Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing.
So you are standing outside and it is snowing. Not just a few flakes in the air, but the big fat snowflakes that are going to stick and build up inches quickly. You ignore them at first, but you realize that if you don't do something about them, you will be snowed in before you know it. Snowed in means stagnating and going stir crazy. (Not a pretty picture folks.) So you shovel some snow; just enough to make sure that you can leave when you need to. It keeps options open and gives balance to your life. Of course, when I say shovel some snow, I mean every day, because you live in Arcticville where it snows 24/7. It is easy to be overcome by mounds of snow, and don't forget the occasional avalanche.
The snow is always there. It always needs attention. Most days that is fine. You tolerate snow, it is natural. But some days, the constant shoveling gets on your nerves. You begin to resent the snow and the endless chores it creates. You snap at the snow, even though you know that is not going to improve the situation. You ignore the snow for a while only to be overly frustrated when the inevitable all-day shoveling occurs.
So you try doing the it other way. You are super dedicated. You shovel constantly. The snow barely touches the ground before you are there with the shovel, scraping it from the ground leaving a spotless path beneath. But people are not considerate of your perfect shoveling. They walk past leaving frozen patches of ice. They shake extra snow off their coats and play (gasp) in the snow. You slowly become mad at everyone for not being considerate of your diligent efforts. You sigh resignedly realizing that you will probably be the only one who ever cares about your front walk.
You can coax your family into helping sometimes, especially if company is coming over. They see the need to clear the walk for extra traffic. But don't be fooled. Once the company is gone, there is usually more snow to be cleaned up and your family has all but forgotten that it is snowing at all. You feel consoled when you see your dedicated neighbors out there shoveling as well. At least you realize you are not alone in this quest against entropy. You may not care at all how their walks look. After all, you understand the constant battle. But your own sidewalk is a matter of pride, of your personal victory over what? The universe?
I have been shoveling diligently lately. I have resented cleaning the walk and then watching the flakes softly hit the ground; it happens so quickly. I realize that it is getting in the way of other significant things. But what is the answer? If I spend more time on important matters, the snow will build up, right before my eyes, and I almost get depressed looking at the impending chore. Is there really a good solution?
I think extra help is the key. Many troops are definitely old enough to handle their own child-sized snow shovel. Those smaller shovels don't always do the job like you would, but it combines cleaning with family time; win/win. And naturally, there are the days that you will just go out and shovel quickly to get it done. Also, as lead shoveler, you need to figure out the most important areas to shovel. It sure looks great when the entire sidewalk is tidy, but realistically, sometimes you only need a narrow path to reach the door.
And whereas shoveling is an important, essential part of living in Arcticville, if you let it consume you, you are missing the bigger picture. The key is balance. Sorry, sure wish there was a magic wand, or that Summer Wheeze spray they have in Frosty Returns, but really there is not. There is just you, one woman against the world. Find your groove. Maybe it works best for you if you shovel on even days, or when your mother-in-law is visiting. Maybe you choose to shovel for an hour a day, max, or in ten minute increments. Just don't forget who you are shoveling for, or the bigger picture. Because a clean sidewalk can only make you happy for so long...even if it is very satisfying at the moment.
There's my rant, sometimes I need to remind myself.