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Dirty dishes, happy kids

My house is a mess.

My parents' house is always clean. My brother's house is always clean. My house is always dirty.

The expression "messy floors, dirty dishes, happy kids" is comforting to me. I have seen it on signs and cards. It resonates, although sometimes I wonder why the house has to be so messy for the children to be so happy. And there is a point where the house becomes so messy that the children are not happy. There must be a balance to this that I have not reached.

I try to incent the children to clean up after themselves. I try to incent their dad to do the same. Inevitably I try to clean up the mess that is my kitchen after the children are in bed or before the children get up. I like it when the kitchen is tidy but some days I prefer sleep more.

My parents have installed hooks and cubbies in our house which has improved the situation. I pay for a cleaning lady to come in once a week and cannot tell you how much I enjoy coming into the house after she has been there for the day, if only to savour for a brief period of time the tidiness and cleanliness she has achieved. It lasts but a moment.

As I try to find a balance between a perfectly clean house and a pig sty, I will continue to rationalize that my messy house and dirty dishes is resulting in more time spent with the children and thus them being happier. Dirty dishes, happy kids...?

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