While away last weekend my friends mentioned that they know some stay at home Mom's that never get around to cleaning their house, or cooking dinner. Why? It's because they devote all of their time to entertaining their kids. They agreed that this was an atrocity, that kids should see the work that goes into keeping a house in order. "Kids today don't understand a good work ethic from an early age since it's all just play, play, play". I was silently thinking during the discussion...
They were talking about me- I guess giving me some needed advice in a sweet way. Clearly (mainly to me), I spend a lot of time picking up after myself, the kids, and my husband too. But, really, do I ever get around to the cleaning part of my job? (Is it really my job?) It is so much easier to take the kids out of the house every day, whether it's to the zoo, museum, park, grocery store- "anywhere but home was the motto". Until today.
Monday is cleaning day. Sorry kids, I will read a story or two, assemble a quick lunch, but you must find the entertainment on your own. I still love you, but Mommy wants a clean house one day of the week.
Tuesday is still cleaning day (oh yes, it takes more than one day to clean a house that has been neglected for a few months). In the future we will take a quick break to go to story time at the library, so we don't get too stir crazy, but we must hurry back for a return of the clean freak. (colds prevented story time today)
Wednesday, relax in the clean house for a few moments- not too long or it will soon look messy like usual. Go grocery shopping.
Thursday- schedule a play date
Friday- Flexible play date or other fun activity
So this will be what's in store for the week. It's a scheduled life, which I swore we wouldn't lead, but maybe this will help with getting the house clean- who knows.
Now, wait a minute! I think I was in on that conversation. And that wasn't what I meant at all. My impression was that the mom in question was scheduling her little tykes' lives full of "activities" -- Gymboree, Music Class, Tumbling Class, Swimming Class, Art Class, and finding herself driving from one place to the next, with no time left to devote to the "household." Now, first off, I should apologize for passing any judgment on this poor woman who I do not even know. The description of her painted a picture in my mind that I have questioned. And that is of the mom who spends money, energy and time driving children hither and yon, then bringing them home to eat crackers for dinner in a messy house. Wendell Berry has written about the sad disconnect between children and our work -- that children used to be very much a part of daily work, and could even become engaged in it in a form of play. I can appreciate what Wendell wrote, and I also think that our days with our children can be simpler than a race in the car from one activity to the next. It's funny -- I wasn't even thinking about your lifestyle when we had that conversation (though I did notice, and wonder about the fact, that you didn't weigh in -- not like you!) I believe that children just enjoy time with grownups - a walk to the park, playing in the yard, going to get groceries, etc. If that leaves time for cleaning, that's great. At the same time, how can anyone with little kids expect to have a clean house? Am I talking myself in a circle? Maybe the bottom line is that we shouldn't have expectations of others, or make judgments about their choices (but what if that husband of the woman in question just wanted a clear path from the front door to the dining room and a little something available to eat at the end of his work day? Is that unreasonable?). Imagine if we lived all our days with three other families in the Highlands Sanctuary Beechcliffe Lodge. Do you think the lodge would stay clean, and what would our meals be like? I don't know the answer. krm
I know, I know, I knew I would get a comment out of anyone who was part of the conversation-entertaining our kids over everything else in our lives. The truth was, the conversation helped me to feel good about staying home and cleaning the house. For the months I've been home, every hour I spend in our house I feel guilty. I feel like I'm not doing my job if I'm not entertaining my kids. The conversation actually liberated me, allowing me to feel good about getting things done around the house. So thanks- and truth be told, I didn't really think you were talking about me, but it made me stop and think about the choices I've been making.
That's really interesting. I've got a theory that one of the toughest parts about staying home with kids is decision-making. When you go to work, there is a basic structure laid out for you. When you stay home, that structure could be just about anything, or you could be structureless. And perhaps that's why some moms choose to fill the days with "appointments." It's one less thing to decide about when you're already scheduled for something. I'm glad that you like the direction in which the conversation nudged you. krm
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