How to Sweep the Floor in Fifty-three steps

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How to Sweep the Floor in Fifty-three Steps
Based on actual events.
  1. Get inspired. At 3:00 pm the electrician fixing the lights at your house asks, “How old are your kids?”  “Big E is nearly four and little g is fifteen months,” you say.  “I could’ve guessed something like that based on the mess under your table.”
  2. Blush profusely at how a complete stranger is judging the cleanliness of your house.
  3. Fire the electrician.
  4. Get broom and dustpan out of closet.
  5. Pick up a pink bib, three plastic balls, half a lego car, an old Christmas ornament, a dirty washcloth, a chip clip, a toy excavator, three plush angry birds, one plush green piggy and four markers.
  6. Traipse throughout the house depositing the above items in their appropriate locations.
  7. Notice Big E watching. He asks, “Mom, can I play garbage man too?” Offer him a cardboard box to use as a garbage dumpster. He runs off with the box, smiling.
  8. Walk back to the table to find little g eating a mystery object. Ask, “What’s in your mouth?” Try to pry open her tiny jaws while she shakes her head no. Finally extract a half eaten pretzel that she could’ve only gotten off the floor.
  9. Throw away slobbery half eaten pretzel. Little g wails.
  10. Pull chairs away from table while little g grabs your leg. Her wail turns to screams as she reaches up with a grabby hand, wanting to be held.
  11. Pick little g up and rest her on your right hip. Using your left hand, awkwardly swipe the broom at the layer of crunched up Crispix, shriveled apple bits and last night’s now dried out rice that has accumulated under the table.
  12. Sigh and look at little g who is still crying. Put down broom and search for a pacifier. Finally find one under her crib and pop it in her mouth.
  13. Attempt to distract little g with her favorite board book, “Hello, Animals.” She takes the bait.
  14. Return to kitchen. Find Big E dumping a collection of two action figures, two dice, a racecar, a firetruck, and the three balls from before on the floor right where you are about to sweep.
  15. In a loud voice say, “NO, Big E, I’m sweeping right here.”
    Big E replies, “But this is the garbage dump!”
    Take a deep breath and in a falsely excited voice say, “Actually the toy box in your room is the garbage dump. It’s like a huge dumpster itself!”
    See Big E’s eyes light up. He says, “OK!”
  16. Help Big E put two action figures, two dice, a racecar, a firetruck and the three balls back in his cardboard box and walk backward toward his room. When he reaches his toy box he lifts the box over his head and dumps the contents out behind his head as if he were a real garbage truck.
  17. Pick up the broom and sweep under one side of the table.
  18. Hear little g say “mamamamamama.” She holds “Hello, Animals” out.
  19. Say, “G, I can’t read right now. I’m sweeping the floor.”
  20. Little g reaches down and picks up a half eaten cracker. Dropping the pacifier out of her mouth she puts the cracker in.
  21. Say, “No, no, no! We don’t eat off the floor.” Extract the half cracker. Realize that perhaps little g is hungry and put her in her high chair for a snack.
  22. Walk into the kitchen to get a snack for little g and notice that Big E is holding a knife and stabbing the cardboard garbage truck box repeatedly.
  23. In a panic ask, “E, where did you get that?”
    “From the counter,” he says. His face is the picture of childhood innocence.
    Explain that we don’t play with sharp knives, and ask him to give you the knife. When he refuses ask, “Do you want a timeout?” He says no and gives you the knife.
  24. Hear little g fuss and realize you still haven’t gotten her a snack. Throw some crackers on her tray.
  25. Pick up the broom again and sweep under the other side of the table.
  26. Search all the chairs for the now missing dustpan. Ask, “Where could that have gone?” Search the kitchen with no luck.
  27. Ask Big E, “Have you seen the dustpan?”
    He says, “Surprise! I disappeared it!” Sigh and ask him to reappear it.
  28. Search for dustpan with Big E. Finally find it in his toy box where it had been deposited during the garbage truck dumping game.
  29. Hear little g crying and see her making grabby hands at the water glass on the table. Get little g her sippy cup.
