A Brief Explanation of Why My House Always Looks Terrible

6:30 a.m. – Alarm clock rings. Swing my legs over the side of the bed and seven stuffed animals tumble to the floor. What the what? Notice sandy-blonde mop of hair amongst the blankets. Bed hijacked by Charlie AND stuffed animals in the middle of the night. Wonder how in the world he is cogent enough at 3:00 a.m. to carry them all.

6:32 a.m. – Arrive in kitchen to make coffee which is the salve of my soul. Am greeted by pile of dirty dishes in sink that would not fit into the dishwasher after last night’s meal. Have no idea where all of the dishes come from. Wonder if we have extra tenants I am unaware of? Pledge to never again judge those people who have two dishwashers in their kitchen as “just showing off.”

7:17 a.m. – Throw clothes at the boys and tell them to change in the family room so they won’t wake up their sister by going upstairs. Discarded pajamas, socks and slippers now cover most surfaces.

7:25 – Four-year-old is demanding breakfast. Eight-year-old is begrudgingly willing to consume Cheerios but only if they don’t get too soggy because: milk. Pile of dirty dishes in sink continues to grow.

7:39 a.m. – Millie is awake! She walks downstairs dragging a sleeping bag behind her. I… have no idea where she got it. Must get Henry to bus stop so have no time to investigate.

7:45 a.m. – Back from bus stop and promptly trip over discarded sleeping bag in foyer.

7:47 a.m. – Millie is asking for Breakfast #1 (of approximately three). She has aided this process by removing several food containers from the pantry and depositing them on the kitchen floor.

8:15 a.m. – Need to get dishwasher emptied as sink is now dangerously full of last night’s dishes and soggy Cheerios. Is starting to smell funny.

8:45 a.m. – Peel little ones away from television and implore them to get boots, coats, hats and mittens on so we can get Charlie to school. Millie tries on every boot, coat, hat and mitten set in the house before deciding on what to wear. Trail of boots, coats, hats and mittens stretches from mud room, through kitchen and foyer to front door.

9:15 a.m. – Return from preschool drop off. Millie deposits outerwear everywhere.

9:45 a.m. – Feed Millie Breakfast #2 and get dishwasher emptied. Progress!

10:15 a.m. – Need to switch laundry from washer to dryer but dryer is full of other laundry. Deposit laundry from dryer in giant ball of disaster on family room sofa to fold while watching some horrible daytime show on TLC. Put laundry from washer into dryer. Vow to get caught up on laundry!

10:28 a.m. – Sit down at desk to check email and probably a bunch of other websites that I will regret wasting time on because I could have used that time more prudently to load the dishwasher or fold the laundry.

10:37 a.m. – Too quiet. Find Millie walking around the playroom with three pairs of underwear around her neck and a sock on each hand. She tells me she is a “hero” and I deduce she has gotten into the clean laundry on the family room sofa.

11:15 a.m. – Dishwasher loaded, weird sticky stuff on countertop addressed. Last night’s pajamas consolidated into pile on the stairs. Am obviously winning. Hear tremendous crash, run to playroom, find Millie has dumped giant bin of Duplo blocks onto floor scattering pieces underneath every sofa and table in the room. Half-heartedly encourage her to pick them up but decide on the spot that I really don’t care. Millie asks for Breakfast #3.

11:45 a.m. – Time to get Charlie from school! Retrieve boots, coat, hat and mittens from various corners of the house to plop on Millie. Think to myself for the 400th time that there must be a better way. Like, what if I just never let her take off her boots, coat, hat and mittens?

12:15 p.m. – Arrive home to fix lunch. They never stop eating. Never. This will never end. They will always want food.

12:45 p.m. – Unpack Charlie’s backpack. Flurry of actual beads and feathers float down to kitchen floor. Wonder if Charlie was at preschool or Mardi Gras. Will have to clean that up later.

1:05 p.m. – Charlie and Millie have moved from the mess of Duplo blocks in the playroom to the truck bins in the family room. Despite large quantities of highly similar vehicles, they are fighting over one (1) Matchbox car.

1:10 p.m. – Millie loses the Matchbox battle and in an act of retaliation and defiance descends on the Lego table where Henry stores his latest creations with the same care afforded the Constitution in The National Archives. Itty, bitty, teeny, tiny Legos are thrown everywhere. This is bad. Very bad.

1:11 p.m. – NAPTIME! NAPTIME! NAPTIME! NAPTIME! Am I shouting? Oh, because it’s NAPTIME! Hooray! Charlie and Millie insist on dragging approximately twelve toys apiece from the playroom to their beds. I offer no resistance because NAPTIME!

1:12 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. – I don’t know what I do during this time but it is definitely not/not laundry or dishes.

3:05 p.m. – Henry arrives home from school. More shrapnel in the foyer. Another backpack to empty filled with page after page of busywork. Cannot even handle deciphering what I should keep or what I should hide in the deep recesses of the recycling bin when he’s not looking. Punt decisions until later and leave everything all over the kitchen counter.

3:07 p.m. – Henry asks for a snack. I ask him to get it himself. This is quickly followed by the familiar sound of 150 Goldfish crackers scattering across the kitchen floor.

3:08 p.m. – Pick up Goldfish crackers.

3:30 p.m. – Millie is awake! She’s got the post-nap grumps so I tell her to pick out a video to watch while I fold laundry. I return with the laundry from the dryer to add to the laundry still on the sofa and find Millie has removed all 35 DVDs from their cases in an effort to find the Laurie Berkner one. Which, ironically, is the one DVD we own that doesn’t have a case. I’m impressed with her speed but less so her accuracy.

4:00 p.m. – Charlie’s awake! He wanders downstairs with three blankets, a pillow, a stuffed lamb and a framed picture he removed from his wall. I… have no words. He promptly asks for a snack.

4:27 p.m. – 5:15 p.m. – PICK UP! PICK UP! PICK UP! WHY IS NO ONE PICKING UP?

5:35 p.m. – Dinner time. Because it’s only been 90 minutes since they last ate. Only 37 percent of food presented neatly on plates makes it to their mouths. Am raising savages. Crumbs everywhere. Yogurt smeared on table. Peanut butter stuck to bench.

6:07 – 6:45 p.m. – PICK UP! PICK UP! PICK UP! WHY IS NO ONE PICKING UP?

7:00 p.m. – Time for pajamas and the Bedtime Countdown. Retrieve clean set of pjs for Millie from the family room sofa, grab the boys’ pjs from the stairs and hustle everyone upstairs to get changed and washed up.

7:07 p.m. – There is toothpaste everywhere. On the sink, on the faucet, on the mirror and, I think, some on the light fixture. Why is this happening? How is this so difficult? Why does it go absolutely everywhere?

7:15 – 7:45 p.m. – Internal struggle. Try to decide if my desire to be done parenting for the day is stronger than my desire to teach my children that they must pick up after themselves. The clear winner is: BEDTIME!

8:00 p.m. – Someone should really clean this up.

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