Sunday, March 29, 2009

Boys will be boys. And so will men.

The other night when Ryan and I were cleaning up after we put the kids in bed, I happened to walk in on Ryan - lifting up the ottoman just enough to shove a bunch of toys under it to "clean up" the living room. As he put it down, he looked up, saw me standing over him with raised eyebrows, and attempted an innocent, "What??" Which was met by an incredulous, "Are you KIDDING me??"

I have now decided I am looking forward to the time when these boys are old enough to understand scrubbing down the bathroom faucets with a toothbrush, the concept of everything having it's place, closing a drawer with everything pushed in, and what it really means when I say clean up. And I'll pull the old BYU resident assistant cleaning checks on them. Until this place shines like the top of the Chrysler building... (ok, ok.) But I'm going to make sure they understand the meaning of doing something and doing it well. (Which, I am quite certain Ryan believes in every area that involves, um, work.)

But this brings me to my next point: my nemesis. Why is bedtime and the cleanup routine so doggone awful? Why do I dread that time every day? What can I do to make it more bearable? I've tried a few things lately - like starting dinner in the afternoon, or while the kids nap. I've tried (sob) weaning myself from my naps so I can get stuff done during the afternoon so things will go more smoothly at bedtime. I should even probably admit to the fact that my kids don't even wake up that early and I usually get to sleep in. I'm trying to start using that time to get my rear end out of bed and exercise. Baby steps.

But the evening usually goes like this: I'm making dinner, the kids are destroying the house, Ryan gets home, we eat, we give the kids baths and get them ready for bed (which is such a process), wrestle the babies (and I mean wrestle, chase, curse and whatever else you do to get a one year old to hold still for what should take 60 seconds while you diaper and dress them), fight the tooth-brushing, put the babies in bed only to listen to them scream and bang on the walls for the next half hour until they finally give up, while we crash on the couch and survey the damage. Dirty dishes, food on the floor, food still out from cooking, three high chairs smeared in food, clothes out everywhere that we took off before baths, dirty diapers waiting to go out to the garbage, mail to go through, laundry to do, an elliptical machine reminding me that I still haven't exercised because of course I didn't get up early, and every toy in the house scattered over every inch of floor. Sigh. We're so tired and have so little energy to tackle any of this, and we cringe knowing that once again we're kissing goodbye to any amount of down-time we thought we might have before we crash for the night.

So really? What works? I realize I need to start making Cash more responsible for cleaning up. We're usually so anxious to be done with the kids that we just want them in bed. And having him clean up usually leads him to just playing with more things as he's attempting to help pick them up...which leads to nagging...which I just don't have the energy for so I say let's just throw them in bed and do it ourselves. So yes, I think I just need to stick to it and make him help. Like I said, trying to get dinner started in the afternoon seemed like a good idea, just not always possible. Is it just like this for everyone? Or do I just wait it out, and know that when my kids are older and more capable I will feel less loathing for bedtime?

(And I should mention that yes, I feel guilty that this is what my hard-working husband comes home to every night, and I realize I am lucky that he helps out so much!)


Anonymous said...

Sounds so familiar! And then there are those nights you have to do it alone, while Ryan is gone. I always admired my neighbor for her "9 o'clock pick-up," and I had a hard time managing it. The fact that your home is so spotless between 8 p.m. and 7 a.m. was remarkable when I was there. Good luck, keep up the good work!


Anonymous said...

I know.

I know.

And I hate to say it but, dude, you have got to get rid of the EVERY DAY bath routine.


Or what I do is bathe my kids in the morning. And to be honest it's like once every three or four mornings. And sure, we don't do anything else that morning except maybe get some laundry going, but I am all about getting the kids down right at 8 and then starting a movie. Looking forward to that is what gets me through the day sometimes. Also, we eat right at 6 (I'm all about simple meals), and right after dinner James always does the dishes while I hang out with the kids. So by the time they go down at 8 we try to have the house totally clean so we don't have to waste one precious minute between their bedtime and ours.

