Somewhere along the line our family adopted the tradition of spring cleaning during Holy Week. In our home this typically means we clean the usual areas on the usual day, but more thoroughly than we would on a normal week.
To prepare the mudroom we moved all of the shoes, boots, and coats to the kitchen floor.
Seven people wear this many shoes?
The benches were moved to the garage and wiped off.
They loved the empty space. Hey - if we lived in San Diego maybe our mudroom would be empty and clean?
The runners were rolled up, taken outside, shaken, and beaten with a large stick (the kids loved that part). Floors and baseboards were cleaned, cubbies wiped off, and everything put back neatly.
On kitchen day, the kids were allowed to stand on the center island and dining table to wipe the light fixtures. Select cabinets were emptied and the kids wiped them out. If they could fit inside, all the better!
Today was family room day. We squished all the furniture, books, and toys into the dining area so we could vacuum, roll up the rug, and clean the floor. If you are a mom, you know how kids love an empty room. Hence the dancing to Animaniacs.
After a long break which included a picnic lunch on the floor, the wood furniture pieces were polished and everything moved back, but in a more open arrangement instead of the "hunker down in front of the fireplace" position.
The family room is just barely 13 x 13, so we have to make the most of the space we have.
Many hands make light work, isn't that whay they always say?
Older kids can be a HUGE help with spring cleaning, and having them around to learn practical skills of daily living is a blessing to me and to them (though they don't know it yet). Yet, I found that the kids pushed back when it came to working diligently - unless I let them be wild and crazy and have a ton of fun. If my management style slipped into default mode (a la Miss Hannigan), they would not cooperate one bit and I found myself barking and looking around for my Panic Pete.
To be fair - I'd say my eldest worked the most diligently and seriously. See how she is dusting while the others frolic?
Kids about to turn 13 have outgrown the silly romp around phase. Sad, but true.
Plus, she's old enough to see right through the tactics employed in the authorship of The Country Bunny. She knows why I began the day by reading this book!
Is this not one of your favorite books?
My two favorite parts of this all time favorite Easter classic are:
1) when the Grandfather compliments the bunny mother on the way her children hold up their ears so prettily, and
2) just before she begins to train them in on housework, "Now we are going to have some fun!"
Somehow, Mother Bunny makes housework seem like fun even to my kids, although they say they would gladly take the jobs of singing and dancing and making everything merry while everyone else worked.
The thing is - this bunny mom is amazing. Not only is she wise, kind, and swift, her long rabbit feet magically shrink to fit the golden shoes! The most amazing thing? She trained her children to run the house in her absence. Better than she could do herself.
She reminds me of another amazing mother, Marmie of Little Women, who spent her days volunteering for the war effort, confident that her children were striving to do their best at home in her absence.
Yet another amazing mom comes to mind - St. Gianna. Her heroic story always puts that question smack dab in front of me: what would happen to my children and husband if I died? How would they get on if I chose death to give life to another? I sense that she knew she had relatives she could trust, and finances to hire help, but what would my family do? Could my children run our home in my absence? Although I try not to fear death, or let this fear be the motivating factor in the training of my children, I have to admit that fear is buried deep within. Sort of like Sarah's umbrella post. Now that I have the responsibility of five children, I find it more difficult to take risks and lose control.
Most of the time I just want to be like the Country Bunny - not do anything too risky, just able to make noble contributions outside the home every now and then, as long as my activities do not detract from my primary vocation. And to contribute, not in spite of having so many kids at home, but because the kind of kids I have raised are trustworthy to manage things while I am away.
While marvelling at The Country Bunny's twenty-one children, one more amazing mom came to mind: Michelle Duggar. Is she not the ultimate Country Bunny? We caught a new episode on TV last night and the Country Buuny immediately came to mind. Both have a small army of capable helpers.
All too often, my own five children do not seem like nearly enough help to handle the plethora of tasks I face in a given day. Take this morning when the older kids were cleaning their rooms, I was trying to make eggs and pancakes, but nothing was going right for my little guy. No one could figure out what he wanted. I usually just squat down and hug him, but he was inconsolable.
Times like these I sure wished I had another child or two free to help. Maybe nineteen kids would actually free us up to do more - I mean the Duggars ventured to Asia and we have not even taken our kids out of the central time zone!
To sum up this rambling post: Many hands make light work! Many hands, and cheerful hearts. Even wild and crazy hearted kids who would rather sing and dance and make everything merry while everyone else does the hard work!
Have a blessed Holy Week. I promise I'll be quiet now until Monday!