Family Life

From Messy Babies to Maintaining Order

posted: 08/17/09
by: Michelle Duggar


Quiz: Hoarder or Messy?

I think every mom has a story about a child's mess gone wild.

I can remember Josh, my oldest, when he got into the petroleum jelly. That mess took weeks! It was on his hair, his body, even into the bedding. That doesn't come out so easily. He had an incredible hairdo. Thank heaven he was a boy, and it just looked like we spiked his hair. It took so many shampoos to get that one out.

My Jana was an active baby. She was so energetic! She was walking at nine months. One day, I see her walking and something's trailing behind her. Turns out, it was toilet paper, and she brought the entire roll with her around the house. At the time, our home was only 900 square feet, but, you could walk in a perfect circle. She went around a few times with that, before I caught her.

Of course, I had to snap pictures before cleaning any of the messes. I have the Vaseline picture as well. Those are the ones you keep!

We seem to have something everyday. It's usually the little guys, who can't quite reach, but they want to be a part of everything. They try to help, and somehow, everything gets spilled. They want to be big, and be Mommy's helper. I remember one huge can of pineapple that was everywhere in my kitchen. All that sticky juice was on every corner. It's amazing what kind of mess they can get into before they are tall enough to even reach a countertop.

These days, with the older children pitching in, everything is routine. As long as we're all home and doing what we're supposed to be doing, everything is kept clean and in its place. I know the bathrooms aren't always quite as clean as Mom would like them, but my boys try. All the kids do. Mom's version of "good" isn't quite what their version would be, but as long as they keep up with chores, we're ok.

The biggest thing is laundry. Even when we travel, we know that if we're gone more than three days, we need to stop at a laundromat. There's no way to pack clothes for all of us for an extended period of time. So we just have to keep it under control. If we fly, it's always a short trip and we pack light. But we've learned that three days is our maximum, and then we have to schedule some time for wash.

At home, everyone has their area or jurisdiction, and it gets done. The little ones can pick up their toys, and my little ones have their chore packs. My little ones have five chore cards in the morning, five in the afternoon, and five in the evening. They keep those cards with them, and just turn them over as they complete their chores. We reward them, and praise them. It's such a motivation for them, when they know that they will be rewarded. It also sends a strong message that, "Hey, I'm needed here." It's different chores for different ages, but everyone's got to help to keep things going and clean.

Watch what happens when Jackson lends a hand!

Photo: Scott Enlow

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