Scrubbing Vacations and Dirty Mangers

Today I declared a “Scrubbing Vacation.” School was canceled to make way for serious cleaning!

We have a busy weekend ahead, starting with a science fair tomorrow morning during our prime Saturday chore time. I’d forgotten such a utilitarian holiday existed (in literature at least) until reading Pippi Longstocking recently to my current batch of elementary children. Actually we’ve taken this type of holiday for years, but I did not know the correct term until this read-through.

We made some significant progress beyond the routine weekly chores of bathrooms and such. The kids cleaned behind couches, sorted through toy and puzzle storage and yes, one even applied scrub brushes to bathroom floors. They wanted to dump water on the kitchen floor and skate on scrubbers like Pippi did, but I would only allow them to mop it in the ordinary way, and skate on towels or sponges to dry. (See picture of my Pippi.)

Our house looked pretty good for a while. But even by the time I arrived home after one child’s piano lesson the deterioration had begun. Sometimes it drives me crazy, but housecleaning is a constant, never-ending duty. Looking at the macaroni Ben had dropped all over the so-recently cleaned kitchen floor I remembered this verse from Proverbs:

Where no oxen are, the manger is clean, But much increase [comes] by the strength of the ox. (Proverbs 14:4)

We have a small barn-let where we keep our two Angora goats. Even without our pony, who died this past summer, it is amazing how quickly the straw becomes soiled. It is a necessary, and not favorite chore, of several of the children to clean out the polluted straw, replacing it with fresh.

My house is the same way. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly the house can go from looking pretty decent to being trashed. Every school day after breakfast we have chore time and zoom around doing dishes, starting or folding laundry, and doing a zillion other assigned tasks. With many working together we can accomplish a fair amount. But by noon, and again in the afternoon, things have decayed. I’ll see schoolbooks lying on tables and desks, puzzles not quite put together, math manipulatives and crayons scattered. Often we have to have a “room rescue” time before we sit down to eat. We work with a timer, and if things don’t look good in five minutes, we set the timer again. Still, by the end of the week, we need more. Saturdays are spent doing deeper cleaning, and pushing through all remaining laundry.

Thankfully I have a husband who prefers me to spend time teaching, training, and loving my children than to be constantly fretting about housekeeping. He is quick to remind me that one day this will not be my endless struggle.

Yes, one day my manger will be empty, and it will be easy to keep clean. And I will miss my “oxen” terribly. For now, my manger is full, and that means the mess is ongoing. We beat it back, but it returns. I would not trade my delightful oxen for a clean manger any day. What a blessed woman I am to have such a busy, lively household. And for any of you moms reading this who feel your house is closing in on you – I’d recommend a Scrubbing Vacation!


mrsd said…
You're amazing. I love your oxen attitude. Thanks for reminding me, because my house is squeezed, and I was feeling frustrated. I will take a Scrubbing Vacation (surely made easier by a girl who can hold horses on her shoulders...). And I will work on my oxen attitude.

Anne said…
Mrs. D -

Not amazing, but completely finite, as my husband is fond of reminding me. Yes - take a Scrubbing Vacation - it will do you good. Put on some good music (not having anything Swedish, we listened to Celtic) and have fun!

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