First of all, I just want to thank my mother for teaching me HOW to clean a house. I admit, when I do clean the house, deep down nitty gritty kind of clean, I can do it right.
Growing up, there was a joke about cleaning for mom (might have been my own mom's joke about cleaning for her mom? or her mother-in-law? I don't remember), and I'll tell you that it's kind of true. I know that she raised me right, so when I know she's coming, I like for my house to reflect that. On the other hand, when it's someone else coming over, they might not get the full sparkle effect. AND when my sister shows up for a planned visit and brings my mother as a surprise (yes, that was four years ago now, and I still haven't forgotten that sheer terror at the realization), well, you can imagine.
So, I'm here, and I've been tasked to raise the two children I have now. And it's getting to the point where these two sweet-faced, sometimes-sassy tots need to know how to keep a house. I'm realizing that this has to start young, otherwise it's an uphill battle. I know that I have slacked off, both in my own housekeeping and in teaching my children standards, but now I know that now is the time, and it's about to be too late.
Heretofore, we have only made a big event of cleaning/straightening/tidying our house when people are coming over. This usually occurred on Wednesday nights before small group at our house. This has led to confusion by the 4-year-old when we try to make it happen at other times.
Elsie: "Why are we cleaning up? Are our friends coming over?"
I knew there was a problem brewing when my friend Meredith had the kids stay over at her house one Friday night while I was at cheer camp and Eli was at drill. The report was that when Elsie was asked to help pick up toys before bedtime so that they could make room on the floor of W's room for E & O's sleeping bags, Elsie's reply was, "My mother doesn't make us clean up our toys before we go to bed." And that got me to thinking that she was right, but she should have been wrong,
I had a Pampered Chef party at my house a week and a half ago. It made me have to clean up the kitchen, dining and living areas. Essentially all of downstairs. I have been very good in the last week and a half about returning things to that level of clean. And I've even mopped twice. You have no idea what a feat that is, since I HATE sweeping and mopping with a passion. Just to give you an idea, it took me almost ten years of marriage to use up one medium-sized container of PineSol. Yeah. I know. Just seems like every time I mop, someone seems to spill something, have a potty accident, throw up, etc. The rest of the time that doesn't happen (or at least I've convinced myself of this).
So, one night this week, I tell Elsie and Oscar that they need to pick up their toys downstairs before they go to bed.
Elsie (screaming at me): "WE DON'T PICK UP OUR TOYS HERE! WE ONLY PICK THEM UP AT MISS KAY'S HOUSE! WE DON'T DO THAT HERE!!!!"
And I tell her that we are going to start doing that, and she starts to bargain. "Just downstairs. Not upstairs. Right?" For now, I told her. Then, on Monday of this week, they cleaned up their room and put their toys away in the correct places, and now they have to clean up upstairs, too. This morning, I taught Elsie how to make her bed. Tomorrow, who knows?
I have been itching to start a commission program with them (a la Financial Peace Jr. or Fisher-Kids), where they work for money to spend/save/give, but the big realization for me is that I have to set the example before I can expect them to do what I want them to do to the level I want them to do it (age appropriate, of course). So...
I spent the afternoon deep-cleaning my bathroom for the first time since the summer of 2011, when Eli came home from Virginia (to be clear, it has been cleaned, but not DEEP cleaned). Again, this particular project was spurned on by Elsie's commentary. She wanted to use our toilet. No, I told her. Our toilet is dirty--use your toilet. "Only adults use dirty toilets?" Sigh. That moved to the top of my list.
Anyway, I'll let you know how the rest goes. The upstairs is a year-long project of its own...