May 1, 2014

Finding time for housework

Since I've gone back to work, one of the things that has suffered the most (besides my perpetual state of grumpiness due to insufficient time for everything) is the house.  Laundry, groceries, and cooking secure the highest priorities on the 'to do' list.  Housework waits.  And it shows.

The kids are all supposed to pitch in.  I try to relax about the fact that the jobs they are assigned aren't being done as well as I would like.  The kitchen floor, for example, is getting spot checked as a chore I christened 'sticky spots.'  The child assigned to sticky spots crawls around with a damp rag and scrubs away at the areas that I point at with my big toe.  I typically call out, 'Oh, sticky spot.  Oh, here's another one.  When you are done with that one, there's another one in front of the fridge (that's a given).'  I'm convinced that I am plagued with a sticky kitchen floor because of a remark I made to my best friend's mom while a 7th grader.  She invited me to take off my sneakers in order to be more comfortable when I was hanging out with her daughter, Meg.  "That's OK, I don't like the way my socks stick to the kitchen floor - the shoes work better."  As soon as the words hit the sound waves, I realized what I had said.  I was old enough to know better.  Meg's mom just laughed.  Meg was the oldest of 7.  Funny thing . . . whether I am wearing shoes or socks nowadays it makes no difference.  I hate sticking to my kitchen floor. 

I've been on a mission lately.  It started with closets.  After the long, cold winter, I was anxious to get the sweaters and corduroys out of the kids' closets.  So much had been outgrown, or just plain disliked that eliminating the excess felt like a major accomplishment.  In Reggie and Tetonka's room, the stack of clothes being purged blocked the doorway and tumbled out into the hall.  Since Reggie is the youngest boy, I was able to pitch tons of clothing rather than store it up in a bin for the next sibling.  Tetonka's wardrobe that I was storing away for Reggie contained an insane amount of surplus.  Although most of it is organized in a huge Rubbermaid bin, I did show it to Reggie first.  Without hesitation, he informed me which items he would never wear.  As difficult as this kid is at times, I do appreciate that he knows what he likes.  No pussy footing around.

Laddie and Eddie's room needed the most attention.  I urged them to get it under control several times.  I was assured on more than one occasion from Eddie, that he had worked on his laundry issue.  Laddie is no neat nick, but Eddie maintains his wardrobe by displaying it all over the floor of his room.  After a while he isn't sure what is clean and what is dirty.  The kid is the proud owner of a least 14 hoddies.  No exaggeration.  Friends of ours have twin sons who are older but smaller than Laddie.  Eddie stands to inherit clothes from Laddie in addition to the twin clothes.  I admit it is hard for him to manage because of the sheer volume, but he does have plenty of shelf space to hold his extensive wardrobe.

I stepped in on Easter Sunday.  The boys were begging to be allowed to go to sleep that night because my devotion to the cause was intense and my incredible energy outlasted theirs.  Eddie was the proud owner of an entire closet full of clothes that would now fit Tetonka.  Of course very few of the items were actually in the closet.  By the time I was finished, Eddie's clothes were either on a shelf (all shelves have been previously labeled thus making it even easier to put away clean laundry), or sent to the laundry room, or in a basket for Tetonka, or in a basket to be donated.  There were celebrations over found shorts previously given up for lost.  There were animated conversations between the roomies over which shirts actually belonged to who.   There were even debates over whose fault it was that the room was in such dire straits.  I'm confident that this was a joint effort.  Exhausting!

This weekend I dared to request the impossible.  Vacuuming the house.  This is typically Tetonka's job, but he is often unable to complete the task because the rooms are so cluttered with strewn about clothes, garbage, legos, dolls, and books that a vacuum can't factor into the messy room equation.  Not yet anyway.  I ordered kids to have their rooms vacuum ready.  The girls came the closest.  Tetonka wasn't terribly thorough though, and I soon accepted the fact that if I was choosing this battle, I would have to do the vacuuming myself. . . of die trying.

Tetonka displayed a true inability to clear a path.  Multiple times I entered the room and was unsure what he had attempted.  Eventually I completed the nasty job of hauling out piles of junk from under dressers and inside the cramped closet floor.  Under a wire drawer in the closet I discovered candy wrappers, dirty tissues, legos (all items I inventoried in several other locations in this- the smallest- room in the house), and of course a kitchen butter knife.  Why not? 

Although I just clocked hours in the big boys' room a week before, I was seriously astounded at the amount of kleenex I unearthed on my mission to get their room vacuumed.  Neither of them is even suffering from a cold.  Can't make sense of it.  At any rate, I needed to remove things from the floor in this - the largest - kid bedroom in the house.  Their room is an enormous 15 x 17.  They even have 2 story ceilings.  Huge.  But alas, barely big enough to house their discarded tissues.  I reached under Eddie's bed to pull out a protruding super soaker or missile launcher, not sure which.  Imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon a handset to the land line.  Missing for God knows how long.  I recognize that while this landed under Ed's bed, it was in their room only as a result of Lad kicking it under a bed.  The screen displayed a message that read, 'Please charge for 7 hours.'  Surprised it didn't also say, 'Help me - the smell in here is causing me to leak battery acid.'

In order to vacuum my room I was forced to dig out the area surrounding the desk shoved that is shoved under the window.  This is a desk that Eddie uses to do homework, so that Laddie can study in their room.  It isn't an ideal situation, but it has worked.  Aesthetically is kills my personal space, but from a report card stand point, it works.  As is customary for one of my offspring, the area surrounding the desk is littered with empty juice boxes, papers, broken writing utensils, books, and at least three discarded-while-studying hoodies.  My room is also home to piles of unclaimed laundry.  Our laundry room is upstairs.  I sort whatever laundry I possibly can in the laundry room and stack it in six separate piles on the laundry room counter top.  Other laundry is organized on my bed and placed in piles along the wall in age order.  Kids come in our room and find exactly what they are looking for in their pile.  Rather than scoop up their clothing, they simply tug at the corner of a pair of boxers until the entire stack has toppled over.  Somehow they feel disconnected to the remaining items, and there is no problem in their mind abandoning the rest of it in a mess on my floor.  Adjacent piles collapse under similar circumstances, and when I readjust them someone is inevitably going to end up with someone else's shorts.  There is Hell to pay when this happens.  They must all imagine a laundry fairy who is free of errors folds all of their laundry.  I digress.

Coach and I also have high ceilings in our room.  The little boys got a basketball hoop for Christmas similar to the one the big boys have.  Seeing as how hard it is to move in the hoarder's paradise, Tetonka and Reggie put their hoop on the back of my bedroom door.  They even 'borrowed' the hoop from Laddie and Eddie for a few days.  That didn't fly.  My bedroom now consists of a study corner, a laundry nightmare, and a basketball court (which at times is full court).  The bed must not be out of bounds because after carefully folding towels the little shits rolled around on the bed for awhile and knocked over the towels and whatever else.  I'm sure they thought, oh, don't worry Mommy we'll just play thru, your laundry piles aren't bothering us.

Anyway, after bulldozing through the mess in my own room created by my lovely children I was able to clear a path and vacuum it.  Honestly, I wish I could be home to keep the house cleaner and the dinners prepared before the craziness of after school, but I must admit even when I wasn't working the house was never really all that clean.  Dinners weren't typically prepared by 3:15 either.  I keep saying going back to work has made me feel like I am doing lots of things OK, but not one thing really well.  Given all the time in the world, I still don't think housework would be my rock star moment anyway. 

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