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The Unexpected Joy Of Cleaning With My Teenager

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I know all you moms with teenagers can understand the dread of housecleaning day. Since my daughter was able to start picking up her own toys, we’ve cleaned house on Sundays. It’s our day. The day to prepare for the week: get laundry, dusting, vacuuming, toilets scrubbed, floors washed, sheets changed on the beds, housecleaning, crank up the tunes, day. A day we spend working together, just the two of us accomplishing a life task.  I break the types of house cleaning into two groups: “Heavy duty house cleaning” and “Tidy up housework.” Tidy up, of course, is just pick up clutter, sweep and vacuum, clean toilets, make beds. You can imagine my daughter being ecstatic about the tidy up day… and when she was younger her questions were so cute, “Mom, what do you want me to do?”

But now that she’s 16, I stare at her in awe when she asks, like, “Really? Are you new? The same things we do EVERY Sunday! Take a look around, clean something. Put something away. Dust, vacuum, clean the cat box, put the dishes away… Have you looked in your bathroom lately? I’m sure there is something growing behind the toilet…maybe clean it?  And yes, I will break out the white glove.” As much as she drives me crazy I keep remembering that this time together is short. There’s a truly unexpected joy that comes from cleaning with my teenager…

cleaning with teenager

The Unexpected Joy Of Cleaning With My Teenager

And then I look over to see her on her cell phone texting someone or Facebooking. Ohhhhhh, sweet Jesus…that sets off a deep seeded anger that I have to intentionally focus on counting down. “Put the phone down and clean something, or I will break it.” ….I know, I know, I’m a mean mom, but it works… stuff gets done. But, this day is set aside for us, not play-time but mother daughter bonding over the feeling of accomplishment when we’re finished.

I can’t tell you the amount of times we’ve had the conversation about helping around the house. We all live here, I’m not the only one who wears all the clothes, uses the toilets, eats the food.. We can all work together to get it done. Like it or not, it’s got to be done. Blah blah blah…she’s heard it a million times.

Sometimes I have to question whether she’s listening though…. Am I the only one who has yet to teach my child to put her clothes in the dirty clothes hamper? They’re ALWAYS stacked on her bathroom floor…and you know who picks them up? Not me, no…shockingly, her dad. I simply refuse. I figure when she has nothing to wear she’ll wash her clothes, or wear dirty ones and be the stinky kid in school….either way, her choice…until her Dad comes to the rescue and throws them in the hamper for her and, in turn, I wash them. But there are those times when I turn around and she’s putting dishes away or cleaning the mirrors in the bathroom without me asking and I think to myself, there we go…what a good kid. I might be doing something right.

Now, after all I’ve told you, this may seem a tad bit unbelievable, but my daughter is a perfectionist. For instance, you know where the toilet attaches to the floor? Hard to get to, funky knob that covers the screw into the floor? It can get NASTY! That’s a huge pet peeve if that doesn’t get cleaned every time you scrub the toilet…EVERY TIME!…and she knows it. She knows not to dust around stuff but under it..(Yes, pick it up, move it, dust and then put stuff back.) She’s pretty much got my routine and standards down, which I can thank my own Mother for handing down to me. “Thanks Mom!” My mother also made cleaning fun, when the music is cranked up we would stop mid cleaning and dance to a favorite song and I have passed that little bit of fun onto my daughter as well. That’s always been a good memory that I hope will be for her as well, because face it…no one likes to clean, but people generally like to dance.

Now if I have made it sound like I’m complaining about my generally helpful teenager, I want to make it clear: I know I’ve got it good. I know some mothers have to pull teeth just to get their kids to clean their room and then there are piles of rotten food under the bed, dirty socks stuck to the ceiling…normal teenage room type stuff (that was mine when I was a teen). Then there is my compliant (for the most part) and helpful teenager.

It comes down to this: I’m not cleaning my grown child’s house when she moves out. So, hopefully I’m teaching her that a clean house is just nice to be in. I want her to have a happy life, and this one thing can be part of what gives her that.

Plus even if it’s just cleaning house it’s still nice to be around my daughter.

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