Tuesday, May 17, 2011

they aim high while keeping their standards low

The other day I was wiping down the bathroom, a regular job with 3 sons. Their enthusiasm for indoor peeing is high, as is their aim it would seem. I had almost finished when the phone rang, for me of course, so I answered it. On my return I passed Mr. G in the hall, running for the Wii game he'd paused. I turned the corner to smell urine--again--yet I had just cleaned the bathroom. Closer inspection revealed a fresh puddle by the toilet and yellow water in the bowl.

Yesterday I helped get bedrooms tidied so I could run a vacuum. Last night I climbed the stairs to tuck in my crew and opened Mr. G's bedroom door. He had taken the money from Life and Payday and scattered it everywhere. His room was clean for as long as he was at school for the day. Not a second longer.

I keep doing the same thing over and over again--tidying up after these knuckleheads, reminding them to brush their teeth, wear socks, finish homework. They can't go to the bathroom, eat or get dressed without leaving a mess in their wake and I'm so damn weary trying to keep a clean house. They wreck their toys and my furniture without a second thought. I never buy them trinkets or treats or favors because they have no regard nor does their appreciation last long until they're begging for more--bottomless pits. All three of 'em. Motherhood is a thankless task, full of boring repetition and my only reward it seems is when they show love because they want something else.

I didn't have kids because I want them to be happy. Heck, I didn't even have kids under the delusion that they'd make me happy. I had them because I thought I could raise good people and lately I feel like I'm failing.

The only question is whether to scream my head off at them or weep uncontrollably. Something's got to change here, but I can't figure out what--or how.

Only condolences and sound advice, reader. That's all I'm up for today.


  1. Oh gosh, I know how you feel. It's an endless battle and I'm outnumbered. I'll be picking up while 3 are taking out. Hugs to you. I'd post a picture of how trashed my house is to make you feel better, but I'm too embarrassed.

  2. On the pee - make them start cleaning it up. With a toothbrush, if you need to. Aiming is a basic social necessity. (Of course, my 19 yr old can't aim either. but the other two can.)

    I remember when I caught my oldest drawing on the walls with a crayon for the 3rd time. I made him scrub it off. "Mom, this is HARD!" You bet - keep scrubbing. No more crayon on the walls!

    I think a sorting session with the money is coming up. And games being put away.

    I'm just sayin'.

  3. Poor lady. I totally feel your pain, even with only one boy.

    Any chance you can go out tonight. by yourself, and sit and read quietly somewhere with a nice cup of tea or glass of wine? You deserve it. And your boys really ARE great. They're just kids, and boys to boot. They'll get better, and your reward will be the day their SOs thank you for raising them so well.

  4. I agree with "Crazy Mom"....make them clean it up. They realize how gross it is to clean up their own body gunk when they are forced to. I haven't had to do this with Kitty yet, but my mom would stand over us like a dictator making sure that the job was done. NO fun until it was. My folks were also big fans of taking things way. You caon't hang up your clothes? It got hidden. Can't pick up your outdoor toys? THey go in the attic. Life sucked for awhile....and then we figured it out.

    Hugs to you. If you want, come escape tonight and cuddle with the baby girl...she's always good for some feel good snugging. :)

  5. Make 'em clean their own bathroom. If you find a mess, make them stop whatever they're doing, no matter how inconvenient it is, and make them take care of the mess.

    When I find messes like the game money, I give my girls a fixed amount of time to pick up or else the junk goes in the trash. (Or, in the case of the paper money, recycling bin.)

    When laundry ends up on the floor, the girls get one warning and then the clothing ends up in the donation pile. Frankly, at 10 and 12, they shouldn't need reminders, so I feel like I'm mollycoddling them a bit.

  6. I am here to tell you...You will survive!

    I also did the "Toys on vacation" intervention. If I continually found it on the floor, it went into the box in my closet. The Barbies and the Ninja Turtles were "on vacation to a house where someone cared to put them away"

    I also agree that they should be taking part in cleaning up their bathroom scum. Most of the time I thought it was easier to clean up myself than to nag them to do it, but Sorority Girl was the only one of her dorm suite residents that even KNEW how to clean a toilet. She said "GEESH MOM, didn't anyone ever teach them how to clean a bathroom???"

