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How Much Cleanup Really Happens When Children Clean Up?

What does cleaning up the kitchen look like at your house?

At my house, the picture is different depending on the time of day. If I clean up anytime in the morning or midday, it's a quick, methodical process with a little banging of dishes if needed for venting.

If, big if, Kris is cleaning the kitchen, there is water everywhere, but the dishes are clean, either in the dishwasher or by hand. He helps more often than not by cooking dinner, so I don't complain that he doesn't clean as often. I'd rather clean than cook any day.

If Kal and Kara clean the kitchen, it's usually after supper.

To set the scene, I turn into a puddle in the early evening. I'm just done with the day. I've worked to the bone. Need rest. That also pushes me to the brink of my tolerance level.

Kris and the kids will put away food and clear the table. Those sound like very simple jobs. They really should be simple jobs, but...

Somehow, it's just not simple with children. First, there is the battle to keep them in the kitchen after dinner, present in body at least. That is itself is a battle--all while I'm a puddle.

Then Child 2 tells Child 1 how to do it. It could be anything. Child 1 doesn't take kindly to being told what to do by anyone, let alone a sibling. So Child 1 lashes out with an unsavory remark. Child 2 raises his/her voice to insist that Child 1 follows the rules. This back-and-forth carries on all while I have zoned out from being a puddle, done with the day, and it results in both children taking 5 times as long as necessary to complete the simple tasks of putting away food and clearing the table.

Kris has escaped the scene long ago after rinsing his dishes and putting them in the dishwasher; I finally have all I can take, find strength from somewhere deep in my soul, rise from my puddled state, and start on the warpath to a clean kitchen that only a mother who has had enough can imitate.

When Mom gets like that, it's best just to scatter. Go take baths, and get in bed--quietly.

By the time they actually are in bed, I've calmed down enough and we all tend to the ruffled feathers of each other, kissing good night, saying prayers, and saying with love we'll see you in the morning. Maybe the kitchen is clean, and maybe it's not.

I love my kids. It's hard at times actually making them behave or help around the house, but the love is embedded in my soul, and I get a particular joy at seeing them grow and develop.

My family is the best part of my day.


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