It’s winter. I know this because I am constantly hiding under a blanket, and the chances of my kids going to school have diminished significantly. No one wants to play outside in this bitter cold, even with the lure of fresh snow, and our house seems smaller. So much smaller.
Days inside with my family can be wonderful. We quietly read books, the kids are entertained with their new Christmas toys, and I have made and frozen more soup than my freezer can handle. Future me will love all of the easy dinner options waiting for busy days when I don’t have time to cook, or if that nasty bug that’s going around finally hits our home, we’ll have hot, soothing soup on hand that just needs reheating.
I really do enjoy a snow day, but after a while, we grow weary of these quiet tasks. There are only so many video games that I feel comfortable letting my children play, and the same goes for the television they love so much.
At times like this, I get creative. Our home wears the tell-tale signs of a mother who doesn’t love to clean, and children who adore making messes, and sometimes it gets to be too much. My kids will cheerfully vacuum, dust, and empty the dishwasher, but only if they’re in the mood. If they aren’t, we make a game of it.
My four-year-old likes to sweep, but our regular broom is too bulky for her. I have taken a few of the sections off of the handle of our Swiffer sweeper, making it the perfect size for her to push around the house, picking up dust and dog hair from the flat floor surfaces. She loves it, and gets so excited to see all of the gunk on the microfiber pad when she’s done, which is always plentiful.
We ice skate around the hardwood floors, the kids wearing old tube socks that are now dust rags on their feet, and the floor wet with a vinegar and water cleaning solution. They run and slide, they spin and scoot, and I follow behind with a larger, more absorbent cloth to catch the many spots they miss.
For basic tasks that are hated by the kids, like picking up toys and putting away laundry, my husband says, “I’ll bet you can’t get all of your books picked up in two minutes.” If that doesn’t work, he’ll pit the kids against each other. “Whoever is finished putting their clothes away first wins!”
Wins what? Nothing, but it doesn’t matter. Bragging rights are as good as gold around here.
Cleaning isn’t always fun, but it doesn’t have to be dull, either. My four-year-old still needs help getting excited about chores, but her six-year-old brother understands that just doing the task without complaint means he can go back to playing with his Legos, or maybe if he’s lucky, and extra game of Super Mario Brothers.