  7. No advice here. I have inconsiderate pigs and all I ever do is yell at them. Sadly, they have a huge tolerance for nasty bathrooms (I shouldn't be surprised, I saw DOTR's bathroom in college so I know they come by it naturally...their gross-o-meter is totally out of whack compared to mine).

    Now, back to the basement, aka Teenage Boy Pit of Filth. I'm trying to clean it. Trying being the operative word.

  8. The toy vacation thing worked well for us as well, when Emma was younger. Sometimes it's so hard to decide if you'd rather be tired from cleaning up after them, or tired from the battle that will inevitably ensue when you start making them do it themselves. I know that making them do it is better in the long run, but I have to admit I often just do the picking up, even now.

    Thank god my husband can be a real task-master about stuff like this --I think Emma has learned most of her good habits from having him around!

  9. This, too, will pass.

    & imagine yourself telling them in the future what colossal slobs they used to be. Telling them you almost considered having them scrub the floor with a toothbrush! *haha! & think of Joan Crawford and the wire hangers and just laugh it off...cleanliness may be next to godliness, sure, but PATIENCE and love (kids? they are kids.) could make a saint of you...

  10. Endless Battle!!! I regularly comment that our house looks like a dirty bomb went off...seriously, the wake our 3 leave in their path is ridiculous! And the pee everywhere, don't get me started!!! I am so glad (ha) that mine aren't the only ones who destroy things and not think twice about it....I can't figure it out and it makes me CRAZY!

    Sorry..no wise words of advice, just I'm right there with ya!

  11. My condolences. I am not quite there yet, having only one girl. I have been told that there are special stickers available that you can stick in the toilet. Apparently the aim improves if there's something to aim at.

  12. I heard of a mom who posted a sign in the bathroom: "It's a shame you can't aim!"

  13. P.s. check your Email, Greenie!

    and to you other mothers: head games like hiding toys and destroying toys and clothing? ...really? do y'all really think that sort of thing works, or do you just get a kick out of finally getting to pull the same sh!t on a kid that your parents pulled on you...?

    Playing "tricks" on children is for other children to do.

  14. I feel your pain on this. I am not a neatnik by any stretch of the imagination. But having to spend my time cleaning up the kids' messes over and over is no way to live a life. I have great sympathy for you! I would join Ilyanna in recommending that first you go out by yourself. Get away, get relaxed and get fortified. As soon as school is out, make your attack, whatever form it takes. Chore charts with regular assignments is what I did. For us, I split the bathroom chores into three parts. Each of my 3 kids does one of the chores each week. For the first month or so I had to stand over them and instruct them exactly what to do. But I did not do the work myself. At first I would withhold privileges until the chores were done. It takes a lot of our (us Moms') time and energy to teach kids how to do their fair share in the household but it definitely pays off in the long run. Our house does not qualify as neat and clean, but the bathroom is not a urine pit.

  15. That could have been my boys you wrote about. I think they'd be perfectly happy living in a dirty house. When I do clean, I'm always yelling at them to keep it clean and it never stays clean for long, especially their bathroom. Notice I say 'their', I do not use that bathroom ever.

  16. This post almost made me bawl. I have been at this point so many times. And many times recently. The fact that my boys can not play in the backyard right now doesn't help. Or outside at all, thanks to the freaking nonstop rain.
    It is constant madness around here. I've started telling them that they will not be getting anymore birthday or Christmas presents because they break everything after 5 minutes. I've never seen anything like it. And the MESS! My God. I feel like I am constantly nagging the boys to pick up their crap. I don't want to be a nag, but I also can't keep up with it all if I don't nag.

