KIDS AND THE RIGHT HOUSE CLEANING EQUIPMENT
Cleaning in general seemed like a waste of time to six-year-old me
Kids are funny when it comes to cleaning, especially when it has to do with the larger equipment. Vacuums, mops, brooms, brushes, and everything in between are usually meant for larger hands and bigger bodies (unless you’ve invested in a cleaning set for your kiddo, which is a pretty bold move). However, some kids love to help around the house. They see what you do, and they want to be a grown-up. Apparently, grown-ups are supposed to clean. My brother was one of those kids.
When my brother was about three or four years old, he was obsessed with vacuum cleaners. He would stand in the cleaning section of Home Depot, eyes as wide as dinner plates mesmerized by the “sveepers,” as he called them. He would talk about how much he liked the red one or the yellow one, describing each tube and brush although he didn’t understand how they worked. My mom even gave him the vacuum sections of her catalogs so he could mark the ones that he liked the most, as if he were choosing his Christmas present. She decided to take advantage of this obsessive streak in my brother and bought him a kid-sized vacuum cleaner. It was battery operated and actually swept up the crumbs. She figured he would putter around his room and vacuum up any debris that comes from three-year-old snacks and playtime. What she didn’t anticipate was the sheer terror that he experienced every time he turned on a vacuum, whether it was his miniature vacuum or the monstrosity that fed on our leftover crumbles. Apparently, he had never been present when a “sveeper” was being used. He was so scared of it, he ran away crying and hid in the bathroom until my mom could shut it off. He ended up being less helpful cleaning the house than my mother had hoped.
Unlike my brother, I was not impressed with vacuum cleaners or many other types of cleaning equipment. Cleaning in general seemed like a waste of time to six-year-old me. I always told my mom, “The room is only going to get dirty again,” or “This way I know where all of my stuff is.” Let’s just say I was never the most helpful child when it came to chores, unless I could make a game out of it.
I remember one incident when I had a friend over to play. She actually enjoyed cleaning and suggested we clean my bathroom since my mom seemed stressed. I thought about it and came up with a brilliant plan. We could strap sponges to our feet and mop the bathroom floor as if we were roller-skating. They did it in movies; there’s no reason why it shouldn’t work in real life. We gathered our supplies to complete our task, but we soon realized that we couldn’t find sponges that we could strap to our feet. No problem. Instead, we used hair ties to fasten dishrags around our feet almost like shoes. Genius. Then we realized we didn’t know what to use for the floor. All of our cleaning supplies were locked in a cabinet under the sink for safety reasons. Because we wanted to surprise my mom, we decided not to bother her to ask for the supplies to mop the floor. Instead, we decided to improvise. Dish soap. That gets the dishes clean, so why wouldn’t it clean the floors? Still amazed at our ingenious plan, we squirted ridiculous amounts of dish soap onto the floor of the bathroom. It was time to skate. We soon realized that the hair ties used to fasten our rag-skates tended to be stuck on the tiles and the dish soap was incredibly slippery and dangerous resulting in some sore bottoms and nearly crashing into the countertops. My mother found us after a few particularly loud bangs and crashes. She was surprised, but it didn’t help relieve any of her stress.
As a child, my husband felt more responsibility for his household than I ever did for mine. He and his older brother began helping their parents clean at a young age. His dad taught them to sweep with brooms, correctly wield a vacuum, mop without leaving streaks, and even trusted them to clean the bathrooms without swallowing bleach. Although this created a sense of responsibility in him that frequently shines through as an adult (he cleans more than I do), he didn’t always appreciate it when he was young. Eventually the two boys figured out ways around their parents’ strict cleaning rules. One of their more clever tricks consisted of just dumping mop water onto the kitchen floor and letting it dry instead of going through the trouble to mop the linoleum and focus on troublesome spots. Apparently, their father would walk into the kitchen, smell the “clean” smell of the room and deem it well cleaned. They never were caught.
As kids, we understood that cleaning is a struggle. Sometimes it’s scary, sometimes it’s messy, and sometimes we simply do not want to do it. We look for shortcuts; we hide in the bathroom; we wish that our moms would just come home and do it for us; but at the end of the day, as adults we have to face our fears. There are days where I dread cleaning, especially a task as daunting as my kitchen or my bathroom. On these days, I think to myself, “As an adult, do I really want to live in a mess? No.” Therefore, I grab my grown-up broom and my grown-up mop, and I clean my dirty house.
Adulting is difficult, but living in filth and clutter is even worse. I appreciate my mother now more than ever, especially when I have to mop the tile in my bathroom. Thankfully, I no longer use dish soap for that!
— Sydnie Olliff