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.