23 January 2009
Chores & Children part 1: A look in the mirror
*This is the first in a series on involving children in our housekeeping. I am teaching a class Feb. 18th and want to test drive my ideas here first.*
Those of you who know me in real life, know that my home isn't a model of perfection. I don't pretend that it is always tidy, uncluttered and clean. Quite the contrary! My house is overflowing with evidence that nine imperfect people LIVE here. We are nowhere near perfected, but we press on. What we do have are some habits that help us keep chaos and filth at bay.
We don't watch much TV, but I have seen those commercials with a person sitting or standing on a large red dot saying something along the lines of "You know that place where a house full of children meets I still have to keep things clean? Yeah. I'm there. I'm so there."
Let's look at some of the attitudes that hang out "there". This field guide to the modern housewife uses just a wee bit of exaggeration to make the illustration clearer. So read with a twinkle in your eye...
The Worker: this mom does most of the work around the house, and is more than a little frustrated that everyone takes her hard work for granted. A variation is the mom who assigns chores to her children only to redo them as soon as the kids are out of the room.
The Delegator: this mom gives plenty of orders and then scratches "housework" of her list with a happy sigh. Later, perhaps when her husband comes home or a neighbor pops in, she sees the mess and sighs sadly. It can't possibly be her fault that the house looks like this; she told the children to do their chores.
The Hostess: this mom becomes singularly focused and cracks her whip when company is coming. She might pull off an amazing stash-n-dash or get things in true apple pie order- finishing just as the guests ring the doorbell. Although she greets them with a smile, it's best not to ask her family about the frantic, harsh atmosphere leading up to the guests arrival.
The Decorator: this mom bemoans her outdated carpet or furniture or her inadequate storage, certain that a large remodeling budget would solve everything. She is completely oblivious to the fact that even pea-green shag looks better after vacuuming.
The Planner: this mom just knows that with a better system, another book, another storage tote- all her housecleaning and organization struggles will be solved. She is endlessly optimistic about each new system but her family is becoming jaded.
I don't know about you, but I have been each of these women at one point or another. You can probably relate to at least one. Leave a comment and let me know which mom, if any, you are. If you don't fit under one of these titles, feel free to coin a new phrase! No one is as shallow as these descriptions suggest, but acknowledging your tendencies will help you know which habits need your priority attention.
Keep an eye out for Part 2: A new attitude.