I’m talking to my son in the living room. He is almost finished with an apple. I finish our conversation by saying he may play outside. He exclaims joyfully, drops the finished apple, and darts out the door. He did this, you see, because he was done with it. And that is where he was standing. Overwhelmed by the glorious prospect of playing in our amazing concrete yard, how could he possibly think to put it anywhere else?
Yes, I yelled him back and made him put it away after explaining again to him that he is a human being and slinging other accusatory rhetorical questions about barns, zoos, barbarians, etc.
So that is my eight-year-old. Among my children, I also have two other small people who strew random items about the house because it is actually still developmentally appropriate.
And that is why, just two hours after a very thorough (semi-annual) housecleaning, my bedroom alone will have on the floor: a kitchen strainer, an oven mitt, a hairbrush, a variety of toys, the ever-present scattering of legos, and most of my underwear (I have a low drawer).
Enter, the broom. No longer for dirt alone, the broom is now the universal symbol of “Mom is throwing away my stuff!” Now, I have hardwood (a.k.a. dirty and loud) floors, but my friend with carpet uses a garden rake for the same purpose. It goes as follows:
- Pick up my own stuff I want to keep (like underwear)
- Get the broom and loudly announce, “Ah, there is a lot of garbage on this floor, it’s time to sweep it up!”
- Kids come running to frantically salvage their treasures out of the dust bunnies, yelling accusingly, “MOM, that’s NOT trash!”
- And I, sweeping slowly, with the pleasant, blank look of a pod person, explain: “But honey, this stuff is on the floor, it must be garbage.”
- I give them just enough time to save their goods before scooping the appalling amount of sand, dust and unwanted toys into the dustpan and off to the trash.
This does several things for me:
- I don’t have to bend over and pick them up, ensuring that I don’t accidentally burn any unnecessary calories.
- I’m quickly able to discern the staggering amount of toys my kids have and don’t care about, thus persuading me to buy less for the landfills.
- It reminds my children that if it is on the floor, pod-mom thinks it’s garbage, so maybe they should put things where they go. (I just imagine this last one)
- When no one is home to claim junk, and I’m fed up with the floor situation, I sometimes just sweep it all into a pile in the corner, just to give the rest of the room that tidy, fresh, not-covered-in-garbage look.
So, that’s how I solve the floor chaos for just a brief moment in time. Although the savage broom doesn’t solve the apple situation–unless I use it as a paddle!