Work it, Girls

chores

Comments.  I’ve been hearing little comments lately that have put my hands into a clenched fist position.  A few weeks ago, after finding–among many other things–an entire orange peel in the far back seat cup holder of my minivan that had clearly been sitting there IN PLAIN VIEW for about ten days, Mike and I organized a “family car cleaning day.”  Holy MOLY did my car need it.  It was so bad in there I brought out the regular house vacuum to get the back of the car.

My son’s comment that day?  “Why can’t we just take it to the car wash?”  “Because, my–ahem–sweet angel, we made this mess.  It’s our mess, and we’re going to clean it up!”

I’ve had a housekeeper, we’ll call her “Saint Mari” for several years now.  When the kids were little and I, as they say, had my hands full, I employed her at least twice a month.  Here in Southern California this is affordable and even though it’s not the way I was raised, it’s dang hard to pass it up.  I used to weep with actual tears of joy when she would show up to my house back in the day.  I would count down the days until she would take my crumby floors, sticky counters and dusty shelves back to a state of relative humanity.

Nowadays, the kids are older, I’m only working a few hours a week… I admit that I do hire this fabulous helper every other month or so.  (What she can do in 5 hours would take me two days and frankly it’s just not worth it!!!)  So what’s the problem?  I’ll tell you what the problem is: The problem is when my fourth grader looks across her sea of messy room that I’ve just told her must disappear before she leaves to play and says to me “Why can’t we just call Mari?”

Because, my–ahem–sweet angel, you made this mess.  It’s your mess and you’re going to clean it up!”

My kids have a few chores around the house, but it’s really hitting me like a ton of bricks that they could, ahem, use a little more.

Like the other day on the way to school, after a wonderful spring break, and yes, it is hard to go back to school.  But honey when you come at me with “Why can’t we just stay home and relax all day like you do, mama…?”  Well, AHEM, let’s just say you better not come at me with that.

Because MY SWEET ANGELS we all made this mess and I don’t feel like chipping away at it all day to be met with a blank stare of utter lack of appreciation when you return home from school!!!!!!!!

Do my kids weep for joy when they come home to a house free of crumbed floors and sticky counters thanks to moi?  Um… no.

They’re kids.  Yes.  Did I really appreciate everything my parents did for me until I had kids of my own?  Nope.  But my grandmother would roll over in her grave if she heard my kids (gulp, she probably did!) say things like this.  So, after school that day we all rolled up our sleeves and got our job done.

I made a list of choices which included cleaning toilets, scrubbing tubs, sweeping, vacuuming, dusting, folding laundry… Yes.  All the good stuff.

“Pick one job you’d like to do and then one that isn’t your favorite.”  These were my directions.

“But what if none of these are something I’d like to do?” Asked Grayson (age 6.)

“Then pick two jobs that aren’t your favorite (my sweet angel.)”

I heard a new set of comments while we scrubbed, washed, toiled and de-grimed.  Comments like “This is hard!” and “Is this good enough?” (answer: no.)   I corrected hands that, rather than grasping the scrub brush properly were gingerly holding it with two fingers in an effort to not get messy.  Puh-lease.  Kiddos: we  is gonna’ step up our game!  There’ll be no half-wayin’ it today!

I mean really, this aggravation is my fault.  Kids aren’t born saying please and thank you.  They’re not born responsible, and they obviously won’t learn to appreciate the work that it takes to keep our house from becoming a filthy disaster if they don’t ever participate in the joys and sorrows of keeping it up.

Was our afernoon fun?  For them?  Not at all.  For me?  You betcha’. 

FYI: My personal fave cleaning product:

cleaner Sprinkle baking soda and spray with white vinegar.  Cleans great, anti bacterial, good for the environment and not harmful to us.

“The bathtub smells like a salad!”  That’s the vinegar, my sweet angels.  Now keep at it and hold that scrubber properly so you don’t have to do it twice.  You’re only half way there…

p.s. My girls shrieked when they heard me take this photo.  “You’re not going to put this on your blog are you!!??” 🙂