    If the boys don't pick up their toys the toys get taken away. BUT, they don't seem to care. If I make them clean up the messy bathroom then they get it ALL OVER THEMSELVES and make my clean up job even worse. And the wrestling!!! I can't tell you how many lamps and tables have been knocked over with them wrestling. Boys are CRAZY. And no one will understand unless they have three boys (close in age) too.

    Sometimes I wonder why God gave me three boys. I know they are an incredible blessing but man sometimes I think I am being punished for something. ;) I don't know if I'm going to make it to see them as adults (or if they'll make it either).

    It is times like these when I try to focus on how beautiful my boys are (mostly when they are sleeping) and how funny they can be and lucky I am to have them. I just gotta focus. ;)

    Hang in there, mama!

  17. I have 7 children. by the time they were 7-8 they were helping clean house, every day they helped put away the toys. was it a pain to make them do it? yes.

    if they didn't clean their rooms, it didn't get done and they had to live in the mess. my girls - 6 had to share rooms. sister peer pressure help.

    by they time they were 10, they were doing their own laundry. each pair of girls had their own day to do it.

    and outside chores too. chickens, calves, milking.

    when our son started getting old enough - he was the baby, he was taught, just like the girls were "you make a mess, you clean it up."

    is it hard work? yes, but my kids know how to clean a house, including the bathroom. how to cook and how to raise respectable children.

    best of luck with your 3. why not have dad step in and tell the boys, "don't make a mess, respect your mom and do it right."

  18. I TOTALLY hear you! I must say that after getting onto my boys over and over and over about peeing indiscriminately, I now have them clean their own bathroom, and it's made a WORLD of difference. I have to check up on them and even sometimes go over it when they're done, but they get the sponge and the Method cleaner and wipe off all the toothpaste spray and use a Clorox wipe to search out all the little spots the pee went that it wasn't supposed to.

    And everytime they start to get really messy...I pull them in on another chore. :) (that's an evil grin). Good luck!

  19. Oh, boy, the joys of boys.
    On HGTV the other night we saw a program where a guy had a home urinal installed and there was a small bee (as in bumble) decal pasted on the 'direct hit' area. Could you try something like this to make it a game?
    I do like the idea of "Toys on Vacation" which means after a reasonable cleanup time if it's not one, you put them away for a while. Good luck and this too shall pass!

  20. Oh my. I can totally relate. I find myself constantly saying "There is only one of me and I just can't humanly keep up with three of you." I know I should make them clean up after themselves, and sometimes I do. But while I am following through with one, the other two are causing a disaster somewhere else. For example, while I made one of them wipe down the outside of the jam and peanut butter jars and put them away along with the rest of the bread and the knife, one was getting out every blessed Lego we own and the other was spreading school supplies all over the dining room. Lord knows how much mischief two could have caused if I had gotten involved with the Lego cleanup! I wish I had an answer for you, but short of everyone going naked for two weeks and you all eating three meals a day at a restaurant, I just don't think it is possible to ever get on top of it all.

  21. I feel the same way. And my husband is the worst one of the bunch. And now it is nearly 1:00am and I am up waiting for a wayward daughter to come home.

    I hope you feel happier tomorrow.

  22. Aaaagh! Poor you, you KNOW I'm totally with you here!

    My sarcastic "Directions For Use" sign did improve matters in the loo a lot, although Sam still has trouble with his aim. Sam's main chore is cleaning the bathroom, and I think it's making him a little more careful. I saw him wiping the seat the other day!!!!!!

    My husband doesn't help, he leaves the seat up and the boys get WORSE and MESSIER when he is around, but if your hubby is vaguely tidy maybe you could ask him to talk to them? Or, get a maid. Seriously. You could be working on your novel, and you're cleaning up pee? I had a maid when I was working, and the MINUTE I start making money again freelancing, I'm getting someone to come in once a week to dust and clean. Seriously. A few dollars towards serenity and a clean house is absolutely allowed. Reduce the boys' allowance to help pay, HA!

