I have noticed that, as my husband and I live out our American Dream with our 2.5 children in our suburban cookie cutter home, I do not have the time to keep said home as clean and organized as I would like it to be. I often cannot find what I need and I really hate that I feel like I am always cleaning something and the place is still a wreck. When I am on the “interwebs” (as the kids call it) I see that there are quite a few articles on this exact subject and I believed myself to be in good company.
I became obsessed with the website known as “Pinterest.” This electronic corkboard of ideas on which a person can waste entire weekend became something on which I began to pin my hopes for a well-run home. I pinned every pin I could pin on my carefully crafted boards that held the promise of a clean and organized home.
And then I started to actually read what the pins were telling me to do.
Remember, these ideas are being touted as groundbreaking and revolutionary. The brain trusts who have orchestrated this advice have orchestrated the phenomenal photo shoots of the room and products which have caught my attention and have made me want to pin this in the first place. I want this room. I want this organized linen closet with well-behaved fitted sheets. I want this clean sink. Suddenly, I want to live in a tree house and an RV… at the same time. I want to have inspirational quotes stenciled on the walls of my tree house and I will create partitions within my RV using pallets that I “reclaimed” from the dumpsters behind Home Depot.
Wait. Didn’t I just want some tips on how to bring order to my already existing, boring, land level, no-wheel-having, sheet rock walled house?
I dive in.
Clicking on a gorgeous shot of a shiny kitchen sink and counter, which promises to end clutter, I read that I should run the dishwasher at night and then unload it the following morning while I “wait for my coffee to perk.”
Other than my mom, who is a double platinum level homemaker, does anyone wait for their dishwasher to stop running at night to unload it that night? Also, when did dirty dishes become “clutter?” Dirty dishes are dirty dishes. They are to be dealt with by the 2.5 children who live with us.
P.S. My husband makes a cup of coffee for me every morning in my Keurig and brings it to me before I can even THINK about getting out of bed. There is no perk before perking let alone doing anything while waiting for coffee to perk.
I click on another gorgeous shot of a shiny kitchen counter, this one has beautiful flowers in a vase and some artfully arranged doo-dads (this is NOT to be confused with clutter) next to a roll of crisp white paper towels. This pin suggests that I keep paper towels “readily available” so that, as spills happen, they are wiped up immediately and not left until they become sticky and/or a stain. Again, not a double platinum level homemaker, however, if I spill something I will usually wipe it up. As a matter of fact, even my husband will sometimes wipe it up.
Who is walking away from a spill on a counter so it can become a sticky mess? Ok. Other than the 2.5 children in my house; who spills something and then actually has the conversation in their head that releases them from all responsibility and allows them to go on with their day without so much as another thought as to the drying, staining, and sticky blob that is becoming one with the counter?
This is not to say that I have never walked away from a mess. I have walked away from many a mess. I have walked away from a mess when I had already cleaned up the same mess four times in the same afternoon. I have walked away from a mess when I had already very carefully explained to one or all of our 2.5 children exactly how it needed to be handled.
Ialmost always walk away from any mess in the garage.
I have walked away from a mess when I was too sick to deal with it. I have slumped away from a mess when my joints ached and my mystery illness that the doctors don’t know how to handle has beaten me down. I have glared at that mess while it chuckled back at me. I make the effort to clean the toilets. Call me old fashioned, but I believe that the bathroom my kids use should be a little cleaner than the gas station at the corner.
I don’t need a pin of another chore chart, either. The 2.5 kids do chores. That’s the chart. Maybe it isn’t fair but that is a great primer for the Real World. I have yet to find a responsibility chart anywhere that I have worked where everything is doled out evenly. Gold stars aren’t handed out, either. I know because I have asked.
When something needs to be done I look around and grab a kid. If a kid isn’t within arm’s reach, I start calling out names. In the beginning my husband and I tried to be “fair” and keep to a “schedule” but that became tedious and ridiculous in a hurry, especially when you are nurturing little teamsters.
Sample Conversation during the time period known as Being Fair:
Me: It is your turn to do dishes and your brother needs to sweep the floor.
J: Did I not do the dishes this morning?
A: When you say, “sweep the floor,” do you mean the kitchen floor as well? When I did dishes last week you made me sweep the floor in the kitchen and said that was part of cleaning the kitchen. I should not have to sweep the kitchen.
J: I am not doing the dishes since I did them this morning. You can have fun sweeping the floor in the kitchen after you do those dishes.
Me: Hello? Am I not the parent? When did I lose control of this situation?
When did we lose control? We lost control when it appeared to the children that this was open for negotiations when really all we had done was attempt to make the situation appear “fair” and outline the expected outcome.
Sample Conversation during the time period known as Now:
Me: You there. Did you eat a meal just now?
One of the 2.5: Yes.
Me: Excellent, clean up the kitchen.
Me: Other one over there. Have you been walking all over these floors?
Another one of the 2.5: Yes.
Me: Fantastic, here is a broom.
Why do I keep looking at Pinterest? I love it. I collect decorating ideas. I collect humorous pictures and inspirational quotes. I collect all of the wondrous and amazing things that baking soda and vinegar are reported to do. I even still collect ideas for organizing and cleaning my cookie cutter suburban home.
You never know when you could just stumble on the perfect pin.