Tuesday, April 3, 2007

How do you do it?

One of the most common questions those of us with more than 2.5 children here is "How do you do it?" I usually answer that I don't and its true. My house is picked up and not unheathy, but I wouldn't call it clean. My kids are good but they all have something to learn about manners. Homeschooling here is awkward this time of year as I decide what I can reasonable finish and cringe at what I know has to what for September.
My favorite blogger, Danielle Bean, is answering this question right now. Not for someone with no kids but for a young mom in the trenches. That really hard stage when the oldest isn't old enough to help, the younger 2 are really both babies but you've been married long enough that your husband hopes you're are starting to get good at this SAHM stuff. The writer's husband at least is asking for her to get some help but like most women she is not comfortable having another person in her house 'helping'
I get that. When we first got married and would clean my husband would start with my things, since I made the most mess, but then I couldn't find anything. My brain works so differently than his I could not figure out where he might have put things. I finally stared to be more diligent when I was pregnant but since I need a CSect I had to let people help me.
Luckily I got used to the idea and set out to make sure my kids learned how to help. They liked feeling competent and helpful. But back then we thought we be a 2 career 2 kid family. Taking the leap of staying home, living simpler (read: more work to save $$$) then braving the world of a larger family.

And how did we do it, say yes to a bigger family? One kid at a time.

In fact it took me 8 months to get use to the impending arrival of some of them. Simply because I became more fully aware of what was being asked of me.

So what advice would I give this woman, or any, who is struggling to keep up the house?
here is what I posted at Danielle's blog:

" My husband is far better at organizing, cleaning etc. He's also better at having fun with the kids. He's patient with me but certainly has been frustrated. I tend to clean things very well- then when it gets dirty again I don't bother with it for a while. Or I do something more productive-- like sewing that has a finished product at the end I can see and feel and keep.

Some things I've done:
Clean only 3 times a day in bursts. Just after Breakfast we clean enough to sweep downstairs. (Then they do school or play upstairs.) Just before lunch we clean up school enough to eat at the table, then after we clean up lunch they play outside. (Then I tuck little ones while big ones do more school) Just before Dad comes home we do a quick pick up of the rooms that matter to him, and set table. This might be the entrance, living room, my room if there if still a pile of laundry there whatever makes coming home to us easier. After dinner if you start tubs and stories quick enough they don't have time to make a mess.

I've said it before: pack up a box of things you hate cleaning. Dust collectors, small toys, anything, either save it or give it away. Its amazing how clean a place looks when there is less stuff. Need an incentive? Pack one box every fasting day, or everytime there is a fire in your community. (If you wouldn't run back in the burning house to save it- you don't need it.)

For Mother's Day ask for something that helps keep the house clean. One year my husband filled the dirt path into the house with a brick path! It was amazing how much less dirt came in the house. Last year we worked on our porch and he covered it in astro turf. again it stops all the dirt from getting in.

Simplify the wardrobes. Jeans and polo's Jumpers with polo's or Tnecks. Put up hooks for the Jeans or Jumpers to hang on to wear again: Its only going to get dirty again!
I know sometimes a batch a day keeps the laundry monster away and allows you to have fewer clothes and dressers and neater closets. ( I can't do that now that mine are old enough to have opinions about the clothes)

A tough one to learn is that it does not have to be cleaned the way you clean to get rid of the dirt. I wash floors with a sponge mop and just enough water to do the job, I don't want to get puddles. My husband had done National Guard that made them SOAK the floor with a rag mop. Drove me crazy. I was sure the cellar would flood, it didn't!

Danielle is really smart, sounds just like my closest sister, and she's right, "Let Go" and I'd add "Let God!""

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