I read a really great article today from the Washington Post, and you can feel free to read it here. Basically this man talks about how people always seem to blame his wife for their messy house, and how he too used to be one of those people.
This really hit home for me. Especially after the twins started crawling/walking and getting in to things, and our fourth child was born. I could keep up with the chaos in our home fairly well until those changes occured, but now is a much different story. I now have three rambunctious toddlers and a demanding 5 month old. All four are absolutely adorable, and completely capable of making the largest messes you have ever seen. And then some.
My husband and I have had a similar argument, and yes the phrase came up, “What do you do all day?” Unpleasantness ensued, as you can imagine. That was a while ago though and he really does understand now what it is that I am dealing with-but the rest of the world isn’t quite so understanding.
Let me tell you, I grew up in an immaculate home. I was an only child and both of my parents worked full time, but my mother always always made sure the house was in order. That’s just how she was. No one ever had room to talk about our home. Not even a little. She has always been very particular and a little OCD about things, ever since she was a girl helping to raise her younger sisters. From a young age she learned to run a house efficiently, and she taught me the same. I was in charge of my own laundry and keeping my room organized and clean relatively early on. All in all my mother did a wonderful job.
I on the other hand am not gifted with a mind like hers. Yes, I know how to clean and keep things in order-but keeping up with things as seemingly effortlessly as she did alludes me. Although, as said, I do have four children under the age of three. Now my mother has never really criticized my household management but others definitely have. Some family, some friends. It’s not nice, it’s not pleasant when it happens, in fact it can really sting.
Sometimes, yes, our home looks like a disaster zone. Do I clean? Yes, of course I do! What is it that I do all day? Let me give you a peek:
The baby wakes up to nurse, which usually wakes one of the twins up, who comes to get in the bed with me-and proceeds to toss and turn the rest of the night.
Our daughter wakes, for whatever reason and comes to get into the bed with me and her brother. Fighting over blankets and tossing and turning and occasional kicking ensues.
If I can muster the energy this is my only chance at a shower for the day.
If I managed to steal a shower all of the kids are alternating knocking on the bathroom door, screaming, and tearing my bedroom apart. If I didn’t manage a shower at this point all children usually jump on me not so gently to wake me up.
Frantic and anxious cries ensue for milk as I pour cups and mix nesquik. Then I turn the light on in the playroom and immediately the toys are dumped out of the toy box and I turn on cartoons.
The baby nurses, and I attempt to settle disputes and fix any problems that occur for the three toddlers with a baby hanging from my breast.
Breakfast for the three eldest. Also, dishes are put away and or washed assuming the water will run hot. We have constant issues with the water heater and a landlord who hasn’t taken action. If the water is cold I have to reset the water heater and wait at least an hour.
More active play, which involves throwing toys here there and everywhere-sometimes a trip to the park. And our daughter is at the age where she wants to dress up and change clothes approximately 12 times a day, give or take-so there are often clothes scattered around. Oh, and I usually start one of two (sometimes more) loads of laundry during this time. Fingers crossed for hot water! Also, an hour of nursing starts at either 10 or 11 and last for about an hour.
A nap is attempted for all kids during this time. Sometimes it works and some times it doesn’t. If it does work then I continue with laundry. Attempt to write a little bit to maintain my sanity and do a workout to help me keep something for myself and improve my health. Also, if I am particularly exhausted by this point I will attempt a nap. However, if the kids nap is unattainable, lots of unpleasant cranky teething toddler shenanigans ensue. I attempt to entertain them and play with them, but if they don’t take a nap their moods usually go down hill from here regardless of my efforts.
The three eldest have lunch and maybe watch a movie. Oh, and I try to remember to eat something too. Also, I attempt to tame the mess around the house. Picking up things here and there, and continuing laundry.
I nurse the baby and the kids play-undoing all of my efforts to clean up.
Continue laundry. Start dinner prep. Cook. All while attempting to keep children out of the kitchen, off of counters-generally keeping them from climbing anything and everything. Try to soothe the baby who is mad because I am distracted and can’t give him all of my attention at the moment.
Get the twins into their highchairs-who are running in opposite directions away from me, giggling all the way. Get our daughter to sit down at her place to eat. Serve dinner. Beg daughter to eat. Bribe daughter to eat. Lots of frustration at this point. Depending on whether or not nap time was succesful, the cranky level can reach an all time high during this time. Usually I need to nurse the baby too because he naturally wants to eat with everyone else-except me. I don’t always get to eat during this period. Either the kids are really cranky or usually nursing the baby is the priority and it’s just to awkward to try and eat while he does. Also, attempt video chat with husband and kids.
Bath time. The kids play in the tub for a while and them the dreaded shampoo and rinse begins. They hate it. Crying usually ensues. The baby usually looks on from his chair in amusement or cries in his bassinet because the others are being too loud. Then one by one I get them dried off and dressed. I lay the twins down for bed. Our daughter gets to stay up just a little bit longer and finish a movie.
Continue laundry. Attempt to eat my dinner. Keep daughter from bouncing off of the walls in an attempt to keep her brothers awake. Attempt to get her to put her toys away. Vacuum. Tuck daughter in for the night between 7:30 and 8:30. Go separate twins who have gotten into the same bed and are loudly screaming at each other. Probably have to go back in one more time. Play with baby. Nurse again around 8:45 until 9:30. Lay baby down. Then do 30 min workout video.
10:00pm to 10:30am
Put leftovers away if I haven’t already. Wipe kitchen counters and rinse dishes and put them in the sink. Maybe wash dishes-depends on level of sleepy, oh and if I remembered to reset the water heater earlier. Probably restart drier. Maybe sure daughter had clean training pants for tomorrow. Pick up odds and ends.
10:30pm to 11:00pm
Go to bed.
Sometimes I do think I could or should do more. But you know what? I am doing the best I can. Meanwhile, I am dealing with potty training and teerhing issues. My husband is away for work most of the time-which I support-but I have to keep my sanity too. So forgive me if I forfeit picking up a few things or folding a load of clothes to attempt a little sleep or to keep my kids happy.