It will also help when your boys are a little bit older and can play in the tub while you do other things like finish cleaning up. But I'm sure we'll all have a little more time when our kids are older. :)

lindsy said...

oh my goodness. getting dinner ready is a joke every single day. the boys are both hungry, they want to be held, yes, they trash the house, usually every cupboard in the kitchen is pulled out because I'm trying to get dinner done. I love getting Matt ... even Wyatt, 16 mo ... to help with dinner. Whatever they can do. Yes, it usually is another mess, but at least they're helping. Wyatt loves putting his own dirty clothes in the laundry room. He thinks it's a game and he's good at it. It takes forever at first to get them to do it, but say it like it is supposed to be fun and now he grabs them all and runs to put them away. And yeah, we have both of them help clean up everything in their rooms and the living room before they go to bed. Takes more time, but they're getting good and I think they actually like it cleaned up. For some reason they love brushing their teeth and yes, the kitchen, dishes, highchair, floor under the highchairs are trashed once they're in bed, but it's a start. Good luck. I think it's awesome teaching these boys to clean up and be responsible and help out. You're doing great.

Lima Bean said...

I'm with you girl. I have no suggestions, because I am also overwhelmed by the sight of my house every single night. And every single day. I mean, James is almost 6 and I feel like I nag him all day long to pick up things that he has just dropped all over the house. And man, I hate just being a nag already at this early stage in their life.

Sometimes the only thing that keeps me sane is thinking at least they're playing with their toys-- i mean, that is why they have toys, right? it sucks to pick them up or nag them to pick them up, but at least they're getting played with. It's not much consolation.

Jess said...

I don't have any suggestions for you because I cannot even get my husband to help.
I seem to always save it for naptime or evening.

Safire said...

I hate bedtime. And I'm with Angela...get rid of nightly baths. I am also a horrible mom but we do baths once a week in the winter, and twice a week in the summer. I have no excuses but that's just what we do.

Also, we have dinner at 5pm, no later than 5:30pm if I can help it. J does the dishes while I put the boys to bed by 6pm and Butterfly helps with the kitchen clean up (busing the dinner dishes, wiping the table down, little things she can do). Once the boys are in bed, we pick up all the toys (toy bedtime we call it) and then we hang out together/read books until B's bedtime at 7:15pm.

At least, that's what it's supposed to be. But it's often not. I will clean up while J puts B to bed or I will just leave the toys because really, do they need to be put away every day when they will just get out 8 hours later? I do my best to push them to the edges of the room and ignore them.

I feel for you. Bedtime is the pits!

Jenilee said...

I find that if I have dinner ready no later that 6:00pm I can usually get the dishes done before bath time which is around 7:15 - 7:30. I am a very routine person, so if I stick to it things usually get done.
The toys don't always get put away, which is ok with me. Of course I love a clean, organized home, but I sometimes love my alone time after bedtime more.
I figure if I at least have the dishes done and tables wiped, I am doing pretty good.
About the daily bath routine - Bella has a bath daily, but Savannah does not. She also usually gets herself ready for bed, while Bella has a bath. I like the daily bath to help Bella know it is bed time.
Good luck!

SuburbiaMom said...

Oh, I think it's like that for everyone! Some days I finally clear the table from the breakfast mess only so that I can put lunch on.

Getting young kids to help is worth the hassle because it will hopefully become a habit (sortof, on some of mine). My kids don't get to eat dinner unless they've cleaned up their toys. There are lots of ideas for getting kids to help out (I listed a few on my blog a few months back).

I some times make dinner during naptimes too!

Melanie said...

Now I will start with - I only have one kid so I cant really say what I would do with 3.
First -Harrison is only bathed once or twice a week. A wash cloth to the face everday is good enough in the mean time. Second - I leave the kitchen mess for the morning. I wake up and have the energy to do dishes and clean up while H is eating a simple yogurt or bowl of cereal. He then plays or "helps" wash dishes after he eats. Im sure some people couldnt fall asleep at night knowing there are dirty dishes in the kitchen but I just cant face them at the end of the day. (plus I dont have a dish washer). Thirdly - I say my work day ends at 8pm. So I put my feet up and enjoy my evening after H is in bed all that other stuff will be waiting for me in the morning. Since I take the time to relax in the evening I feel more motivated to get things straight in the morning. I can say with confidence you are not alone in this stuggle and people with immaculate houses are a mystery to me.

Anonymous said...

