I Thought Toddlers Were Messiest–I Was Wrong

If you know me, or if you’re a long-time reader (hi to all six of you!), you’ll know that my standards for household cleanliness are…higher than those of the house’s other occupants. By, like, A LOT. You’d think that Jon, being an adult, would have similar standard to mine, but he does not. Or perhaps he does, but he’s less motivated to achieve them (or yell at someone else until they achieve them). Whatever the reason, I’m usually the one stomping around, raging that “Our house is that island of trash that’s floating in the middle of the ocean!” and everyone else is just diving out of the way, looking at me like I’m insane.

I really thought that as the girls got older, this would get better. No, not me. The mess. I’m not going to lower my standard just because they can’t be met. Don’t be silly. Anyway, I assumed with bigger children, who could and would take on more chores, be more responsible and fear my wrath more, the house would be cleaner.

This turns out to…not be true. It’s an untruth on a Sarah Huckabee Sanders level. It’s not quite Oval Office level untrue, but it’s definitely a conclusion I drew based on little or no evidence simply because I wanted it to be true. Unlike some people behind podiums, however, I can admit when I’ve been told or believed a lie, and this, friends, was a lie.

They’re not cleaner. AT ALL. They don’t have less stuff, they have more stuff, and this new, multiplicative stuff is even messier than the toddler stuff. The pieces are tinier. It comes with glitter. It comes with beads. It comes with stickers and markers and fake hair and nail polish and very tiny hair ties and Legos smaller than Gabbie’s smallest finger nail and pieces of foam and paper and fabric that should be cut into smaller, tinier pieces of foam and paper and fabric and chalk and string and plastic packing that’s great for removing and then shoving under one’s bed and and and and and and.

Also, even when the do clean, they don’t. Not really. Cleaning your room should just be renamed, moving shit around in a creative way that Mom is less likely to notice it when she walks in. Maddie received 12 giant (GIANT) hair bows for Christmas, and since that time, they have adorned almost every conceivable surface in her room, and if you try to get her to move them, you are RUINING her creative decor. Gabbie, seemingly incapable for taking off her clothes and putting them in her laundry basket (and they each have their own IN their rooms), is amazingly quite good at stashing dirty socks, underwear and often entire outfits in her dress-up box and stuffed-animal bin.

They’re also both now doing more stuff on their own, which is great, but this results in toothpaste, shampoo, condition, body wash, and flossers EVERYWHERE. I don’t think they even USE the flossers half the time–they just take them places and leave them to taunt me.

Ask them to do a chore, and you will most likely have to do it again. Unless, of course, it’s cleaning the mirrors, and then you will just have to content yourself with replacing the already full bottle of Windex when they’re done. I really want my kids to grow up with a sense of responsibility and also knowing how to actually function as adults in the world, but I can see why people don’t bother. It’s the most frustrating thing (aside from voting Democratic in Kansas, that is). You ask them to something (and then ask them another five times before they actually do it), and then once it’s half-assedly done, you have to ask them to do it again, and bam! You don’t love them, you don’t appreciate them, they tried their hardest, and they thought it was going to be a good day, but clearly not. The day is ruined, they will just go to their rooms (and make a gigantic mess making, like, a blanket fort in which to pout with maximum drama) because obviously you don’t care about them at all. Maybe my children are just more “extra” than yours, but this has literally happened to me. More than once.

Lately, they’ve all been frustrated with me, because I can’t just let things go. Jon, per the usual, blames the dog (because he always blames the dog), and the girls have started throwing out that old, familiar chestnut “But it’s MY room! Why can’t it be the way I want it?!” But seriously, every. single. room I walk into is dirty in some way. We’re reaching 10 years in this house, and that entrenched-level grime is starting to set in. And due to my new job (which in all other respects is great), I no longer have time during the day to take 10 minutes and sweep the floors or clean a toilet or put 500 pairs of Barbie shoes away.

I’ve tried to talk to Jon about a housekeeper, but he doesn’t think it’s in the budget. I also tried to point out that a housekeeper was probably cheaper than marriage counseling, but he didn’t think I was being serious…

Retta knows I’m serious.

Bernie knows I’m serious.

PRINCE. Knows I’m serious. That man was particular. Not that I’m judging.

At any rate, I’m revising my clean house estimate. Fall 2030. The year Gabbie leaves for college.