It is the first time over visiting a friend, and there it is. Usually displayed almost proudly on the front door or prominently in the entryway, either way it will hit you before you get very far into the house. “Don’t mind the mess, we are making memories…” A warning to let me know they may not be keeping a clean home.
I believe this is meant to be funny, some kind of joke, but I usually take it as a warning. Quickly I start to scan the premises and determine if the mess I am about to be confronted with is real. I have found some people apologize for the mess in their house if one or two things are out of place, others meanwhile will glaze over the fact that there are Cheerio’s ground into their carpet. Most of the time, however, I have found that if one is willing to proclaim to all guests upon entering their home that there just might be a mess, there usually is something that actually constitutes a mess just beyond that threshold.
At the risk of offending someone I am just going to come out with it here… stop it. Just stop it, for heaven’s sake. Or better yet, for your children’s sake.
I am by no means saying that I am a perfect housekeeper. There is a pile of dishes in my sink, I believe there are pretzels on my carpet, the floor needs sweeping, and currently half of our camping gear is strewn across the living room as I prepare for an upcoming camping trip, the bathrooms need a good scrubbing and there is a pile of wet clothes from the pool sitting in a shopping bag on the laundry machine that desperately needs to be taken care of.
However, I try keeping a clean home. I try very hard to keep the house tidy. And I will never plaster my excuses for it not being tidy on the wall as if it were some badge of honor. Personally I think it would be hard to even try and keep a nice house if my excuses were up on the wall where I could read them anytime, a constant reminder to myself that I did not have to try.
Why is this so important though? It is not like having a clean house is the greatest accomplishment I can achieve. Nor is it very fun. Spending time baking cookies, reading books and otherwise having fun with my children seems much more fun. Teaching them to ride bikes, to read and write and the names of all the states seems like it would be more educational, and thus very useful. These things happen in my home, because they are important and fun, but they do not happen all day every day. At some point the house needs to be cleaned and my children are an important part of that.
Keeping a clean home, or at least trying to, is an important lesson for my children. It actually teaches several different lessons at the same time.
Lessons for keeping a clean home
First it teaches my children how to take pride in their own things by taking care of them. If I let the house go it gives the impression that I do not care about it, which will be reflected in how my children then take care of their own things. Pride in ownership is an important lesson to learn.
Building on that then is lesson two, how to treat things that do not belong to them. If they cannot take care of their own belongings how am I to teach them to respect things that do not belong to them? If they borrow something they should return it in good condition, if they go to a friend’s house they should clean up after themselves, and so forth. Teaching them to take care of their own belongings is the first step to building this respect.
Third it teaches them that sometimes you just have to do something, even if you don’t like it. At some point in their life this will happen to them. If they start out by having to do something as painless as cleaning their room or helping set the table they won’t be as shocked and upset when their boss asks them to do some awful mundane task, like filing or cleaning out the grease trap behind the stove. ‘Get used to it kid… life isn’t always going to be fun…’
Fourth, cleaning is just a life skill that everyone should pick up somewhere along the way. I imagine that at some point my children will leave the house and take up residence with someone else, whether that is a dorm roommate, a boyfriend/girlfriend, spouse or even their own children some day. I would like to make things go a little smoother for this other person when the time comes. My child will not be the one that gets complaints because they are generally a pig who does not know how to pick up after themselves.
So I will not create excuses for a dirty house, and I certainly will not paste them on the walls. No instead I will work hard on keeping a clean home as an example to my children, and I will work on including them on the work as well. Hopefully I am molding them into respectful, productive adults. I might not always have the cleanest house on the block and time will only tell what kind of adults my children turn out to be, but at least I will know I am not just falling back on bad sayings.
On that note I am going to go… need to start that load of laundry and maybe fill the dishwasher while I’m at it… will probably grab a toddler to help sort the laundry along the way.
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Tags: clean house