Friday, 11 August 2017 14:15

Cleaning up is Hard to do

By Katherine Morna Towne | Families Today

Our house is falling apart. 

I guess I realize that with six boys, I can’t expect it to remain intact, but it’s becoming more apparent to me lately, more than in the past. Probably because they’re all getting so big, and two of them are middle schoolers (one of whom is now taller than me, as of the last time I measured him against the wall: June 17), and none of them are content to stay in the child-safe playroom with the baby gate up in the doorway anymore. Also because, since the youngest is three, I’m actually clear-headed and energetic enough to notice the house and actively try to make it look nice.

You can understand my frustration, then, that after more than a dozen years of not paying any attention to the house at all, what with birthing and breastfeeding and potty training and trying to arrange all aspects of our lives so that we all sleep through the night, now that I’m actually putting in the effort, it’s all a one-step-forward-two-steps-back endeavor. All because of those boys.

For example, there are holes in the walls in the TV room and playroom from various bits of furniture being shoved too roughly against the wall. We had to have our kitchen faucet replaced recently, and I’m convinced it’s because of the overly rough manner in which it’s turned on and off seventy-five times a day by thirsty boys. One of our kitchen cabinets—the lowest one, in which we put all the boys’ cups, plates, and bowls, so even the littlest can get his own—had a door that ripped right off not too long ago because they like to crouch down and hold on to that door while leaning backwards and assessing the contents of the cabinet. “Stop hanging on the cabinet doors!” I say every day, because the fixed cabinet door is surely shaky and the other one will probably meet the same fate.

I had to stop letting my youngest lay down in his room during nap time, because the first day he took a nap up there after I’d moved him out of his crib, he was so excited he decided to throw his cars around and broke a light switch cover and cracked the mirror.

We have a sectional that faces the TV, and a love seat that faces the opposite way, and their backs are up against each other. Because the love seat is so much shorter than the length of sectional it butts up against, I’ve been envisioning finding the perfect-sized end table to put next to the love seat, that will exactly line up with the end of the sectional. It’s one of those furniture arrangements that makes me, who’s not known for any interior design ability, a little swoony with the perfection of it all. I could even put a lamp on the end table! Oh, but wait. The little boys are constantly climbing over the back of the sectional onto the love seat in order to get to the kitchen, because it’s so much quicker than actually walking around the couch of course, and if a lamp was right there, right near where their legs swing over, it’s guaranteed to be knocked over. Several times. Every day. 

I frequently walk into the front room to find the front window’s curtain on its rod hanging askew in the window or down altogether (the window that faces the street, the one all the neighbors can see, of course). The screen door on the back porch has had its lowers screen ripped away from its frame a hundred times, because the boys like to kick that part to open the door (yes, we’ve forbidden them to do so). It currently needs to be repaired, again, and I recently watched my son bring over a basketball to put on the porch and instead of opening the screen door and putting the ball inside, he tossed the ball through the screen on the bottom of the door.

That’s half the problem right there of course—the boys just don’t care about the same things I do. They want food when they’re hungry, the freedom to get really filthy outside, their weekly video game allowance, etc. They don’t care if there are dirty clothes on the floor, or if their sheets have somehow come off their mattresses in the night, or if there are fingerprints on the walls. 

Despite all this, I am seeing progress. This summer I got caught up on laundry for maybe the first time ever. A dear friend/handyman extraordinaire is going to patch and paint the walls of our TV room and playroom. I think I may have found the perfect end table to go next to the love seat, and it’ll look great, even without a lamp on it.

Kate and her husband have six sons ages 12, 11, 9, 7, 5, and 3. Follow her at, or email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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