I try not to be too harsh with my kids about cleaning. I really do try, even though I don’t like dirt or clutter, or dust or disorder… Well, you get the picture. This comes from living in a home growing up where things were consistently dirty, unclean and always, always cluttered. When it comes to things being clean, I sort of become neurotic; I think things like, “Oh my god, if someone saw how mess my house is, they’d take my kids away”, which is of course, overly dramatic and totally untrue. I apologize when people come over and the house wasn’t perfectly clean; I usually get laughed at, or have eyes rolled in my direction.
When you have kids, things get messy. Stuff gets ruined, and walls occasionally get written on (even if I’ve told a certain child that drawing happens on paper only, and not on her $30 ballet tights most of all). However, the rule in our house is this: Saturday and Sunday are free for all for technology, but before all the plans on Minecraft can be executed, respective rooms need to be cleaned. Properly. Since my son’s allergy diagnosis, this is absolutely a must. We change the sheets, vacuum the floor, mop and dust. I’ve tried to explain to both the kids if they spend 15 minutes a day just tidying, that by Saturday, it’ll be quick and easy. This has been the rule since we went No Technology during the week, so the kids know.
They know, but they pretend they don’t. A lot.
If you thought my kids were perfect and follow this rule every week with no reminders, nagging, or bribing, I’m here to smash your dreams. Ideally, my kids would develop a taste for all things clean and germ free, like I have. But they are kids (and much like their father, they don’t see messes like I do). They like dirt. They like messes and seem to thrive in them to a certain degree. They like to keep things that I might qualify as garbage, because it means something to them. Apparently, it’s good for kids to have messy rooms, and I even commented on this in an article for Today’s Parent last year. Confession: I laughed at the journalist when she suggested I just close the door and forget it. I may have also twitched. Maybe.
After a bout of busy weekends (read: I wasn’t home, Dad was, and all the Minecraft was played or someone was sick), the rooms respectively have gotten out of control. My son started complaining he had “too many toys” which is a sure sign the organization in his room has gone to hell, and he’s overwhelmed. When I said I’d help him clean the room, as long as we did it thoroughly, he looked overjoyed. A kid who wants to clean their room? Do it right now. Drop everything, and clean all the things.
As we went, I started to ask him about some of the things we were finding:
(Disclaimer: I swear, out of this whole list, there was only one small bag of garbage. I promise. Also, I dust with vinegar water. Which obviously means nothing, but you should know. Don’t judge me. Please?)
– Eleventy billion cheerios that was “food” for the Angry Birds, apparently.
– A broken butterfly catcher that has now been re-purposed as a wand and is not garbage. I tried to argue, but there may have been sad eyes, and an almost panic attack. We’ll keep the wand, for now.
– Six store clothes hangers that I’m pretty sure I had thrown out, but were recovered because they work well as “swords, light sabres, and Captain Hook’s hook”.
– Three bottle of my lotions that he needed because they smell like me, and he likes that. Be still my heart.
– 11 pens, which I was told a week ago did not exist in the bedroom and when I triumphantly pointed out that I had been right all along, my son said, “I didn’t see them, so they weren’t there, I guess.”
– One package of yogurt covered raisins. For a late night snack, he said.
– Two lost books that weren’t really lost at all but hidden under the bed. I was just grateful they weren’t library books. Because they have been in the past.
– My car insurance slips (!?)
– Thousands of lego pieces, because lego is fun, and awesome, but everywhere.
– A book order form from September, circled and marked, but never turned into the keeper of the money (that’s me).
– Three hair ties, and at least 20 bobby pins (They apparently keep all his papers together. Note: Get paperclips.)
– Two rolls of paper towels. Specifically the two I’ve been looking for the last week, but was being used as blankets in the games him and his sister play. I’m so sorry, Mother Earth.
-Two pieces from my husband’s Risk game, which caused me to whispered, “You better find a way to put these away in the game without Daddy noticing.” He nodded in affirmative, knowing how Daddy feels about his Risk collection.
– A lot of dust. A LOT.
– Way too many Kid’s Meals toys. I don’t want to admit how many lest you judge me for feeding my children fast food (Yes, it happens. I do it. I’ll await my letter to kick me out of the Good Parent Club shortly). I tried to throw them out. At first, I was brazen and bold with my throwing out, but that didn’t go well. So I started throwing out pieces covertly. Until I got caught again, and was further watched like the toy criminal I am.
– A deflated basketball, and a deflated water toy. I do not remember either thing every being bought, or given to my children. And, we had to keep them. Because.
– An empty wine bottle that was used as a tower. “You should drink more wine so we can have more towers.” Okay, dear child, that’s a challenge I’ll gladly except.
– A ice cube tray. Which was obviously a bus for the tiny dinosaurs. Duh.
The room is cleaned. The sheets are changed. Minecraft is being played. I’m planning all the wine I can buy so they can build more towers.
But now I have to do my daughter’s room too. Pray for me?