Not in my house

I’m going to preface this by saying I am not a parenting expert. Just a mom with a job and not a lot of time, so while I realize I’m a bit anal, I think it works to my advantage in terms of keeping my house relatively unscathed from the tornado of young children.

I’ve mentioned projects I’ve done around the house, to brighten it up and make it a little less generic. During that process, I bought a white couch, painted my dining room table white and re-covered my dining chairs a light color. I had new carpet installed upstairs. My friends thought I was nuts. All the white, in a place where little people who regularly have grimy hands eat and play and run around? And why would I buy new carpet now, when my kids have a few more years before they (hopefully) become less messy? 

I was unwilling to decorate my house in kid-proof colors and fabrics, and I knew I was taking a chance. That’s why I bought an IKEA couch, at a quarter of the price of the Pottery Barn one I really wanted. And chose the sale carpet, rather than the sample I loved that cost twice as much. I didn’t make these decisions without a plan. Kids don’t always listen to everything their parents say, but they learn quickly. If kids are taught early how to treat furniture or other household items, they won’t know any differently and you’ll do a lot less cleaning.

For us that meant a few hard and fast rules for the kids: don’t jump on furniture, eat or drink on the couch/carpet or touch the decorative items on our dining room shelving unit. I had to remind them about 1,000 times, but now just a look works and they stop. Well, Clay stops and Avery has an evil smile and continues for a minute, then stops.

Clay will sometimes complain that other moms let their kids play on furniture or eat wherever they want. I tell him that every family is different and that’s okay, but it’s not going to happen in my house.  I think he gets it, since he told my mother-in-law one night that she wasn’t allowed to drink her wine on the couch. I reminded him to respect his elders and let her keep the wine. She drinks white, thankfully.

The White Couch!

Dining table

Dining table and shelving unit

Laundry is fun!

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The kids wanted to help wash their blankets. I went to work out and Avery came with me. While we were gone, Clay put the laundry into the dryer and turned it on, without any help (Chase was in the bathroom). He asked this morning if we get to do more laundry today. If I can teach him to fold and put away the clothes, he will be my favorite child.

Bathing Barbie

I came home from my Dailey Method class to find Barbie in the sink. Since she’s wearing a bikini, I assumed Avery wanted her to go swimming. Turns out Avery spilled apple juice on her, so Barbie was getting a bath because “she was dirty.” I was thinking Clay was my only neat freak child, but maybe I’ll get lucky and Avery will follow in my footsteps, too. Now we just need to work on Chase…

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House cleaner day is like Christmas

Today is my favorite day, it’s house cleaner day! Similar to Christmas, but the gift is a clean home. Like the living room on Christmas morning, it’s a mess again before you know it, but it’s great while it lasts!

Years ago, when her personal training business was first becoming successful, my friend Sara shared an anecdote from one of her very successful female clients: once you make a certain amount of money, you should never clean your own home. She told me to divide my salary and figure out my hourly pay rate. If it takes me four hours to clean my house and I can get someone to do it for less than I would pay myself, then I should hire someone immediately. At the time I lived in a small apartment, with only a cat, though Chase stayed over sometimes. Despite the fact I could pay someone less than my hourly rate to clean for me, I couldn’t justify the expense, and, well, I didn’t mind cleaning.

Fast forward about seven years. The cat went to live with my mom (sorry, Nemo, but she loves you and you weren’t a fan of the kiddos). Now I have two kids and a husband, and I value my time and money differently. I have two full days at home with my family. I don’t want to spend half a day scrubbing toilets or dusting blinds. So, in came the house cleaner. I got a recommendation from a close friend (who has three kids and a dog) and she started the following week.

Some people are fortunate enough to have their house cleaner come every week. If I won the lottery that would be the first thing I’d do. Before college funds or paying off our mortgage, I would set up her weekly visits. But my budget only allows for her to come every three weeks.  I have to pick up and do basic cleaning in between her visits, but she takes care of the time-consuming deep cleaning. My kids are getting pretty good (knock on wood) at putting away their toys. I will admit that I am one of those crazy moms who picks up before the cleaning lady comes, but only because she’ll put items in strange places, and panic can ensue if a certain sheep or sea turtle stuffed animal goes missing and isn’t found by bedtime. Or she puts Chase’s beer mugs in with our regular glasses, and he has to drink Coors Light in a plastic kids’ cup because he can’t find a proper glass!

I know I’m a neat freak, so my excitement upon returning home on cleaning day is probably a bit much. I make the kids take off their shoes and we go out to eat that night so we don’t mess up the kitchen. And it only lasts, at best, a few hours. But for a short time, my wood floors are shiny (no little footprints!), my bathroom counters are a stark white again (no makeup spills!) and the smell of cleaning supplies is in the air (which reminds me I should probably switch to green cleaning supplies, do they have those on soap.com?)

Best of all, I can relax and enjoy it playing on the floor with my kids, rather than being down there scrubbing it. $80 well spent!