Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Just Vacuuming? Nope.

Last Friday, we had a full schedule.  And not just a "I have a couple of things to do today" day, but a "when exactly is all that going to get done?" day.  A "well, if there were four of me this would be do-able" day.  A "what was I thinking?" day.  You get the picture.

At one point in the morning, I lugged out the vacuum for my weekly "get the Gimli mats off the floor" job. The added perk to this week's vacuuming was that Gimli was currently at "The Foxy Hound" getting his summer do'.  That meant that when he got home, there would be significantly less of him to shed on the floor and it would stay cleaner longer.  At least, that's the theory.

As I started up the vacuum, my two stay-at-home girls ran in opposite directions in search of their own vacuums.  One is a Shark and works while the other is purple, has googly eyes and says things like, "oooh-hooo ... I love cleaning up!"  Unfortunately the one that actually sucks up stuff actually has to be plugged in to be charged.  And since that didn't happen, no one wanted it.  And so ensued the battle for the happy vacuum.

As this mini-war waged on, I ... turned on my real, working, roaring vacuum.  Aaahhh ... the sweet bliss of a noisy chore.  :)  Unfortunately, while I couldn't hear them, I could see them:  grasping, crying and flailing.  Being the responsible mom, I stepped in and we started sharing; back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.  Peace ensued for a bit.

I got back to sucking up pounds of dog hair and the girls happily shared for about 3 minutes.  This is when it dawned on me:  As a mom, I don't ever just do anything.  I don't just wash dishes - I also pour milk, blow noses and hand out animal crackers.  I don't just clean bathrooms - protect little hands from "ouchy chemicals", wipe bottoms and hand out Kleenex.   I don't just vacuum - I prevent WWIII.  And if you're a parent, it's the same for you.  Let's take a peak at just what we do, shall we?

Since my vacuuming tango is still rather fresh in my mind, we'll use this scenario:

You plug in the vacuum and your child runs screaming and crying from the room and hides her face in the pillows of the couch.  You give warm reassuring pats until she comes out and then you resume your task.  

Once you're back to vacuuming, you enlist your little people to pick up the toys from the floor as you approach.  Most of them make their way into toy basket.  With a little encouragement from you, the last remaining doll and random toy screwdriver find their way to the toy bin.  You continue with your vacuuming of the living room.  

A small fight breaks out over the play vacuum. (See? This scenario is based in my reality.  Scary, huh?)  While continuing to vacuum, you watch over your shoulder to see if they can work it out.  Nope.  The littler one chucks the happy vacuum ("Whee! I love doing chores!") at the older one, who proceeds to burst into understandable tears.  You turn off the vacuum, scoop the little stinker up and plop her in time-out.  You snatch a tissue for the slippery-nosed older child, check for wounds, snuggle her onto the couch and get back to work.  

You manage to vacuum half the living room before the calls from the corner, "Maaaaaammmaaaa!  Maaaammmmaaa!" become too loud to ignore.  Off again.  You head over to the culprit, have a brief discussion regarding sharing and "having nice hands".  The littlest one gives sweet "sawry" hugs to the older sniffler and then they are back to squealing and sharing and cleaning.  ...sigh... 

Back to vacuuming for you.  As soon as you finish with the downstairs, your oldest is tugging at your leg.  

"Remember, Mommy ... you said I could do the stairs." 

"Yep ... okay, here's how you do it."  

So ensues a quick tutorial on vacuuming stairs:  suck up the cracks, the use the brush on the carpet.

"Okay ... I'm a helper."  

Unfortunately, the little one isn't.  As the vacuuming begins again, the littlest one starts pestering by turning the vacuum off and on, and off and on ... and off.  Little eruptions of, "Mommmmm!  She's turning it off!" fill the air.  You are standing right there, so you know that already.  thankyouverymuch.  You proceed to have a few discussions with the turkey about "no touch" and "be a helper".  She offers a mumbled, "Ya, Mama" and heads off to find the perky vacuum, which you are surprised to find up on the dining room table.  Upon handing it to the little one, the older one pipes up, "I was using that!"  So ensues a discussion about ... you guessed it, "sharing".  After the stairs are de-haired, you proceed to vacuum the living room.  (And begin wondering ... "Why do we have so many rooms to vacuum?")

As the vacuuming continues you find yourself in the following situations:

  • Asking the youngest child to climb off the vacuum so you can move it.  (repeat 12 times)
  • Asking the older child to climb off the vacuum so you can move it. (repeat 8 times)
  • Asking the older child to finish the job she started and put the cleaning wipes away.  Completely.
  • Asking the younger child to sit down with her snack at the table.
  • Wiping several bottoms.
  • Washing several hands.
  • Helping two little girls find homes for their Disney Princesses so they don't get sucked up in the vacuum.
... and ...
  • Reinforcing the, "don't touch the plug" rule.  (repeat 6 times)

Eventually, you finally finish vacuuming the house.  And it only took you 1 hour and 22 minutes.

Now at the end of the day, you might be tempted to look back over your day and think, "Here's my list of things to do ... and all I got done was just vacuuming".  But I would say that you did more than just vacuum.   A lot more.

In the midst of your vacuuming ...
  • You brought comfort to a scared child.
  • You showed a child how to be brave.
  • You taught the importance of sharing.
  • You reinforced the value of being a servant.
  • You gave instructions on how to vacuum.
  • You taught how to clean up, 100%.
  • You reinforced the importance of gentle, loving hands.
  • You showed the importance of asking for forgiveness.
  • You revealed the importance of offering forgiveness.
  • You instructed in the safety of sitting while eating.
  • You required obedience and reinforced the value of respecting authority.
  • You reinforced the importance of good personal hygiene.
  • You taught the worthiness of being responsible with your belongings.
  • You gave practical instructions regarding the dangers of electricity.
  • You showed your children, first-hand, the importance of perseverance and the value of seeing a job through to its end.
See ... you did a lot!

And that, my dear .... is why you are exhausted! :)

It's not the housework that is tough ... it's the all-important child-training that goes on during the housework that makes us tired.  The training, actually, is what is essential, though.  And the cleaning?  Well ... that falls more under the "facts of life" category.

Just don't ever forget that you aren't just keeping house ... you're loving & training your kids, too!


Be sure to pop over to the side bar and read through "What's For Dinner?" and "Trekking Thru the Bible" ... all new this week! :)


  1. This post is hilarious and so true at the same time. Do you feel like your constantly living in dog hair? Because I do. And when I vacuum, I not only have to console my scared child, but the dogs run through the house even more scared than the kid. Thanks for the laughs!


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