Beyond Cleaning Up After Yourself

My husband is under the delusion that if one picks up after himself the house will stay clean. He believes this because, when he was a kid there were 4 kids and his mother told them if they cleaned up after themselves the house would stay clean, but which she really meant, “I will be able to come home from work after ten hours, and sweep, mop, dust, wash clothes, iron, clean toilets…, before I fall exhausted into bed.”

He has started this fairy tale with our own kids and finally #1 has begun to believe it. So last night after working (yes, I only work 4 hours a day instead of ten) I took #2 to the orthodontist, and came home to a house that was basically trashed.
Here’s what went down to get us to this lowly point:

Sunday: We went to Church and then #2 went to a friends to do a school project (it is on the couch in the Living Room, been there since Sunday). While she was gone, I cut Hubby, #1’s hair and #3’s hair. #1 did vacuum up the hair, but of course, left it on the counters and in the sink…

I was insistent that everyone be at home Sunday night, so we could decorate the tree. So Hubby went to choir practice and we decorated the tree. It took about an hour and when we were done everyone agreed that that we were tired and we’d pick up the mess (boxes from ornaments, broken ornaments, tissue paper, wrapping paper from new ornaments…) later.

Then #2 wanted her hair cut. I had to do it twice to get it short enough and even still she’s thinking shorter. Then #3 wanted her’s shorter. It took two tries on it to get it short enough for her as well. So at 9:00 at night I have a bathroom covered in hair, which the girls half-heartedly vacuumed, a living room that looked like a tornado hit. And I was exhausted from cutting hair all day. I went to bed.

Monday comes and I go get my dresser way on one side of town, then to the other side of town to the grocery store, then to church to drop off groceries, and then home to rest. Then I ran a few more errands in town that had to be done that day. I straightened the kitchen while I cooked dinner to take to church for a Christmas party. I got home a little before 9 and the house was still the same.

Tuesday came and I had to go to work. After work, I had a doctor’s appointment, and then I came home, rested a little and then straightened house until bedtime. I barely made a dent in the mess.

So Wednesday comes and I am in crunch time, since I am babysitting for a friend Friday night, and I give the kids chores to help me catch up. And #1 balks. “He cleans up after himself, he does his own laundry. He doesn’t see why he should have to clean up after anyone else, he’s almost 18. (Whatever that means.)”

So once upon a time, a woman told her children a fairy tale. Her daughter-in-law has had enough. I told my kids and hubby the house fairy does not exist. If you pick up after yourself the house will stay neat and tidy, it will not stay clean. To get it clean, you have to clean toilets, spray showers, mop floors, wipe of counter tops, vacuum, dust. I am not the house fairy. I am another person living here “who is tired of cleaning up after everyone else, I am 18 and have been for years (whatever that means.)” I expect them to help me with the housework and I expect it to be done with a smile, or I am going to get in my car and go somewhere where the house is always clean and the only mess is mine. They can stay here and wait on the health department to come by.

Yes, ladies, about every 28 days I get in a mood. At that same time, my kids and husband seem to get stupid. Last night those two worlds collided, and the house fairy got killed in the explosion. May she rest in peace.


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