Well, it just so happened that a few dear friends from church came to my house during Sunday school and tidied up my living room and kitchen FOR me, as a kind service to me on my hardest day of the week. I don't think they were expecting what they walked in on. Needless to say I was 95% grateful and humbled by their service and 555% embarrassed that they saw the reality of my LIFE. So I did what anyone would do. I invited one of them (she's baby-sitting age) to come back and babysit for me the next Friday, giving me time to clean the entire house top to bottom so she would see that what she saw last Sunday was a FLUKE and I actually have total control over my house.
I worked so hard. It took me all week long to get the house back in order. Laundry was folded and put away (huge achievement), rooms were deep cleaned, vacuumed and dusted. I organized my office space! The bathroom was scrubbed and bleached and even my closet was walk-in-able again. The only part of the house that wasn't in pristine condition was a corner of the basement where we had a little leak from the rain and I had pulled out some bins and bags of winter clothing that were in a huge messy pile. And just to ensure that this girl--who had no idea how much I was trying to impress her--wouldn't see that mess, I told her not to let the kids go back there because of the leak.
We went out. All was well. I was so proud of myself. We get home and this sweet young woman tells me that the kids were great, except for one little hiccup. Eloise, my four year old, had disappeared for a while and they finally found her down in that one corner of the basement--you know, the messy corner. And on top of that, Eloise had been hoarding my chocolate coconut almonds down in that corner and had been so preoccupied with her mischievousness, that she POOPED right in that very spot, on the floor. So they saw the mess, they found the child, and there were feces on the floor.
I shall never redeem myself.
And so I've decided to step it up a bit in the house-keeping department. And it's about time I suck it up and let my kids get more involved as well.
And so, without further ado, I'd like to introduce....
(That belly bump is a stuffed bunny, not a baby. Just to clarify.)
I told my oldest two girls that a certain "super clean" lady was going to come and see if they were doing their chores correctly and if everything was neat and tidy. She pops in as needed and is silly and very particular with how a room is cleaned. If it's not up to par, then she kisses you to death with her bright red lipstick and shows you how to do it right. They ate it up and were so willing to help me find props for this lady, who they named "Mrs. Lilywhite." And thus she was born.
Mrs. Lilywhite wears heels, a white glove, and brings her little dogs, both of which happen to be little purses so they double as a "gunny bag," who eats toys left out after clean up time. She re-applies her lipstick several times throughout her check of the house, so that she can really leave her mark.
Here they are, after their first visit with Mrs. Lilywhite. We had spent about an hour before she came doing morning order, and putting some more folded laundry away. If you look closely, you can see who requested kisses the most. (To see how we manage morning and bedtime order, read this post.)
Eloise looks forlorn for some reason. Maybe she's feeling guilty about the poop.
On top of Mrs. Lilywhite, I talked to my kids about how I need their help keeping the house clean, now that they are home all day and not at school. So on top of their usual morning and bedtime order, and Saturday zones, I would need them to help with some extra chores during the day as well. We decided to call them "happy helper chores." (Doesn't that just sound pleasant?). Ideally, they will do their morning order and then have a "happy helper chore" assigned by me. It varies depending on what needs attention on that particular day.
We have followed through with this plan for a week now and I'm happy to report that it ain't all that bad. They get paid an extra .25 cents for these tasks, or more depending on the job. (To see our family economy, read here.)
And despite our best efforts, our house can still go from this:
(our newly carpeted basement!)
(There's a few extra kids in there.)
But that's okay because we do LIVE HERE.
On top of keeping up with chores, we've been needing to review our family laws/consequences since we are together all day and sibling rivalry is at an all-time high. Here's what we're doing to help with PEACE in our home:
We use this chart on and off, but we have started again now that it's summer. Everyone starts out on awesome. If rules (at the top) are being broken, they move to warning, then "Antarctica," a place we go to cool off and feel better, and then eventually ten minutes in bed.
This has worked pretty well for us.
We recently added a new family goal of "no hit backs." We've had a serious problem with retaliation lately and "getting even." Oh parenthood, you fine refining fire.
How are you keeping peace and order in your house?
(Has your child ever pooped in your basement?)