  30. Little g throws her sippy cup on the ground in a huff, along with the remaining crackers on her tray. See her reach again for the water glass. Give in and help her get a drink out of the water glass.
  31. Try to take the glass away before it smashes on the ground. Little g screams and dumps the rest of water on herself.
  32. Take away glass by force. Remove soaking wet baby from highchair and take her to her room to change clothes.
  33. Remove wet shirt and pants and only then realize that she has a poopy diaper.
  34. Change poopy diaper. Put dry clothes on little g.
  35. Hear Big E calling, “Mom? MOM!” from the other room, volume increasing with every repetition.
  36. Yell, “I’m in here!” so he doesn’t panic. Big E comes into little g’s room carrying “Hello, Animals.”
  37. Read “Hello, Animals” to Big E and little g.
  38. Try to go back to sweeping after “Hello, Animals” is finished but stay after both Big E and little g vociferously protest. Read the book four more times.
  39. Notice Big E grabbing his crotch and announce that it’s time for a potty break. Accompany him to the bathroom so he can do his business.
  40. Pick up broom and dustpan and return to table area. Resweep the first section since little g’s snack is now on the floor.
  41. Hear Big E pull a stool over to the kitchen counter. Wonder what he is doing while you sweep the first pile of floor scraps onto the dustpan.
  42. Walk with dustpan to garbage can. See Big E on kitchen floor stabbing his cardboard box with the knife. Have the following conversation:
    “What are you doing?”
    “I’m chugga, chugga, chugging with this jackhammer.”
    “E, that is not a jackhammer it’s the knife that I SPECIFICALLY asked you not to play with. It’s not safe. You are not being very obedient.” Try to take knife.
    “No, I WANT IT!” he yells.
    “TIME OUT” you yell.
  43. Remove knife from Big E’s hand, luckily without drawing blood. Carry Big E kicking and screaming and place him on the time out chair.
  44. Set timer for Big E’s time out while trying to ignore his screaming. See that Big E has climbed off the time out chair. Have the following conversation:
    “You’re in time out. Get back on the chair!”
    “NO. I DON’T WANT A TIME OUT!”
    “You have to have a time out. Do you want it here on the chair or do you want to go in the bathroom?”
    “NOOOOO!” Big E runs around the kitchen island as you chase him to get back into the time out chair. You catch him and carry his writhing body into the bathroom.
  45. Once again, you set the timer for Big E’s time out. He continues screaming from the bathroom and then comes out and defiantly flops over the time out chair. Have the following conversation:
    “Your time out’s not over. Go back in the bathroom.”
    “NO! I want the chair!”
    “You chose the bathroom when I had to chase you earlier. Get back in the bathroom. NOW!”
  46. Move the time out chair into the bathroom with Big E still on it. Reset the timer for a third time. Stand holding the bathroom door knob while Big E pulls violently on the other side until the timer rings.
  47. Pick up little g who has joined her brother in crying and is once again begging to be held.
  48. Go into Big E’s room. Attempt to calm yourself and your crying children down through distraction. Build a block tower and knock it down with construction machine toys.
  49. Big E and little g see what you’re doing. You let them knock down the next three towers, then show them how to make their own. When they are both engrossed in their play sneak out.
  50. Pick up broom and dustpan. Sweep remaining pile onto dustpan and bring to garbage can.
  51. Smile with satisfaction as you dump the dustpan and close the lid. Notice the time: 4:25 pm. Lose smile as Big E says, “Mom, I’m hungry. Can I have a snack?” realizing that the floor will once again need sweeping.
  52. An hour and a half, a snack and a dinner come and go. After dinner husband comments, “Wow, our floor is really dirty.”
  53. Resist the urge to punch him in the face.
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Author: Mountain Mom

Hi! I'm Mountain Mom. I live with my husband and three young kids in the mountains near Sundance, Utah. When we're not hiking, biking, skiing and camping, I spend my time doing Mom stuff and reading. Summer of 2016 we traveled over 7,000 miles along the US National Park to Park Highway.

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