  23. Oof, the diaper stage isn't as bad as I thought ;-).

    I'm not into trinkets over here either, but they somehow accumulate without help! My trick - every night before we go to bed we spend 15 minutes running through the house doing an I-spy clean up. We start in the hall by the door and everybody has to grab their own stuff and run it to the place it lives. We work through the house (handily small) and the winner of the race is the person who has managed to remove/pickup/put away all of his or her loose possessions. Somehow making it a race and an I-spy game makes it more redeemable to the kids. Music helps too.

  24. I feel the lack of appreciation around our place too. It is a thankless role, but know you would be GREATLY missed if you weren't there! The only thing I've found that works so far is the favorite toys go missing for a few days until my point gets across. I guess it's the only way they know that Mom means Business!

  25. When the youngest of our four children started first grade we started a system where every child received a "stipend" twice a month to live on. This money was to be used to purchase clothes, school supplies, presents and for entertainment that was done outside the family unit. Plus all the chores in the house were split up and rotated. One week one child cleaned the kids' bathroom, while the other one was in charge of unloading the dishwasher, another one did the hand washing, etc. On top of that, they all started doing their own wash at a fairly young age. This made them very aware of taking care of their property and my property (couches, chairs, lamps) because they knew how much things cost. No one wanted to mess up the bathroom because it was such a pain to clean and if someone else messed it up, they let them know about it. This system worked amazingly well. The kids are so grateful for everything I do for them or that we cover for their expenses but they really never ask for anything. It eliminated all begging from shopping trips because they could buy whatever they chose to buy but had to suffer the consequences if they ran out of money before they ran out of month (no trip to the movies with their friends or whatever). It's hard to stick with this but so worth it. Hang in there!(BTW - all the kids were working outside the home by age 15 to earn to supplement their stipend and consequently all four earned college scholarships and paid half their tutition out of pocket for private universities, so this carried on as they grew up.)

  26. Hugs! I"m in the same boat every single long, long day!

  27. I have glitter from a new skating dress all over the bathroom. I'm feeling pretty good about that considering the leavings of boys vs girls.
    That said, a friend with three boys recently visited. The potty pee puddle didn't phase me, but I'm pretty sure that's because it was not my kid's pee AND I only had to clean it up one time. (His mother was HORRIFIED.)

  28. I would try taking everything you find out and stick it in a trash bag. By the time they have nothing they might start to catch on.

    I agree with the advice to make them clean--and make them keep coming back until the job is done right. I have called my kids at their friend and made them come home to clean something again if they did a half-*ssed job.

    The key is to just be matter of fact, take deep breaths and let the consequences be natural ones.

    If you follow this advice they will STILL drive you crazy, but just not as often!

  29. I am right there with you, Green Girl.

    3 boys is about 2 1/2 too many somedays. They are loud and smelly and love to pee everywhere but where they should.

    It seems like we're running on a treadmill, never to reach our destination.

    But - and this might be some decent advice here - listen to them when they think you're not in earshot, when they are talking with their friends or even each other. You will hear them say things that ring of the wisdom you have been imparting. You will hear them say things like, "hey, let's take turns," or "use your words when you're angry" or something that you have said 1000 times to them. It may surprise you, but they are getting it.

    Big picture here - they still don't know how to put dirty socks down the laundry chute or how to put a plate in the dishwasher, but they are getting those important life lessons. They know how to take care of each other.

    Believe it in - and when it seems too hard to believe, grab a glass of wine and give in to the chaos.

  30. Ugh, I battle EVERY DAY. Really, EVERY single day. It's so tiring. And my pleas go unanswered: Think of how I feel after having cleaned one day and then I come home and it's a mess again before I even get home from work...
    It's like children can't comprehend ANYTHING.

    I do make my son wash around the toilet area, but he doesn't seem to really care. What should be a deterrent is now just something he has to do every couple days. It's absurd. Kids are absurd.

  31. If you figure it out please let me know. I just shut the doors and try not to look at it. Of course that doesn't last very long. right now my laundry room smells like something died. I am not sure if there is an animal in there under all the clothes and shoes.

    If they want something new, they have to buy it with their own money. (Which is probably, of course, my money.


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