Up With the Chickens

Raising children and chickens on a little buffalo farm

Free to Hate Housework…

So, I last posted about the importance of doing one’s chores cheerfully.  I stand by that – at least when my kids are around.  But the reality is, housework STINKS!  It is true that because of my missing housework/time management gene, I probably loath it more than some, but no one really likes it.  Right?  Housework is like taxes, mamograms, and swim suit shopping – one of life’s necessary evils that we’d all rather avoid.  The thing about housework is that it just never ever ever ever ever ends. We all get tired of it, but my distaste for some of my domestic duties also has a deep connection to my childhood.

My mother, God love her, tried hard to teach me how to be tidy and to keep things in order. But she did make one serious and far reaching mistake. She bought me the Free to Be You and Me album. www.freetobefoundation.org If your not familiar with it, this album is a very post-hippy, 70’s, Me Generation, collection of songs, poems, and stories created to help children break free from stereotypical gender roles. I loved it, and I listened to it for hours.

When my first son, Jack, was born, I bought him the cd. Leading and loving a life of very traditional gender roles and listening to it with adult ears, I still loved it.  At times Marlo Thomas and Friends do get a bit heavy-handed with their message, but for the most part, it is just a lot of fun! The general ideas are great – It’s alright to cry. Be helpful. Be a good friend. I have no doubt that all of these songs and stories had an influence on my life, but perhaps none so profound as Carol Channing’s Housework monologue.  Enjoy!



I’m not a great housekeeper. That is not to say that I don’t enjoy a clean house or that I don’t want to be a good housekeeper. I do and I do. But for some reason, clutter stacks up, laundry piles up, and dust gathers. I work hard at keeping my house tidy, but I don’t seem to be able to stay on top of my household chores with the seeming effortlessness that some other women do. I could blame it on too much time blogging or on Pinteresting. But many of my tidy friends blog and Pin too. My kids’ crazy schedule? My friends with scrubbed floors and spotless kitchens have kids too. My two hour daily workout? Ha! I wish!

The fact is those women – the ones you can drop in on any time and they don’t feel the need to explain why there is laundry on the dining table or a tequila bottle on the front porch (actually that one is a pretty good story) – those women got the organization, time management gene. I did not. My mother has it.  Her mother had it.  But somewhere there must be a recessive disorganization gene in my family, and I got it.  Yes, I’m blaming the ring around the bathtub and the layer of dust on my mantle on genetics. I’ve heard worse.

At least I’m not throwing in the dirty towel (that was probably left in the bathroom floor for a couple of days). Instead I am constantly devising plans to try to make my housework more manageable and the messes less overwhelming. Some of my plans, like saving all my 37 loads of laundry for one day (and night) a week, have been a bust. Others, like getting a house dog to snarf up crumbs off the kitchen floor, have been a great success.

This summer I resurrected an old system I used when I was homeschooling, and I must say it is making a big difference, especially now that the children are older and can take on even more responsibility.

First of all, each of the children has a chore chart. Duh.  I know other families have used them for years, but we get busy and forget ours.  Not this summer!  Some chores are daily others are weekly.  Either way, it’s simple.  You don’t get to go swimming or have friends over unless your stuff is done.  And we are big time summer party people.  I want almost everyday to be a party in the summer.  For this to happen, people have to be able to come over without me suffering ignominy and disgrace.The brilliant thing about the new and improved chore charts is that they include some important jobs that I don’t necessarily think of as house work,  and that I rarely seem to get to – like watering the houseplants or cleaning the bird poop off the front porch.

Another clutter breakthrough –  each child has a zone (the kitchen, living room, etc.) By the time Daddy gets home, everyone must have his or her zone tidied. Sometimes, when stuff begins to pile up and get on my nerves during the day, or if we are expecting company, they have to do a ten-minute tidy to get their zones looking spiffy.

The charts and the zones have been a tremendous help – easy solutions that we will continue into the school year. But by far, the biggest coup over household drudgery has been my C.Q.C. policy. C.Q.C. stands for CHEERFULLY, QUICKLY, AND COMPLETELY. No whining. No fussing. No complaining. No dawdling. No slacking.  Of course it is normal for kids to grump when they have to do chores – normal, but not acceptable.  I think sometimes we as parents get so used to the stereotype of the “typical American kid” that we sometime accept behaviors and habits (whining, eye-rolling, sass-mouthing, etc.) that are at best disrespectful and at worse are forming habits in our children that will make them unpleasant adults – we’ve all worked with these Debbie Downers and Negative Neds. I do not want my children to grow up thinking it is their right, privilege, and duty to complain about things they don’t want to do.  I want my children to learn that cheerfulness is a virtue. You don’t have to like scrubbing the toilet.  You just have to act like you do!  If one of my blessing begins to complain, I simply shout through my teeth C.Q.C.!!!!  No, not really, I lovingly remind (sometimes with threatening undertones) that if a job is not done cheerfully (or at least in pleasant silence) it isn’t done well.  This simple set of letters has made daily chores go much more smoothly.  Why didn’t I think of this before?

Of course this new system only solves part of the problem of daily chores.  The children are efficient, reliable, and pleasant…if only I could leave ALL the housework to them!  Oooops, I guess that didn’t sound very cheerful!

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Big News….

I have been nominated by my new cyber friend, B.L. Crisp for the Kreative Blogger Award. I am a big fan of his blog, Spirativity . For starters, he is an awesome poet. That is something to be admired.  Also, I feel like he and I have a lot in common – love of nature,coconut oil, drama, family, spirituality, and creativity. Yet, his life and experiences are so different from my own – I grew up in the country. He grew up in the ghetto. I’ve never been to Japan. He lived there for three years. He’s an experienced moountain climber, and the closest I’ve ever come to climbing a mountain is riding the Gondola up to the ski lift at Steamboat Springs. Anyway, I’ve enjoyed getting to know him through his blog, and I appreciate the nomination.

So, the rules for the award of the award are as follows:

1. Thank my nominator (thank you, Barry) and provide a link to his blog (see above).
2. List seven things readers might find interesting about me.
3. Nominate seven other bloggers.


1.  We live in the house I grew up in – with my parents living a granny flat upstairs.  Multi-generational living is not for everyone, but we love it.  My daddy likes to say we live like the Waltons (not the Sam Waltons but the John Boy Waltons).

2.  Although I have four amazing children, I wish I had four more.  Not a day goes by that I don’t miss having a baby in the house.

3.  I did not like vegetables or beer until I was pregnant with my first child.  ( I didn’t drink beer when I was pregnant, but I craved it).

4.  We converted to Catholicism in 1999.  It has been like coming home!   I believe our faith and extravagant love is the greatest gift we have to offer to our children.  The second greatest gift we’ve given them is siblings – whether they like it or not!

5.  If I could have my dream job (and still be first and foremost a wife, mommy, and farmer) I would be a singer-songwriter – famous enough to get to be on Letterman now and then, but not so famous that it ruins my life.

6.  I’m a sanguine phlegmatic – very social, love to have a good time, love to laugh, but also very laid back – so laid back that sometimes important things (like laundry and reconciling the bank statement) just don’t get done.   I’m working on the latter part.

7.  I homeschooled my children for seven years.  They were great years full of fun and togetherness.  It’s not for us at this point, but I cherish those years with all my chicks in the nest.

I’d like to nominate :