The Art of the Rage Clean

Nearly a month ago before the kids’ last day of school I had this optimistic little blog post saved in my drafts called “The Summer Bucket List”. Here is a little snippet from the blog post that never was:

However, being the wine glass is always half-full optimist that I am, I decided that rather than wallow in what will surely be a grueling few months,  I should try and embrace this quality time and make the most of it. Hence, the idea of the Summer Bucket List was born!

The drafted post goes on to list out fun activities for the kids and I. These were brainstormed together to determine what a four and two-year old really wanted from their summer vacation. The post dripped with optimism. So much so that I purchased a piece of bright yellow poster board and intended to write down our bucket list items and check them off with great flourish once they were completed. Gag me. Who is this mom? I don’t even want to be friends with her.

Now with August on the horizon the summer fatigue has hit me full force. I don’t know if it’s the four straight days of rain we’ve had but I am going out of my flipping mind.

When the moments are good they are so very good. The joy felt at watching AJR attempt to swim a few strokes without his puddle jumper. The adorable way Olivia shouts “cannonball!” with great gusto before hurtling herself into the pool. The giggles and tan-lines and fun times with friends that we can’t get enough of. There is honestly a lot to love and be grateful for this summer.

One of our best moments this summer.

But the bad. Oh sweet Lord the bad is bad and it hangs over my head like the rain clouds that rumble outside my window. Yesterday I went to yell at the kids and literally felt my voice catch painfully in my throat. I chugged some water to try again but I could barely raise my voice above a normal speaking voice without feeling like sandpaper was rubbing against my vocal chords.

Of course I was instantly wracked with mom guilt. Then I was just pissed. I’m yelling because they are making me have to yell (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it). It’s only been a month since the kids have been off school and I’m already at my wits end. How is that possible? What sort of mother am I? I feel like a fraudulent stay-at-home-mom. One that relies on school to get a break from her children and once that’s taken away I start to fall apart. The demands are constant and usually made as soon as I sit down for a brief moment. The two of them cannot play together longer than two minutes before the bickering and WWE throw-downs begin. It is impossible to prepare a meal without having to run into the playroom to pull them off of each other. Do they not realize that this is part of why we had two children? So that you would each have a constant playmate no matter what?

I cannot get an unprompted please or a thank you to save my life. Do you understand how maddening it is to say “How do you ask nicely?” to someone approximately 900 times a day? The ungratefulness, the whining, the bickering, and barking of orders is wearing me desperately thin. Thin in a figurative sense, not a literal one. For someone that has to be in a bathing suit on a regular basis you think my eating would be healthier and cleaner. But nope. A big fat nope. There’s wine, beer, hamburgers, hot dogs, ice cream and guacamole to be consumed. And did you know that it’s a scientific fact that Doritos taste more delicious in the summertime?

I told them to entertain themselves while I made dinner and they threw “a party”. It was a real rager.

I don’t like being this frustrated but thankfully I have found a new outlet: rage cleaning. This is not a new phenomenon. Google “rage cleaning” and blogs on blogs on blogs covering this topic pop up in the search results. However I came to the realization the other day that I totally do this and there is a name for it.

Kids whining that they’re bored and it’s only 8:30am? Clean and wipe out the refrigerator! Olivia decided to draw an abstract piece of art on the couch cushions while I used the bathroom? Don the rubber gloves and scrub the bathroom floors on your hands and knees. I just broke up a vicious wooden block fight for the 20th time that day and there’s six hours until bedtime? Purge everyone’s closets and start a donation pile!

There comes a point in parenting when you’re so frustrated and fed up that you simply have to send up the white flag, turn on the TV, toss some snacks their way, and get some time for yourself. For me, instead of a white flag, I’m tossing up a Clorox wipe and getting down to business. The rage cleaning has taken on new forms this summer. I’m not talking about normal sweep and mop the floors, wipe the countertops type stuff. No, I’m re-painting baseboards. I’m on my hands and knees with rubber gloves to wipe underneath the fridge. I’m googling “homemade carpet cleaners” and trying to remove mystery stains that could either be made by a human or a dog. I’m purging toys and rearranging the upstairs playroom and the play area in the basement in an attempt to freshen things up and keep their interest. My guilt, my anger, my frustration fuels these cleaning episodes and I can physically feel myself start to wind down mentally with each vigorous scrub.

Over the weekend my husband joked that maybe I was pregnant since I’ve been cleaning/nesting so much. To which I said:

Is this the healthiest way to deal with parenting frustration? Perhaps not but rage cleaning is cathartic and leaving our house in great shape. Well, relatively great shape. It’s still a tuna sandwich that you left sitting in your car for eight hours on a 90 degree day, but it smells nice(r). Most importantly, my frustration is all but gone once I finish a cleaning episode. The kids are still going to do the things that kids do yet I’m in a much calmer disposition to handle whatever they throw my way. I love my kids and want to enjoy the time I have with them as much as possible. Sometimes it just means I’m going to have to get the floors gleaming when they get to screaming.

What about you? Are you a rage cleaner? Do I sound like a yellow glove-wearing psycho now? Anyone?

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