I love my kids. Really, I do. But being a single mom, I have so many things I am responsible for all on my own without constantly cleaning up after everybody. We aren't in sippy cups, get only 1/3 of the food in our mouth stages, they are teenagers. Well, I know I am rushing it, but the youngest is 12 1/2 so I consider him already a teenager. I have one simple rule: JUST CLEAN UP AFTER YOURSELF. They must think I am making it up, but it is a very simple thing. I just spent a lot of time last week getting the house clean, straightened up, armed with drinks and food and snacks for my forever grazing teen children. Seriously, they are bottomless tanks. It is a full time job feeding everybody. I get so irritated when I go to the grocery store and the little 16 year old check out girl looks at me and says, "You must be having a party." Or, "Wow, do you get your monthly groceries at one time?" I look at her for a moment, waiting on the urge to smack her in the head to go away and then lie. I used to say, "No, my kids eat like pro football players and I will probably see you again in 3 days." But, now I just lie. "Yes, we are having a party." "I am having family over for the weekend." "It isn't all mine, I buy for someone else also." I would really like to say, "Are you kidding me? You are a teenager, do you have brothers, a boyfriend, or are you just completely unaware of how much food you hormonal, sleeping people eat?" But, I don't. She is someone else's child and I wouldn't want her mom to scream at my kids that way.
Back to my simple rule, if you just clean up after yourself the house will look at the end of Spring Break just like it does now. They don't believe me. I think my boys are in training for college, because the den ends up looking like a frat house with empty cans all over the coffee table and clothes all over the place. I tried to explain how simple it will be and we won't waste our Spring Break cleaning if they will just follow that one rule. Well, Saturday our 1st day of break, I pulled them in from playing basketball outside (thinking great they just burned off what I just fed them 30 minutes ago) and gave them a tour of their things around the house. They know when I start calling them "You People" I mean business. I guess I have to separate myself from them just a little to take the "mommy will do it for us" out of their heads and swap it to a more "do I know you" tone. I love them I really do. My daughter, I will say, does clean up after herself. She does help me and she does her own laundry. I know it isn't always a gender thing, because I knew girls when I was her age that were messy and boys that were neat freaks. Bless her heart, now if we can just get the frat boys on board to do the same. If not, I may never get them married off. (I really don't want them all married off and away from home, but that may be the only way I get a clean house, unless of course, one has 4 children, gets divorced, then comes back to live with mommmy. It can happen.)