Having my mom stay with us four nights a week is doing wonders for my domestic skills. Wait… before you feel sorry for my husband for having his mother-in-law stay with him, don’t. The kitchen and floors and bathrooms have never been cleaned and tidied up this many consecutive days since we moved in almost 10 years ago. The coffee pot is washed every night (along with ALL the dishes) and ready with a 20 oz. mug full of goodness the next morning. Family dinners have been made. The downstairs floors are swept every single day, producing an entire other dog due to the amount of shedding our pugs do. Any idle moment I have I find myself wiping down the counters. Toys get picked up and put away. I am buying health(ier) food and stocking the fridge.

My daughter and I are making great progress after only one day in cleaning up her ‘playroom’ to use as a temporary home for my mom when she stays here. One (hugmungous) bag of trash and three (hugmungous) bags for Goodwill. And that took about an hour or so, even with the baby requiring attention every 9 minutes. What did that get us? A path to swing the door open all the way and half of the closet empty. THAT’S IT. Being that my daughter is a total Oprah , Niecy Nash , Clean Sweep , and Extreme Home Makeover fan, I decided to use this to my advantage. After watching a few videos on the Oprah website on hoarders and home makeovers, and discussing how collecting this much stuff in your home can be a “sickness in someone’s brain” and can keep people from having family and friends over really struck a chord within her. Not only did she display empathy for these folks, but realized that her very own playroom was in just as bad shape as those on TV. I explained to her that it wasn’t very comfortable for Grandma to stay in the guest room as my craft supplies aren’t even fully organized in there yet. There isn’t even a place for clothes to hang since I gutted the closet and took the doors off to make a craft hutch.

Ok, I thought, let’s see if she can actually practice what she preaches. Upstairs we march to tackle the playroom. My goal was 80% trash/Goodwill, 20% keep. She had other plans. Still, the keep pile was tiny, but contained happy meal toys and random naked dolls. I can deal. She knows that after the trash is out and all the bags are taken to Goodwill, we will be purging her keep pile once again. Each time we take a look at an item to be put in the Goodwill bag, I take the time to discuss with her where the item is going (her dress up clothes that are too small for example) and we talk about how happy that may make some little girl who doesn’t have dress up clothes. Shoving junk in a garbage bag is an abstract idea for a kid and talking it through really makes her understand that the stuff just doesn’t disappear, but may make the life of another kid more fun. I have not even begun to dive into the explanation of what happens to the stuff in the trash bag (can you say 1000 year decomposition lifecycle?)

Her reward? (No, don’t bitch that I’m bribing my kid to clean up her own stuff. She’s *6* and I’m essentially trashing 90% of her personal belongings even though she doesn’t treat them with respect or even play with most of them.) We are converting our ‘formal’ living room into a gaming & media center / kids hangout and her reward will be a new chair just for her and a new (big) toy. Fair enough, I think.

End result: we’ve started a mini video diary of our efforts, just like on TV. She’s really excited about having our own ‘home makeover’ show. No word yet if I’m brave enough to post the video to the ‘net. We’ve got to get cracking, since my mom isn’t here over the weekends (Hello? What the hell happened to my free childcare and date night with my husband?) and I really want to surprise my mom with a new room when she comes back on Sunday night. Wish us luck. Or a magic cleaning fairy.

[tags]cleaning, goodwill, home makeover, playroom[/tags]