Do you see that? Those dirty fingerprints on the door frame?
They're everywhere. And they drive me batty.
And the windows. I don't expect them to be spotless. But this? It's ridiculous.
They love to "write" on the windows when it is covered with morning dew, or the steam from when I boil pasta. All well and good, but look at what gets left behind.
Like I said, ridiculous.
But here is the question: which is more ridiculous? Telling them to stop writing on the windows because I just cleaned them, or letting them have fun and cleaning it up afterward?
I want to know. Because these are the kinds of questions that bring me grief.
You see, when it comes to cleaning house, I am a little bit neurotic.
I love dusted baseboards. Walls free of hand prints and smudges. Cabinets wiped clean. Bathroom sinks with no water spots. Organized closets. Everything put away in its place.
I love having a clean house.
Here is the confession part. People ask me all the time, "don't you ever worry about home schooling? That it's all on your shoulders? It's up to you to teach these kids? Doesn't that scare you sometimes?"
I always answer truthfully that no, it actually doesn't worry me at all.
However, what I have never had the guts to say is, "what worries me actually, is that I will never have a clean house again."
I've never said it because, not only does it make me sound like the most shallow person on the planet, but also, a little bit insane.
"I'm not worried about teaching my kids fractions and how to read, BUT will I have a chance to dust those baseboards?"
I sound like I am joking, but I assure you I am not. It really is one of the very hardest parts about home schooling my kids. I don't like to sit down at the table for school when the kitchen is still a mess, or there are loads of dirty laundry to do, a bathroom in need of cleaning or baseboards in need of dusting.
I like everything to be in order before we start something new.
Well, that just isn't possible.
That is not easy for me to accept. In fact, I struggle with accepting it every day. I can't get it all done--at least not all at the same time. There are too many people walking around with their hands on the walls for me to stay on top of it.
And so I am learning. I don't want every other sentence that comes out of my mouth to be, "take your hands off the walls." I remind them. But I also have them wash walls. It still doesn't seem to sink in. They get to dust the baseboards for a quarter. They love to wash windows. They know where all their toys go and can put them away neatly.
But the house is still often a mess. And sometimes I just hate it. I know I am supposed to be teaching them to clean along with me. I do. But nothing ever stays clean. And that is so frustrating.
A clean house makes me feel happy, calm and restful. A dirty house makes me feel nervous, anxious and unhappy. If I let it, this could easily consume me. That is really what it all comes down to. I have a choice and every day I have to choose what matters most.
Today I chose to leave the laundry Lilly made a bed with on the floor while the boys and I finished Black Beauty. The dishes got crusty while we read more books and taught Lilly her colors and reviewed letter sounds. (1 room school house baby!) When Lilly went down for a nap, I didn't say, "Now go play by yourselves. I've got to clean house." Instead, we went outside and worked on the painting project for the boys' room. It was a great day.
I'd like for the chores to be all done before we begin those things. Some are. Some aren't. It is a balance that I have not mastered yet and I don't expect to anytime soon. But I will keep trying. I will keep wiping off those dirty hand prints and dusting those baseboards. And I will pray, every day, that I won't let my neurotic tendencies run our house.
I will remember what really matters.
I'm curious. Am I alone on this one? How do you deal with keeping a clean house and having kids and/or a job and still having a chance to lie on the couch and read a magazine or watch a movie? How do you balance it all? And tips or advice, or just a shout out of solidarity would be much appreciated.
And now, to finish the dinner dishes. Because I really hate waking up to a dirty kitchen.