I once heard that cleaning with children in the home is like cleaning with a dirty broom, you can never really get one step ahead of the mess - where you move, they move and so does the mess.
Well, I have learned over and over again that this statement is 100 per cent true.
If I am cleaning and the children are not sleeping, then they are following me messing everything I clean.
Sticky little fingers smug the glass I just finished perfectly polishing, the food they are supposed to be eating at their table, magically makes its way onto bedroom floors and the toys I am constantly putting back into the toy box are neatly dispersed down the hall, as if intentionally placed, before I have a chance to even finish the job.
Cleaning in a home with two toddlers seems to be a never-ending job.
However, I have recently acquired some help.
I would love to say that this help was of the professional nature, however that is not the case.
My daughter has decided she too wants to keep our home as clean as possible and is more than eager to pick up the broom, fold some clothes or wipe up all the little messes and dust balls she sees around the house.
As cute as it is that I now have a happy little helper, the messes she is creating while cleaning are actually bigger, and I guess in her eyes, better than the messes she was creating unintentionally.
While sweeping, she tends to either knock something off of anything or hit her brother on the head. While folding laundry, she is more likely to knock over my neatly placed piles than place her un-neatly folded shirt on top of them and while wiping up a mess, she is more likely to knock more food onto the floor than into her tiny knit rag.
At times it is difficult to stay calm while I watch my hard work slowly come apart. However watching her concentrate so intensely on perfectly folding her brother's shorts and then to have her look up at me with a smile that could light a room and say in her adorable little voice, "Mommy I did it. I am the best helper ever, right?" is enough to stop me in my tracks.
Magically all of the anxiety I felt watching the pile of clothes slowly fall to the floor, or the stress that overwhelmed me at the sound of a cry, amazingly disappears and is replaced by a sense of pride.
Not only is she insanely happy and proud of herself, but I am insanely happy and proud as well.
So often we focus on the major milestones, like walking and talking, we overlook the smaller ones, like learning to fold a pair of shorts. Kids don't really care if they have achieved something huge because to them every accomplishment is huge.
What is even more impressive is that she learned something, all by her self, by simply watching me.
Kids truly are little sponges, picking up and learning from our every move. Recently I read an article about a mom who was always rushing her child, until she realized her child was no longer enjoying the simple things in life that she once treasured because she was always trying to keep up with the rest of the family.
When the mom realized her daughter was working harder to be what she thought was expected of her, the mother apologized and made an effort to slow down and focused on appreciating the fact that her daughter took the time to stop and smell the roses, for lack of a better expression, while the rest of the family walked right past them.
Not saying I am going to start making more messes with my kids or anything, but this resonated with me because I realized I was doing the same thing, focusing on the negatives of a situation instead of the positives.
My children may be making messes as I clean, but in those messes are imaginary caves, afternoon adventures, efforts made to help make my life easier and time spent making memories with each other.
Instead of focusing on the mess itself, I have been trying to see past the mess and at the people who made the mess. My point is, I now know to clean while babies sleep. When babies are at play, either join or ignore the mess until later because I will never win that battle. And if all else fails, wait until the hubby gets home - he hates a messy house and will have it cleaned up before I have a chance to say, "I was going to get to that."
Lyndsay McCready can be reached at 306-691-1263 or follow her on Twitter @Newsielou.