projectile vomit? It used to be aimed at Mom and Dad, but now it’s covering the cushions on the couch.

Once kids start eating finger foods, they must be confined as best as possible. Do not have a fun Friday Pizza Night on the floor in front of the TV with a toddler holding a slice. That kid will paint the room with it. Also, give up on the idea of buying new furniture until your kids are at least tweens and can be held responsible for their messes. If anything, make them promise to keep their chaos confined to their bedroom. And please keep the door shut!

Some kids are a walking mess. Matted hair, a perpetually runny nose, and food-encrusted clothes make for a right proper ragamuffin. No amount of grooming improves these innately slovenly children and they like to leave evidence of themselves all over the house. Sticky little fingerprints cloud the windows and trails of crumbs are deposited on the floor like they’re trying to find their way out of the forest. These kids are affectionately called “fixer-uppers” and they need a little extra attention and training in the personal hygiene department.

Taking kids to visit a home where no children reside can be a real eye-opening experience for all parties involved. Kids always see a new place as an exciting world to be explored, and most of the time, conquered. Pristine furniture quickly gets climbed on and delicate, fragile collectibles will soon make the acquaintance of our good friend Super Glue. Parents are mortified and apologetic and the homeowners usually feign delight in the zest and spunkiness your children display. Maybe those questionable kid leashes you see children strapped into at the mall aren’t such a bad idea after all!

Martha Stewart once said that she loved to wake up every morning and see how much she could do in one day. Most real Moms just like to see how much they can do, and then redo on a daily basis. What makes things worse is if your husband is as bad, if not worse, than the kids. After all, bigger people make bigger messes, right? The black, crumpled socks strewn across the bedroom floor are bigger. The shoes that didn’t quite make their way into the shoe closet…again…are bigger. Grown men also typically eat more food so more dishes are generated waiting to get a good scrubbing.

If you feel like you can’t keep the house clean enough or you’re just too frustrated to try, you could always hire a cleaning person. Of course, you may have to pick up extra hours at work or a part-time job to pay him or her. Then you have to deal with the guilt of paying someone to clean when you could be doing it yourself at no cost. If anything it could free up some time during which you could create something like a quilt or a scrapbook that is permanent and out of the reach of small, curious hands. Maybe a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment is all you really need.

Keeping a kid-filled house clean can be quite a challenge. At the end of the day, children don’t really care how tidy the house is, but rather how much time they got to spend with their beloved parents. So put down that scrub brush and read Junior a book…before he tries to see if it can be flushed down the toilet.



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