October 11, 2013

Getting Real About Guests and Housework

So, my mom calls me one day and says, "I bought you a gift, but my friends say that it will make you mad, but I don't think it will, but if it will, I want to return it and get my money back instead of paying to ship it, so...  It's a sign that says
and company

I laughed out loud.  "I LOVE that saying and I have it pinned in every color on Pinterest!  Love it!"

I could hear the smile in her voice.  "I knew you wouldn't be mad!  It's just so you!  You know, because your floors are always dirty!"  

And that was the moment I was slightly mad.  But I still love the sign. Anyway, I am an only child.  My mother never got the experience of having 3 kids who spill, create crumbs, and who think they're cleaning up a mess when really they're just spreading it around in an effort to be helpful.  And she had a really tidy and organized husband.  She has no idea just how dirty a floor can be.  So, you know... I try to take it easy on her.   

My house is tidy.  It's not immaculate, but it's no health hazard.  We have a serious junk drawer, and the space beside our piano (the side you can't see from the couches) is frequently stacked high with odds and ends that have no real home, like jackets that other kids have left at our house, Haven's piano bag, 5 leftover tiles from when we redid the kitchen floor, and toy jail.  There are always books piled high by the computers in the school area and even when the dishwasher is empty, someone has to go and put their plate in the sink. 

In my effort to get real, this week I am vowing to quit that whole false modesty thing that I do when it comes to my housework.  When I know people are coming over, I clean, clean, clean and then I make the kids eat on the back porch so that I don't have to clean again.  Haha!  And then, when people come in, I apologize for the mess.  We all know people who do that, and I'm one of them.  For shame!  

I'm still a Southerner at heart, so getting real by not cleaning for guests simply isn't an option.  Nope.  Not going to happen.  If I'm not willing to leave things as they are for company, how am I going to get real other than admitting that I worked my tail off to get it looking like it does when you arrive?

Well, I decided that it would be fine if kid areas got cleaned after company leaves instead of before they come. How insane is it to make the kids clean the play room before company comes, just so that guest kids have a clean room to wreck and so that my kids have to clean it a second time when they leave?  I mean, my grown-up friends leave my clean house clean, and then when they leave, I still have the joy of a clean house.  But kids guests are quite a different story.  So I decided to get real and say that the kid zones can stay cluttered until after company departs.  That, my friend, was a HUGE step for me.

But Hannah Jane protested when I announced that the kids didn't need to clean before their company.  Her thoughts were pretty darn insightful for a 10 year old.  "If we have a clean play room when our company arrives, they seem to treat our things with more respect and clean up after themselves as they play.  But if they come into a messy play room, they are careless with our things and leave it a disaster."  She then called for a vote and all three kids agreed that they actually wanted to pre-clean in an effort to enjoy having slightly more civilized guests.  Have you ever heard of kids who opted to clean?  I considered taking their temperatures, but I decided instead to dwell in a moment of momma-bliss.

So, in the end, getting real about housework, for me, simply means letting the kids choose for themselves what kind of hosts they are going to be, and that I'm going to stop pretending like I didn't work hard to get rid of the wet dog smell before you came or that I'm really ashamed of that one glass in the sink because it's not true.  The truth is that I'm pretty stinking proud that I managed to sweep, mop, and scrub the toilets before you arrived and that all I didn't get to was the glass in the sink.  Sure, it will never look perfect for guests.  There will still be Box Elder bug carcasses in the window sills and a sticky spot under the kitchen table, but I'm going to start saying, "Heck yeah!  I cleaned all morning, but only because I love you so much!  And even with all of my work, there's still a sticky spot!"

Sticky spots are part of life.  And wouldn't want to disappoint my mother.  I'm proud of that sign!  

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