Saturday, January 01, 2005

Cheryl's HouseKeeping Tips of the Day

Yesterday I had a phone call from a friend with a daughter who has 8 children. I was informed that I was a role model because her goal in life is to have at least 12. Her eldest is 12 years old, and considering that she is younger than I, and only 4 kids behind me, I'd say she is well on her way.

One of the things she asked was if I had any tips to pass along. I mentioned the importance of training children to do housework from an early age so that they learn to keep house for when they are older, and mother doesn't become the household drudge for everyone. (I believe mothers are to train their children, and part of that training is to teach them how to live in the real world, which does not involve having mother there to clean up after you for the rest of your life.) The system we finally worked out was to have the children each do one chore and then rotate to a new job the next day. Older children, who are more competent at their work through practice, are interspersed with younger children who are less competent. This works better than assigning a child one job for the week or month because this way, if a job isn't done well on one day, the next child who comes along can make up for it (theoretically). You only have to suffer with a poorly done job for a day as opposed to a week or a month, and the tendency to nag the less competent lessens.

One thing I am picky about, besides how my laundry is done, is the state of my floors. We have oak hardwood floors in the downstairs which has the fashionable "stressed" and "antiqued" look from all the wear and tear that hordes of children can cause. That doesn't bother me. What does bother me is when it is dirty, as in clutter, dust, and sticky jam marks and hot cocoa spills. This means that the floor is swept several times a day, and usually washed at least every two days. (We have messy eaters in this house.) A few months ago I went out and bought myself one of those Swiffer wet mops that has the bottle of solution in it and a button to press to squirt it out on the floor ahead of where you are going to mop. A pad is attached to the bottom and it catches all the dirt. It's a very nice system which has eliminated the need for a mop and bucket which usually gets knocked over and spilled by the baby.

Unfortunately, these mops are designed for two people households in small apartments where the wear and tear is likely to be a lot less than what is seen in a household of 11. Not only that, if you buy the solution bottles and the special pads that are to be used with them, the cost can add up quickly, which in my mind negates the benefits. The velcro pads on the bottom of the Swiffer also come off easily. It is such a nice system, though, I didn't want to give it up, so here's what I did: With a large vice grip I was able to remove the top of the special solution bottle and now refill it with water and a heavy duty degreaser solution. The bottle is now able to be used multiple times. I also got some better velcro and not only attached it with a glue gun to the bottom, but also placed strips on the top. Instead of buying the expensive cleaning pads for the bottom, I got some terry cloth shop rags that stick quite nicely to the velcro, and now I have washable floor pads that do a better job at cleaning the floor than any mop I ever had. All in all, I am quite pleased with myself and the results, and the kids like mopping the floor this way too.

Just as an aside, this all seems too too trivial and mundane and ridiculous in the face of the tsunami aftermath.

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