Recently, I had to clean out a refrigerator. I’m not talking about tossing the gross rotting food out that you found in the back, I’m talking deep clean a refrigerator because I was selling it to someone else.
The fridge was already moved out into my driveway, so I thought it might be a fun project for the kids and I. It wasn’t until I uttered the words, “I’m going outside to clean the old fridge…who wants to help?” and I heard three very enthusiastic “ME!!!”‘s that I had a feeling that things wouldn’t go quite like I envisioned them.
You see, it was 5 pm. I had been running ragged all week, and it was dinner time. The time was mistake #1. You’d think I was new to this whole parenting thing or something. Mistake #2 was thinking that using the hose would be a good idea. Mistake #3? It was already pushing 97 degrees outside and, of course, it was the hottest part of the day. So, we had fatigue, hunger, water, and heat. And three eager little people.
I realized in this process that having kids “help” you with a project that is really meant for adults is almost always a mistake and will almost always end up in somebody crying. Luckily, this time it wasn’t me.
How to let your kids help in 34 Simple Steps.
- 1. Offer to let them help.
- 2. Do not expect actual help.
- 3. Get the necessary equipment for helping. Each child needs their OWN rag, water bottle, and bucket of bubbles. Sharing is not possible.
- 4. Remind them each that they have their own equipment and not to touch their siblings cleaning tools.
- 5. Begin. This is the fun, exciting part that will last for about 2.3 seconds.
- 6. Refill the buckets of water.
- 7. Tell them it’s OK when they decide to “wash” the car instead of the task at hand.
- 8. Remind them gently not to use the black rag they buried in the dirt to “clean” the actual thing you started cleaning.
- 9. Refill the buckets of water.
- 10. Tell them more forcefully that they are no longer allowed to touch the item you are cleaning.
- 11. Finally give in to the two year old who wants to control the hose.
- 12. Deep breathe after he sprays you with it.
- 13. Refill the buckets of water.
- 14.Teach the 2 year old which direction to point the hose.
- 15. Wait for him to spray you again.
- 16. Refill the buckets of water.
- 17. Take away the hose.
- 18. Let him throw a temper tantrum and fall to the ground.
- 19. Give him the hose back.
- 20. Say “But, you said you were going to help me!” when the older two kids say they are going back inside to play video games.
- 21. Tell your toddler to wash the car. Maybe that will distract him for a minute.
- 22. Sweat profusely and wonder how bad it would be to just sell the fridge dirty. That green goo in the back doesn’t look that bad does it? Is that fuzz?
- 23. Take away the hose from the toddler when he starts a puddle of mud by your feet.
- 24. Let him cry.
- 25. Keep cleaning and try to ignore his cry.
- 26. Tell the neighbors he’s OK when they come to see why there is a 2 year old crying, “DAAAADDY” over and over again on the front porch.
- 27. Speed up your cleaning and sweat some more.
- 28. Explain to the toddler that Daddy is still at work, so will he please stop crying?
- 29. Blame your husband for the whole scenario even though none of it is his fault.
- 30. Strip the two year old down who is now shivering and crying in wet clothes.
- 31. Keep cleaning in a puddle of water, and hope that no one notices how stinky you are.
- 32. Put the crying toddler inside.
- 33. Enjoy your peace and quiet, and finish the job. Alone.
- 34. Remind yourself to never do this again. Even though, you most likely will anyway.
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