Living in the Frat House

It’s got all the marks of a frat house; people coming and going at all hours, sleeping everywhere, sinks full of dirty dishes, underwear in the living room, half eaten bags of chips on the floor and random things piled everywhere.  And guys everywhere you turn who are always hungry. This is my life. And my house. No it’s not a frat house, its our home. It just occurred to me that this is what it resembles. And now I ask myself two questions; why did it take so long for this to dawn on me and should I try to tame the giant that is my household?

Seek first to understand.

I don’t really understand how the dirty underwear end up peeking out from under the chair in the living room. I’m just glad I noticed it before company arrived. I visit other people’s homes and I don’t see this. I walk down to our family room, a space rarely used by the adults, and I’m astounded. It’s really a miracle we don’t have small animals living there. It must be something about gravity that makes it a breeze for them to carry their plates and bowls full of food down the steps and nearly impossible to bring the empty dishes back up. When I point this out, they are quick to apologize and take care of the dishes right away. I’m just not sure why I have to point them out.

I don’t know that it’s really their fault. I don’t know of any teenager who has an eye for cleaning and organization and get a happy feeling from picking up after themselves. But there comes a point when it’s just plain ridiculous. That’s when I announce that I don’t want to come home from work anymore. Not because I don’t love them, but because I can’t stand to be in the house when it’s so messy. That usually results and an all-hands-on-deck-clean-sweep of the house. It’s amazing what can happen when all 5 of us dig in for 15 minutes.

Then to be understood.

I’m a pretty organized person. I’ve even been accused of being a little OCD because of my desire to have things done in very specific ways. {As a side note, my brothers would disagree-or possibly double over in laughter at this comment. Let me just say, I did not have these tendencies as a child when they last lived with me.} I want my kitchen tools sorted in the tool turnabout on the counter; spatulas with spatulas, whisks with whisks, bamboo spoons with bamboo spoons. I don’t think that’s being unfair. I want the things in the junk drawer put back in the compartment with the right picture. The box with the picture of the tape measure should hold the tape measure, not the scotch tape. When I open the drawer to grab the Phillips screwdriver, I want it to be in the drawer. That’s my dream.

I have created a myriad of “systems” to manage our house more effectively. We’ve had color coded checklists, index cards with cleaning jobs, hanging files for dealing with mail. Then there was the “you pick it up or I will and I’ll keep it” system. Turns out I did all the picking up and they didn’t miss their things. We also tried picking up before bed, but then life gets crazy and everyone is late getting to bed and cleaning up first seems silly. I’ve given allowance based on a minimum amount of chores and bonuses for additional jobs. It works until they’ve earned enough to get the latest coveted item and then the motivation is gone.

It’s not that my boys don’t know how to clean; quite the contrary! They do laundry, clean toilets, wash dishes, dust, vacuum and mop floors. They will make great husbands some day. I think they are just saving all their cleaning energy for their wives.

Lest I sound like the nagging mother, I must add ~there are good things about living in the frat house. The camaraderie and friendship between the boys is phenomenal! Our boys really are best friends. They get each other, they will call each other out when necessary and you better believe they’ve got each other’s backs! I like that part of this frat house I live in. It makes me proud as a parent.

So, do I choose to tame the giant that is my household? Some days.

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