I can't write much or long tonight, as I am right in the middle of cleaning. I was recently encouraged by my pastor's wife and my sister-in-law and my husband to try including the kids in the cleaning process. After all, they help make the messes, they should help clean them up,right? So I tried that earlier this evening. You will see from the following why I have been hesitant in the past to do this, finding it much easier to just do it myself after they're asleep. Note: I agree with the advice I was given, and I will continue to practice it, because it is important for their development; but it is hard for me.
"Come on, kids, who wants to go hunting?" "Me!Me!Me!" (hmm, enthusiasm, that's a good sign...) "Okay, James, you're going to go on a shoe hunt!-you find all the shoes and put them on the shelf. Gabe, you go on a coat hunt, because you're the only one who can put them on hangers. Gracie, you go on a clothes hunt. You like clothes. You find them all and throw them down the stairs for Mommy." "What's Jane-Jane gonna do?" James asked. "Jane is going to...be good. Okay, let's go.-Oh, and Mommy's going to finish the dishes." (That was probably my mistake right there....I should have put the dishes on hold and gone and helped the youngest with their 'hunts'...lesson learned.)
I watched in amusement at how their hunting progressed. Gabriel right away hung all the coats on hangers and set them on the stairs for me to hang up high in the closet. Good boy. Gracie went up the stairs and found her favorite dress in the dirty laundry and put it on. "No, no, Gracie, I need you to find the clothes downstairs..." I went back to the dishes. James started to get shoes off the closet floor and found this cool looking vacuum cleaner hose. Forgetting all about the shoes, he proceeded to "brush" my kitchen floor for me. "I'm cleaning, Mommy!" (big grin) Gracie, meanwhile, obeyed and went and found all the clothes downstairs......and began trying them all on! Jane thought that looked like a good idea, so she too, began stripping and was very distressed that she couldn't get her diaper off. So I redirected them all back on track with their 'hunts'. Grace, once more, "obeyed"--she found a nice big pile of clothes to throw down the stairs......all of the coats on hangers Gabe had set nicely for me, she threw them all down to the laundry room. With a sigh, I gave up and finished my dishes. The kids began a game of 'pile on the couch & hide behind it'--I was busy and they were shrieking with joy, so I left them alone to play. Only to find that they had jumped on my piles of sheet music I had left neatly stacked on the couch for filing, scattering them all over the floor.....big sigh! Because they had each tried to help me with their hunts, and the boys finished their jobs, they each got their reward. But I, in turn, got rewarded with several new messes that need to be cleaned up. It never ends. I had to be amused, though, standing back and watching each of their 'hunts'....their different ages were manifest so clearly, and I must say, adorably. Because none of them were being naughty. They were trying to help, and getting distracted, and having fun. They are kids. And I love them, despite the messes. Their laughter and fun loving spirits make it worth the while. :)