Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Maintaining a clean house - Attempt #4,138.

Yesterday was a non-Kindergarten day, so I had all three boys at home. It was not a particularly good day. There were many, many battles fought, and those battles were painful and loud. And I don't even mean battles between the boys. There were some of those too, as there always are. But I'm talking about the kind I have to fight, particularly with one of my boys. More about that in another post.

The reason I mentioned battles is because cleaning is often a battle around here. It has been for some time now. Boys don't like to clean up. At least, mine don't. Cody is getting better at it. Jamie...well, no. And Micah? Micah is 2 1/2. He loves to help, so if cleaning is the effort that is underway, he will gladly pitch in. Usually. Except when he simply doesn't want to. Then he employs that magical word that two-year-olds everywhere adore. "No." Such a simple word, but with such power.

Well, this mommy gets very tired of toys all over the place. I say that out loud many times a day, every day, and I'm sure they either tune me out or do an inward eye roll. But yesterday I had had enough. I enforced a mandatory clean-up time. In truth, it wasn't that bad upstairs. Well, it was, but I have seen much worse. I knew the effort would not take me more than ten minutes, but it was the principle. Shockingly, nobody was willing to help me out. So I used the threat that puts fear into children and toys everywhere. The vacuum was coming out, and whatever was left on the floor would be shown no mercy.

It worked. For a while. But then the fear wore off. Maybe I should have chased them around with the vacuum running. I don't know. All I know is the clean-up fizzled out after only a few minutes, and next thing I knew, I was standing alone in the living room and all three boys were downstairs. Okay, I can deal with that. Time for the next threat level. I started picking up books and toys, and I loudly announced them as I did. Those were the toys (and roller skates, and hockey equipment...etc.) that they would not be getting back. Panic ensued. Cody charged up the stairs and then things got ugly. He cleaned. He cleaned in a frenzy, and left not one item on the floor in the living room or hall, and I told him his room was next. Of course, he did it in a bit of a rage, and he was mighty ticked off that he was not getting those other items back, but they are up in my closet anyway.

In the end, I had clear floors and I vacuumed happily. I was even able to do my own room, after moving a few stray items out of the way...including more of the boys' toys. Yes, they are in every room. In my success, I had a brilliant idea. Okay, so maybe it wasn't brilliant, but it has the potential to be. We have a bit of a cycle in this house. Mess and clutter builds up over the span of weeks and then mommy loses it and enforces a clean-up much like yesterday. (Sometimes this happens after only a few days.) The vacuum threat is effective every time, and when they do not comply, they lose toys. But I just want it to be clean ALL the time. I know that is not realistic with kids...especially these ones, but yesterday I decided I want my floor back. They have their toys downstairs now. They don't need them all over the place up here. So in the afternoon I told them my plan. From now on, I will be vacuuming every day. The living room, the hallway, and the bedrooms. If their stuff is on the floor, it's gone. Period. Cody, of course, immediately threw a fit. That's not fair, and so on. But I told him, it's very simple. All he has to do is keep his stuff off the floor every day! And he picked up his room in a hurry.

That is my plan. I have had many plans on how to keep this place clean, but I hope this one will somehow make it hit home. Then I can be happy having a clear floor, and maybe, just maybe, it will teach my boys to habitually keep their room clean and keep their stuff off the floor. I have not vacuumed yet today, but it's only 8:30 a.m., so I'm okay with that. I will have to post back in a week to update on how my plan is going. Who knew being a housewife was this complicated?? I'm off to clean the kitchen.

1 comment:

ChristyK said...

If it makes you feel any better... my kids are still learning this one. We've employed multiple strategies/organizers and still have to tweak things when toys change and they grow up etc. Lego is our worst culprit to be spread all over my living room and 'forgotten' to put away before bed!

Go on the cleaning tears when you need to but I'm also learning to look at it as my kids are having fun and being creative too! LOL