I came across an article the other day "10 easy tips to keep you kitchen clean". This was written for me. I live with a whole bunch of people who are not tidy, resist tidiness and act like I am crazy when I want to clean things up. I also work full time and am sometimes resentful to have to do all the cleaning. On top of this, while we could hire a house cleaner, either the house cleaner does not like us because we are too untidy or the family does not like the house cleaner touching our stuff. So I feel a overwhelmed and sometimes it gets messy.
So finally. Ten easy tips and it would be better. I was sold. But then I started reading and the first picture was something like the above where the person hadn't cleaned their breakfast dishes. I gave up after that. Dirty in our house usually involves some kind of science creation done in a part of the mixer you forgot you had being stirred by a naked Barbie and including lumps of glittered tissues. Ice cream caked onto the side of something inappropriate like a sauce pan which had been eaten with a soup ladle (bigger is better right?). Soap someone had been making in cup in the refrigerator that has now become sentient and is trying to sell me a vacuum cleaner. Breakfast dishes alone would be a delight.
I try to keep up, but get sick or hurt or tired and lose a weekend and it will all start to cascade. People tell me I should be sterner with my children. I have tried that. I try to lead by example. I try to set people up for success by getting rid of things in the house but it does not work. But between Joel with ADD and chronic fatigue he rarely has the energy or focus to help out. Sophie is often so caught up in her anxiety that it is impossible to get her to help and when she does she has a hard time. Runa is willing but little. So it is messy.
In reading about indigenous child rearing the responsibility of the child to contribute to the community - at an age appropriate level- is a key element. I try to teach this to the girls. Runa gets it, but Sophie doesn't and I don't know what to do. She is almost 11. I worry now about how she will live away from home when she cannot do basic clean stuff. That even applies to herself where she does not naturally do things most kids do, like brush their hair regularly. It is part of her conditions, but it is still frustrating.
I feel like I am being judged and come up lacking. I am the mom with the dirty house. I am the mom with the disheveled kid. I am the failure. I try to tell myself that I am doing the best that I can with what I have, but that doesn't help when you know that people are gossiping about you. I feel like people are going to look at me and see me as fitting into their stereotype of an indigenous person. Just another dirty lazy...
And the funny thing is that while people are judging me on my mess, they very often in the same breath will comment on how smart and engaged my children are. What good judgment they have. What interesting questions they ask. But in my opinion these things come together. My children are like that because of how we have raised them and who they are. We let them make messes and try things. Because of choices to spend my weekends doing things with them instead of cleaning. They do not interact with the world in regular ways due to learning disorders and other disabilities and thus they just see things in a different way.
I am still thinking this through and thinking about how I treat myself on this issue. I am going to try a new approach where each family member has a part of the house that they are responsible to keep orderly and we will have a contest to see who can keep theirs the cleanest. I don't know if this will work, most of the time my systems fall apart, but I keep trying. What do you think? Are you able to keep things well ordered? What works for you?