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Too Much Help?

You’re all going to hate me after this post.
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Every Friday night I put the children to bed and clean the bathrooms. I know! (I hope to give you more glimpses into my exciting life, but for professional reasons, I’ll need to dole them out carefully).

When we moved to the suburbs and acquired two more bathrooms, compared with one in the previous house, the only way they would stay clean was a cleaning caddy and a schedule, because that’s how I roll. My four-year-old son went through a phase when he was having trouble going to sleep at night, and was often awake during this time. One night he discovered the magic of the toilet wand, and it was all downhill from there. Suddenly his sister wanted a turn cleaning the next toilet (and I wished we had a third kid so I could clean none), and he wanted to know what this bottle does, what I do with that brush, and followed me to each bathroom asking to help.

Last week my husband was out of town, and I was gearing up for a much anticipated long weekend playing mom. We were all excited and had made plans for The Weekend of Fun, complete with swimming, banana splits, and a trip to a local farm. Our weekends tend to be pretty busy, so I like to start off with a clean house, which is why Friday nights work well for cleaning, and oh yeah, because I work full time during the week. This week I moved it back to Thursday because Friday was the start to my weekend.

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I put the kids to bed, cracked open a beer and started cleaning made one more trip up the stairs in response to, “Mom?” The Boy asked what I was doing and I made the mistake of mentioning I was going to clean the bathrooms. His eyes lit up with excitement, and he asked if he could stay up late to help. Now, I know that Montessori and all of his family members are going to strike me down for writing this, but this one time I just wanted to get it done. I know that raising a helpful child who does not see household duties as gender-specific is very important to me, but this was one chore I had to get done before the Weekend of Fun could begin. I wanted to get it done without a person underfoot asking what that bottle was for, and was it his turn to scrub the toilet. Just this once, I promised him, I was going to do it myself.

Clearly we’ve been successful at that last part, as he’s just as willing to help us sweep the garage, work in the garden, or empty the dishwasher. I did finish my cleaning that evening, but couldn’t help but feel like I had squashed his will a little. And, in my defense it was late, and he needed to be well rested for The Weekend of Fun, which was really fun!

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