I like to think of myself as a relatively sane person. True, I do hear my children yelling “Mommy!” even when they are asleep. And I am seeing tiny humans everywhere I go, even in the bathroom. (Except I’m pretty sure those are real.)
It is said that “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” So why — why — do I persist on “cleaning” the house, when there is an approximately zero percent chance that it will actually become clean, let alone stay clean, for longer than you can say “LEGO set”?
Nonetheless, attempt I do. And friends, I am happy to say that you, too, can have a house that looks like mine if you follow these easy steps.
- Stumble over an overturned stool after slipping on a book, cartoon-banana-peel style, and decide it’s time to clean the house.
- Tell your children that because they helped make this mess, they have to help clean it up.
- Explain the difference between “not knowing how” to do something and “not wanting” to do something.
- Decide to make it fun! Pull out your phone so you can play some upbeat music to clean along to!
- Realize the vast majority of songs you own are either from Sesame Street or have lyrics ranging from vaguely to explicitly inappropriate.
- Ooh, “Cotton Eye Joe!” Go ahead and put it on repeat. That song never gets old!
- Begin cleaning up the kitchen as the children clean the living room, merrily dancing along and patting yourself on the back for not only your awesome parenting skills, but also your stellar cleaning skills.
- Check on the kids. (The older two are fighting over who will pick up the yellow marker. The toddler is turning around in circles to make himself dizzy. Nothing has actually been picked up.)
- Explain to your children that there are approximately 68 other things they could pick up, not to mention approximately 23 other markers on the ground.
- Go back to cleaning the kitchen.
- Decide “Cotton Eye Joe” has gotten old. Turn it off so that you can be treated to the sounds of the children screaming, er, cleaning.
- Check in on the kids again. (The older two are each holding one end of the single marker and putting it away together. As they do this, the toddler is systematically emptying all the books off the bookshelf.)
- Consider the importance of instilling useful life skills in your children versus actually getting the house clean.
- Go with the latter and bring out the bribery, allowing one episode of Daniel Tiger upon the condition the room gets clean.
- Finish mopping the kitchen floors, occasionally checking in to witness the most efficient cleaning known to man taking place in the living room. (With the exception of the toddler’s continued insistence on taking the books out of the shelves, despite his sister’s horrific screams in protest.)
- Approve the state of the living room and set up Daniel Tiger in the other room. During these two minutes, the toddler dumps all the markers back onto the floor.
- Let the older two watch TV as you decide the only way to keep the toddler occupied is to give him a snack.
- Watch as the newly-mopped floors quickly develop a thin veneer of graham cracker crumbs and milk stains.
- Wish for a dog.
- Remember instead that you have cats, as evidenced by the tumbleweeds of cat hair floating through the living room, despite having swept the night before.
- Get out the broom as the toddler frantically says, “DONE DONE!” and signs his version of “done,” which involves wildly waving his hands as graham cracker crumbs torpedo through the room.
- Daniel Tiger is over. The house is noticeably messier than 22 minutes earlier.
- Send all the children to the basement to play so you can actually clean.
- Hear horrific banging, sounds of throwing, and perhaps something breaking — but three sets of laughter, so continue with the mission.
- Re-clean up the crumbs and milk, re-put away the markers, sweep up the cat fur, and decide it’s good enough.
- Go downstairs to see that your children have been playing a game that involves the oldest bringing every bucket of toys over to your daughter and dumping them at her feet.
- Every. Bucket.
- Go back upstairs, narrowly avoiding stepping on a hairball.
- Clean up the hairball.
- Remember that cleaning burns calories — presumably even if the house never actually gets any cleaner.
- Open a large bar of chocolate.
- Don’t forget to throw out the wrapper.
(The below is a photo of our house after I finally got it clean. This lasted for approximately 12 minutes.)