Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Do You Do Too Much?

Part of the reality of being the stay at home half of a parenting partnership is that we are in our "stuff" all day long. My husband works hard, insanely long hours. His job is tough. But being the boss, the housekeeper, the cook, the driver, etc without any one to delegate to is rough! He can at least tell someone to go do something for him. Who am I going to tell? Me, Myself, and I.

Mom Goes On Strike Stops Cleaning For A Week! This article caught my eye today as I have been on a search for how to make my small children responsible for their own messes and personal items. I have chronicled many of my failed attempts here. I feel like I have tried just about everything!

Just last week I went through the house and picked up all the errant items and put them in a plastic bin and took it out to the garage. I now have two plastic bins and my three older children don't seem to notice things are missing yet and their rooms and play space are just as messy as they were three days ago. Back to square one - nothing has changed. I am seriously considering removing everything!

I realize that we have a case of too much. Don't we all?  Be honest. How many toys did you have as a child? And did you have a dedicated room to put it? Maybe that was our first mistake: thinking kids needed to have a space all their own to put their toys and play in. Having space just makes you want to fill it. Today I am wishing the house we rented didn't have an extra room obviously designed for this purpose. (Note to self: unless we can get this solved our next place will not have such a room.)

Granted we had a play space when we moved for residency when my son was only 16 months old. He didn't have much, but since we have added three additional children and extra stuff for all of them. I was so proud of myself for my amazing resourcefulness and garage sale treasures making our meager income do some remarkable things.  Isn't that what I was supposed to be doing? Wasn't part of my job to obtain things for my children to play with that would enrich their playtime experience and keep them occupied while I washed dishes or fed the baby? Maybe I missed the mark.

What I find so infuriating is that we just moved a few months ago and went through a purging cycle. We shouldn't be having this problem. Further, we haven't brought much of anything into the house. That has been our motto from the day we moved in. We are only here a year, we aren't brining anything in that we have to pack up and move again!

What we have is a clear case of children not having respect for their belongs. My children dump their stuff out and leave it. It isn't acceptable. I love this quote from the article "look around people, you are disgusting creatures". You really have to read the rest of it for context.

I can really relate to this woman who went on strike. I don't mind taking care of my family, I actually like it. But, as she puts it, it was the over-time as she cleaned up messes all day that didn't belong to her, that did her in. And like her, I find myself cleaning to make myself feel better, because I do feel better when the house is clean, but I don't really feel better because the entire time I am doing it I am upset that I have to clean up messes that don't belong to me! When I have to clean up their stuff, I can't spend time doing other things I need and want to do. Which in turns makes me a very grumpy mommy. They haven't quite caught on to that concept yet.

I don't think I could actually go on strike unless I made a commitment to leave the house altogether during the day. But I may have to modify my strike plans a little.

At this point I feel it necessary to disclose that my husband cleans up all of his own messes, and several that are not his. If I had to pick up after him as well I might have lost my mind long ago. Thank heavens his contributions have kept me sane this long!

Update: She blogged her strike here! The pictures alone are priceless. And after reading her blog in her own words, I could see myself being her minus the glass of wine. It's a fun read especially if you are tired of cleaning up other peoples messes:-)



  1. Love the article! I don't have kids yet, but I sometimes wish my mom had done this to us so we could have appreciated her more. We seriously stacked up our dishes after every single meal so that she could wash them. Shameful!

  2. I don't have kids yet, but growing up I was an only child for a while and often indoors, so toys was my only "fun". When my brother came along, we also moved to a more kid-friendly neighborhood so my mom would push my brother to play outside often. Because if he was indoors, he was causing a mess, but also to enjoy the outdoors while he "has time for it", you know? I didn't really understand it much then, but I do understand now. Although I honestly feel during the childhood days of your kids, it's really difficult to keep a clean house. No matter what you do, how much you clean/pick up after them, it's a never-ending cycle. I'm glad your husband does his part - my dad and brother still don't and my mom goes absolutely nuts trying to clean their mess. I try to help out whenever I'm at home, but that's not often either.

  3. It is amazing how much chaos can be created in one day, doesn't it? After cutting back my hours at work I let our housecleaner go and I am now in charge of the house for the first time since my 2nd year of residency when I gave up and hired her. It gives me palpitations some days, and I only have one child (and husband...and me...) who adds to the mess. I am trying not to be a perfectionist and worry too much, but I found making a loose schedule does help. Also still having said housecleaner's number still in my phone...just knowing it's there...makes it better!


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