Where I once aspired to be.
When people used to ask me how I could have five children (and write, teach, homeschool 3 of them, office manage, research, have a beautiful house, do my own eyebrows and bake the best cookies that ever lived outside Mrs Fields kitchen ) I really wanted to shrug nonchalantly, wave my hand carelessly and reply “Oh, it’s nothing. I’m just a multitasking, hardworking, kickass kinda woman.” And then smile mysteriously. Exuding an aura of power and zenlike peace.
But that would have been lying. Because as well as being a kickass kinda woman, I was blessed to have working for me…a housekeeper/babysitter/caregiver/Nanny. She was a super powered kickass kinda woman. She cooked, cleaned, read stories to my child, weeded the garden, did all the laundry, and made sure I never found out that my children were complete slobs.
And then we moved to New Zealand. Without the housekeeper. And I was cruelly thrust out of the cocoon of comfort where i had lived for more than fifteen years, and into the big bad world. Suddenly, I really was Laura Ingalls Wilder. Alone in the wilderness and expected to do everything by myself. (Okay, so maybe a 4 bedroom in West Auckland isn’t reeeaally the same as a sodhouse cabin on the banks of Plum Creek…but it FEELS like it sometimes. Work with me here!) At first, I went into manic hyperdrive. This house was my castle dammnit – and this castle was NEVER going to have a sloppy, dirty day. I cleaned. All the time. I scrubbed. All the time. I cooked. All the time. Because that chest freezer was going to BURST with the evidence of my homemaking prowess or somebody was going to be sorry they got in my way. I ran this place like a military regime. The children had to eat all their food outside. Standing up. Rain or shine. (hello, thats what umbrellas are for?) Because I didnt want them to mess up my sparkling kitchen.If I found wet towels on the floor in the bathroom – then the offending child had to pay. With blood, sweat and tears. Because THIS IS MY CASTLE! And it has to look like Vogue House and Garden ALL THE TIME!
That delusional phase quickly passed. Thankfully. I don’t know how much longer my family would have endured my dictatorship. Now, I take a far more relaxed approach to life in this wilderness. And I’ve made some important realizations.
1. If you don’t make your bed for a week. You can still sleep in it. (Who knew?!)
2. Ironing is highly overrated. Wrinkly is the new en vogue. School uniforms? Pshaw – nobody cares. Church clothes? Hang em up the night before and theyre fine. Better yet, put a winter coat on over them and nobody will even see your creased self.
3. If you dont scrub the toilet EVERYDAY…nobody dies. Nobody gets the plague. (You’re getting some earth shattering advice here, i hope you’re writing this stuff down. Tattoing it on your head. )
4. If you get rid of all your excess dishes and ONLY have the exact number of plates/cups/bowls as there are people in your house – you will never have lots of dirty dishes. Because everyone will have to wash something everytime they want to eat.
5. If you’re vacuuming and your kid wants you to come play on the trampoline with her – go immediately.Because when you play a lot with your children, they are much more likely to be happy when you tell them to clean their rooms or scrub the shower.
6. The best way to get your house cleaned – is to invite people over for dinner regularly. Especially people who have children. Because then your own kids go nutty cleaning the place because they dont want their friends to think we are total slobs.
7. My housekeeper was HUGELY underpaid. And when I win Lotto Im sending her a big fat bonus.
8. My family’s sole purpose is NOT to keep my house clean and worthy of inclusion in Vogue magazine. My family are the people I love, laugh and live with. And a house is made for a family. To live, love and laugh in. (Definitely tattoo that one on my head please.)
And now, if people ask me HOW can i have 5 children and still do all the other stuff I do – I can shrug nonchalantly and reply, “Oh its nothing. Im just a multitasking, hardworking kickass kinda superwoman.” And smile mysteriously. Exuding an aura of power and zenlike peace. Because I am Lani Wendt Young, this is my castle, I dont have a housekeeper/babysitter, and WE ARE ALL STILL ALIVE.