Crockpot cooking. Bins or toy bags for sorting toys. AND. you have a happy family. More important than ANYTHING else. Too soon waiting up for them to come home from work or dates - then you can clean while you wait. Keep doing what you are doing! I wish I could do it again. Sweet innocence.

Angie said...

I second the crockpot cooking ideas, the bins for toys, the clean up before bedtime, the less frequent bathing (my pediatrician actually told us to bathe less because we live in the desert and the kids have eczema--best thing that man ever told me!).

Some of my kids are a little older than yours now (but there are 5) so they can help a bit more--but they whine a lot.

For me I had to decide (and keep deciding on a daily basis) what trumps in my life--tidiness, sleep, exercise or downtime. Usually it's some combination of all of the above. Everything goes better on days I run before the kidlets are up, but some days I just really need to sleep in. It's impossible to keep giving when you're on empty. Some days, you go to bed or watch a movie in a messy house because that's all you can do.
Remember that your children are young and this may be a time for a bit of chaos. You figure out how much mess you can survive in and let the rest go until people are a bit bigger and can respond to direction. But it's all baby steps.

Angie said...

Okay that was supposed to be "clean up before dinner time" not bedtime

H. said...

Well, considering my dishes aren't done, my laundry isn't folded, the toys are still out, and the kids have been in bed for 2 hours, I don't think I'm in any position to give advice. Good luck. Thank heavens to have help to face the wreckage. (I did think that was so funny that you caught Ryan hiding those toys, though.)

Goeb Life said...

I too have gotten rid of the every day bath routine, even though Eva really needs it. I just try and hose her down really well. :)

Try Crock Pot cooking, it is a life saver for me! I make salsa chicken all the time. Chicken in the crock with a jar of salsa and shred to use on tacos or salads. Yummy.

I have gotten the bins for the toys and given up on the toys being in the bins I want them in, as long as they are off the floor.

Most nights we clean up the kitchen together while Eva plays until the timer goes off (works wonders...set the timer for play time and then when it is done there is no messing around), then we get the kids ready for bed. Divide and conquer.

Then we get ourselves ready and we have like an hour to do whatever before we pass out, or before Brady wakes up to eat again.

It sure isn't easy to have kids and keep a smooth running household...there are some moms who seem as if they can do it all....they must be on pep pills!

Kimi said...

Ryan never did like cleaning. When he came home from his mission his bathroom was so thick with dirt you could write messages in it.

Laurie Jones said...

Bedtime can be stressful. Wait until you have to add homework on top of that. Oh boy.

Have you tried to let one do the baths while the other one cleans up dinner and the toys? I know my kids love to be in the bath for about 15 minutes. I have learned to get a lot done in 15 minutes.

My kids are older, so don't know if this will work for you. I have them pick up all the toys that are on the main floor before we eat dinner. Although I have most of the toys in the basement and they only have to clean that up about twice a week. I can just shut the door and the mess just doesn't exsist. Sounds kinda like Ryan's idea of just putting them under the couch! Ha! Great idea!

And baths every night? When I had three kids that changed to every other night. Also I have been having my kids shower or bathe in the morning. But we have no sleeping in at my house. My kids are early birds.

You have three young kids though, and if I were you I would just be happy I made it through the day. It sounds like you are doing a great job juggling it all!

Karen said...

I was going to give all the same advice as everyone else :o)
You are doing a great job! I think we all have MUCH too high expectations of ourselves... Where do we get our standards? Women, especially mothers, spend way too much time feeling guilty about what they're NOT doing. And not enough time soaking it in. I wish I had spent less time worrying about my dirty kitchen floor when I had babies crawling on it. Nobody died from touching it, and I wish I had just scooped him up a little bit more often. Now he's getting baptized and those days will never come back!
OK, sorry--you got me on a pensive evening :o) You're doing AMAZING!!!

Lois said...

Jen, I don't know, but I do think that raising multiple small children is one of the most physically, emotionally and spiritually trying things we will ever do--and how lovingly/diligently we do it will ripple throughout their lives. (I know, no pressure, huh)
Whenever we see you guys--which isn't often, I know--I'm am always so impressed with how committed you and Ryan are to being good parents.
My advice would be to pray about it. What will work for your family will have to be as individual and unique as the children and challenges within your own home.