When you look through “Better Homes and Gardens” you never see messy rooms.  There’s a reason for that.  Clean and organized is beautiful.  Messy is not.  I like beauty.  I like rooms that are clean and organized.  I also like my boys.  Boys and beautiful rooms don’t often go together in the same sentence.  I have always tried to emphasize cleanliness and organization to D and P.  When they were little cleaning up followed pretty much every activity we did.  If we played a game, we finished by cleaning up.  That way all the pieces of the game stayed with the game and we could enjoy it again another time.  When we baked, we finished by cleaning up.  That way there was room on the table to eat whatever goody we had made.  When we drew, we cleaned up.  That way the markers didn’t dry out and we could find all the colours we wanted the next time we felt like drawing.  I always gave them good reasons for cleaning up because I wanted them to internalize the value of it.

Something went wrong somewhere.  As long as I am there directing the tidying, it happens without problem.  The boys know better than to fight me.  A couple minutes of cleaning up is way better than a lot more time of consequences for refusing to obey.  D and P are older now.  They do a lot of things independently.  That’s good.  I rejoice in it.  What saddens me and sometimes angers me is that they haven’t internalized cleaning up.  All kinds of things get left laying around which causes all kinds of problems – injuries, stuff getting lost, things getting broken, a mom who is frustrated.  The last one is the biggest problem.  If mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy.  The boys don’t like it when I’m upset.  I don’t like it either.  I keep letting them know that there is something easy they can do to help me be the happy mother they desire – CLEAN UP!

It is slow to sink in.  Having them home all day has wreaked havoc on the home.  In a bid to control my mounting frustration with them, I have instituted manditory clean up after supper.  Every night for fifteen minutes, they have to work in their rooms or in the room of my choosing while the timer ticks.  Mean ol’ ma is there watching and directing and the consequences are heavy iffen the tidyin’ don’t git done to my likin’ .  No T.V., no computer, no books (they asked about that one), no nothin’ until I see them working hard at cleaning up.  It’s amazing what two young men can get done in so little time when so much is at stake.  Will it sink in?  Cleaning up isn’t hard and it improves the quality of our lives.  Less time is spent looking for things which leaves more time for enjoying things.  Fewer things get lost or busted which means fewer dollars have to be spent on replacing things.  That leaves more moulah for fun things.  Mama walks around after clean up time with a smile on her face instead of a scowl.  See?  Cleaning up is a good idea.  Can you tell what I’m saying the whole time they are heaving and hauling and finding suitable homes for their possessions?  Maybe if I explain it enough times a light will go on and they’ll just clean up automatically without the taskmaster glaring over them.  That can happen, right?  Tell me I haven’t wasted the last thirteen years of my life.  Tell me that I won’t ship out two pigs to unsuspecting wives.  Tell me I can have boys and a beautiful home and live to tell about it.

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