I try to tidy the house as I go through the day. This means just putting things back where they belong so it’s not such a big job at the end of the day. I’m talking about books put back on the bookshelf, pots and pans off the floor and in the cupboard, lower-shelf pantry items put back in and the Tupperware cupboard re-stocked. Sometimes I even roll up the unrolled plastic wrap and foil that has been unravelled from the bottom drawer; put the tea towels back into their drawer and pick up the scattered boxes I’ve been saving to recycle. I also like to rescue plastic toys from under the grill. That’s just the kind of woman I am. As fast as I can pick up my children come along and pull out something else they’re not supposed to.
I have been told to just go with the flow that enjoying my children is far more important than a messy house. But you know what? A continually untidy house makes me stress. It’s not how I like to live. I like order. I like clean. I like tidy. I can cope with things not how I like them for a little while and then I flip and try to do everything at once; it’s nothing for me to expect (foolishly) to get the dishes done, the floors vacuumed and mopped, bed linen changed, bath and toilet scrubbed and four loads of washing done IN ONE DAY! Then I am annoyed that I cannot get it all done with the endless demands, the fighting, the need to stop and let them include me in games, all the while with Master 1 swinging off my leg and snotting on my clothes. Not to mention my body aching.
Last week I managed to get the kitchen and the floors done at a huge personal cost. I was exhausted before I began, but I committed to it and even with Master 1 climbing into the dishwasher and Master 2 chasing the vacuum cleaner and then wee-ing on the floor and Master 4 complaining that he couldn’t hear the television – I got the jobs done. I felt good. I could see what I had achieved. Then at the next request for food it all came undone.
As I swept up crumbs, I kept my cool. I thought that if I just give the house a quick sweep each day I will stay on top of this. At lunch time I was a little unnerved but stayed the course, sweeping and picking up things and putting them where they belonged. By mid-afternoon I had abandoned all hope. I enjoyed my tidy house for a mere couple of hours in total before it all went to shit.
Today I am setting myself just one task. I will attempt the holy grail of motherhood; the shower alone, before midday.