Now that I’ve come out of the closet and admitted my accidental parenting, I’ve got a couple more gems to share with you.
You know that feeling you had as a child when you first realized you really could pedal your bike down the street with your arms outstretched like a bird? I feel that way as a parent sometimes! =D I accidentally stumble onto some truth or action that really works and I see that my children are actually learning stuff and growing into decent human beings and I think, “Hey, Cool! I’m really doing it! I’m being a Mom!!”
Take for example, household work. With five people who like to get dirty on a regular basis, there is a lot of laundry going on in this house. Often times there are two overflowing tall baskets in the hallway, one in our room, and one downstairs. Not to mention the dirty clothes that I can’t seem to convince anyone to pick up off of the bathroom floor and put in the dirty clothes baskets. One day I’ll declare it’s laundry day, which pretty much means that I sweat and groan all those clothes down the stairs to wash them, nag everyone to help me fold them (which takes an hour) and then we all grunt and groan the clothes back up the stairs to put them away. Yuck. I’ve very quickly been teaching my kids that house work is indeed a chore- not something that we enjoy the fruit of.
Add to that the fact that my second trimester energy spurt seems to have spurted out on me and you’ve got an entire upstairs that smells like dirty laundry, kids with no clean underwear, and an overwhelmed Mamma. Just the other day, the kids were running circles around the downstairs screaming like wild Indians (more on that later) and I knew they needed something to do. But I looked around my house and also knew that my house needed some attention as well. “How am I supposed to run this house and come up with constructive activities for my kids for 12 hours a day?!?” I shouted at Brent. (Yes. There. I said it. I shouted at my husband. The good news is, he isn’t the sensitive type to get his feelings hurt easily.)
It hit me later on after he left for work, casually tossing these words at me, “You’ll figure something out. You’re smart enough to do this.” What a guy.
DOH! Having the kids help me keep house IS a constructive activity! I don’t have to feel overwhelmed about all of the things it takes to run this house and spend quality time with my kids and teach them about life and make enough soap to keep the whole world naturally clean and fresh. AND, while my body is temporarily tired and in resting mode, their little bodies never seem to run out of energy. So they can do a lot of the work that I’m too tired to do.
I can’t tell you how many times in the last week I have trudged my round self up the stairs and seen all the dust bunnies resting on the wooden steps and thought, “Man, I have really got to get the vacuum cleaner up here.” Or how many times I have looked out the back door and realized it was covered in sticky (although sweet) dirty little hand prints. And then there’s that laundry.
After Brent’s encouraging little speech, I turned to my children and said, “Today kids, you will learn to run the house.” Their little eyes lit up! After breakfast we all emptied and refilled the dishwasher. Of course they put things in backwards and I had to instruct them to separate the forks from the spoons and knives, because I’m anal like that. Then we did Bible time and started on the laundry.
This is where I really got into the whole hands free thing.
Arwen pulled the clothes out of the washer and Charis shoved them into the dryer.
Then they all got into the action of putting the clothes into the washer. Charis handed them the dirty clothes and they put them in. Shameless plug: Using Soap Nuts makes it fool proof. I showed Arwen how to check and make sure the soap nuts were ready to go, drop some essential oils onto the bag and toss it in. No measuring or toxic chemicals to mess with.
And I sat and watched.
We taught them a long time ago how to fold their clothes. Not that they actually stay folded in the drawers, but that is the eventual goal. They also can fold the little wash cloths and dish towels, etc.
Today Arwen asked if she could vacuum the couch and I sent Charis to tackle the stairs with the dust buster. Arwen then vacuumed the downstairs while Charis went around with a spray bottle, wiping down all those sticky hand prints from the doors. Ezra helped me slice soap while they were doing that.
When we went upstairs to nap, the house looked like it was ready for company. I didn’t need a nap today, so I took a bath instead, since there really wasn’t that much left to do.
The whole time we’re working I’m saying things like, “I just love having a clean house that smells nice! It makes me feel so happy and comfortable!” and “Daddy is going to be so glad to come home to a clean house today. He really appreciates all the things we do to keep the house tidy.” and “If we don’t clean the floors and pick up our toys, bugs will come in and try to hide under them. I don’t like when bugs come in the house.” You see, I am deliberating brainwashing them. Replacing the thought of “This is work” with “This is a meaningful way for me to contribute to my family and I have an important job.”
I couldn’t help but contrast my children with the little girl across the street. While they were humming around our house like the birds and mice on Snow White, she was sitting on her front porch watching it rain, looking lonely and dejected. My kids feel so proud and needed. We have a little enterprise going here, and everyone counts and they know it. And they nap like crazy after I’ve had them working alongside me all morning rather than trying to move them around out of my way .
Now where is my gold star??