Monday, April 17, 2006

Q & A

A Question Already!!!

Here is an email I received just after posting today...

I have a question.  How do you do it?  You have 4 small kids, and I only have 3 and I feel I can't get anything done during the day unless I turn on the tv for them which I hate.  If I sort clothes, the 16 month old is right behind me unsorting them.  If I try to scrub a toilet, a 2 1/2 yo is swinging the yucky dripping wand around the bathroom.  How do you keep your kids occupied while you clean?  My house isn't a pigsty or anything, but I could do so much better.  Tell me, domestic goddess, how do you do it?

Well, first of all, I am definitely not a domestic goddess!  There are days where my house has gone to the dogs (or to the kids, rather!).  It's simply a matter of maintenance.  You try to keep everything from going below a certain standard.  If you do a really thorough housecleaning once a week, or even less often really, then you have a basis to start from and you simply maintain it by picking up after activites, swiping a cloth over a surface, etc.  It's easier to keep something clean than it is to start from square one.  But for me, the secret is that I have swings installed from the beams in my basement!  The kids are addicted to swinging and they could spend hours doing it.  But ususally they are underfoot and wanting to play.  So, I get them involved.  My 4 year old loves to clean.  She's at the age where it's big fun for her to be able to do the things that Mommy does.  I give her a damp cloth and let her go to town.  If anything, it at least gets the top layer of dust and leaves me with an easier job when I go behind her.  And one of the twins, Aelin, is perpetually putting things away.  She's been like this since birth.  She has to have things in their place or she gets unglued.  So she is great for picking up the clutter as I vacuum.  And Annika, my other twin?  Well, she likes to just run in circles and call it help!  Hey, she's occupied and it's not tearing apart anything I've done!  The baby still takes quite a few naps during the day, so he is usually asleep while I clean.  My secret is to just get them involved.  Or else wait till naptime!  And somedays I do just that.  I will do a speed clean during naptime if I haven't managed to get anything done in a day.  I work up a heck of a sweat, but it gets done somehow!  And I have to admit, there are times when I'm doing a yucky job, such as cleaning toilets, and I break out the Disney videos or a Blues Clues dvd.  I don't think kids need tv every waking moment, but a half hour here or there won't cause a learning disability. 
And if you've been able to create a system for yourself that helps you maintain a certain level of order in the house, then having days where you let things go won't mean the house has descended into condemnation.  That's what we're going to try to work toward here.  And I highly recommend the book "Home Comforts:  The Art & Science of Keeping House" by Cheryl Mendelsson.  I purchased it years ago when it first came out and it has been the one source I couldn't live without in helping me find my systems and my levels of acceptability here in our home.  Because sometimes you just need to say forget the dusting, I want to play with my kids!

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