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“Dear Cleaning Fairy: You Missed My House Again...”

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As a stay-at-home Mom, I am faced with constant struggles of how to best manage my “free time.”

My “free time” is defined as the time when I am not making meals or snacks. Not driving kids to school, practices, games or play dates. Not getting kids or myself dressed (if I am lucky showered), ready, and packed for any of these things. My “free time” is limited.

So when given the choice of playing with my children or cleaning my house, the kids usually win. I am like any other parent, I limit the time that my children watch tv and I strive to spend as much time interacting with them and teaching them as I can. Still, as crumbs stick to my bare feet in the kitchen and I nearly twist my ankle by attempting to walk through our toy room, I wonder why I am failing at my job of keeping our home clean.

A play date at my house puts me in a panic. Usually the day before (because any sooner would be completely pointless), I scramble to pick up the toys that are scattered throughout every room in my house. I gather the clutter from my kitchen table that consists of daily school work, junk mail and who knows what else. I rush to put away the laundry that I have managed to wash, dry and fold days ago but never moved it from the basket. As I focus on one room, I have little people that are destroying another. I am now a hamster, running in circles and never getting anywhere.

I used to be organized. I used to have a clean house. I remind myself this was when we were a family of two and both working outside the home. There was no one here during the day to mess it up.

Without fail, every time I wash my tile floors, something is spilled that very same day. By now, I am used to it and expect it to happen. I no longer have to hold back the tears as the sticky juice splashes to the floor. I don’t clench my teeth and hold my breath as my eyes bulge with anger when I turn to see scattered crumbs piling up under an occupied kitchen chair. My fingers may still be burning from the hot disinfecting water and my kneecaps still red from kneeling on the hard tile but I manage to offer a smile as a sweet voice says, “Opps! Sorry, Mom.” That’s okay.

I learned, especially with a newborn, to keep Lysol and Windex wipes handy. I keep a broom tucked away in the kitchen and try to sweep each night before I go to bed. And the Swifter Mop is a miracle invention for handling fast clean-ups within limited time.

I can remember my three year old, standing in the doorway of the bathroom and laughing hysterically as he pointed and asked me, “Mom, what is THAT?” My answer, “It’s a toilet brush. I am cleaning the bathroom.” He crinkled his nose and asked, “Why are you doing THAT?” Okay, in three years he has never seen me clean the bathroom. Nice. I guess in his eyes, the fairy always came after all.

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That was too funny and I can totally relate! :) I aim to have one tidy and clean room in the house. It's the main lounge room that people walk into as they enter through the front door. Then the first impression is tidy and clean for any visitors. Once they walk into the rest of the house then they see the true picture. :)

Your post brought back memories of when my kids started crawling. I remember how filthy the knees on their pants would get from crawling on the floor. I tried to be a bit more diligent in cleaning during that phase. Fortunately they both learned to walk pretty sooon after they learned to crawl. :)

November 6, 2009 - 1:58pm


What a wonderful post. You made me laugh all along the way, though I doubt that was your purpose.

I grew up in a messy house. Not dirty, but messy. There were three of us kids as well. We were spread across 10 years, so our debris was interesting: preschool toys, tween clothes and high school schoolwork. We had pets, so dog or cat fur came along with the territory. We were all bookworms, so newspapers and books were scattered throughout the house. There was usually music playing (even when the television was on). The doorbell could send everything into a tizzy. At dinnertime, first the table had to be cleared off, which was often the hardest part of the prep.

But we grew up with all the most important things: play, love, laughter. We knew we were unconditionally loved. In fact, we were pretty sure that we fascinated our parents, LOL. We felt like we were the center of the universe. Our home never looked like Better Homes & Gardens, but we were happy.

When the kids are grown, the house will be clean again. Don't rush it. You ARE doing your job right now, the one that is important and fleeting. I love the way you describe playing with your children; and I truly doubt that the floor or the toilet will ever thank you for being such a good mom.

November 6, 2009 - 8:47am
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