This is a Direct Quote

April 1, 2005 @ 9:41 am | Filed under:

“It’s good, workin’. I’m happy. I love helpin’ you.”

It’s not hard to make a four-year-old happy. There are hundreds, thousands of ways. This morning it was that most reliable of kid-pleasing activities: cleaning the bathroom.

I don’t know why I forget, sometimes, how much a small child loves to help with the household tasks I least enjoy. I remember vividly my own joy when my mother first let me clean a toilet with the long-handled brush all by myself. It would have been sometime between second and fourth grade, because we were still living in the house on Uvalda Street. 767 Uvalda, I think, and what I remember most about living there is worshiping our pretty long-haired babysitter, Nadine, who lived next door and whose favorite songs were “Afternoon Delight” and “You Are the Woman I’ve Always Dreamed Of”; lugging my beloved rental cello to school across a pedestrian bridge that rose to Himalayan heights above busy Sixth Avenue; despising as the embodiment of all things evil a squirrel who ate some baby birds in a nest in our front yard; and embracing with jubilant pride the awesome responsibility of scrubbing the toilet with Comet and that Very Important Brush.

The couple of times I’ve watched that Supernanny show, I’ve had to chuckle over her earnest instruction in the use of the “Involvement Technique,” which is a concept so common-sensical one wonders that any parent needs to be formally instructed in its use. And yet I so often forget to use common sense in running the household. I can work faster if I work alone. “Allowing” children to help takes time, patience, and a high tolerance for accidents. I had more of all those things when my first child was little. But common sense says I need more help now than I did when there was only one small person underfoot. And common sense knows perfectly well that letting kids help with housework while they’re still little enough that the work is fun is the best way to ensure that they’ll be willing and able helpers when they’re older.

It’s just that common sense sometimes bails on me when I’m in a hurry.

This morning I wasn’t in a hurry. I’m trying to return to my good Flylady habits—the house is always so much pleasanter, both in terms of cleanliness & order and in terms of joyfulness of atmosphere, when I’m in the Flylady groove. After breakfast I moseyed into the bathroom to wipe down the counter and sinks. The moment my hand touched the spray bottle, Beanie materialized at my elbow.

“Can I ’pray?” she begged. Nothing, nothing appeals to a small child like a squirt bottle. Two or three Flylady grooves ago, in recognition of this fact, I oh-so-cleverly stocked every bathroom with a squirt bottle full of Don Aslett’s “light bathroom sanitizer,” which smells nice and isn’t full of harsh chemicals. I wouldn’t be comfortable turning a little kid loose with a bottle of 409 or Windex. I don’t even like to use that stuff. The Don Aslett cleanser comes in little packets of pink concentrate for you to pour into your squirt bottle and mix with water. Not to sound like a commercial—it’s just that I’m all about finding practical ways to make good ideas work. I read so many inspiring things about childraising and education, but sometimes it’s hard to figure out how to take those beautiful philosophies and make them functional. Which is why I post so many links and reviews here—when something works, I have to shout about it.

So here’s my shout-out for Don Aslett’s One-Step Bathroom Cleaner. Great stuff. Cheaper than 409, too.

And an unutterable delight to use, so Beanie’s sparkling eyes told me. She squirted, I wiped, she chattered away about a Father Brown story she heard on Jim Weiss’s Mystery Mystery CD—and I had to agree with her declaration. It is good, workin’. I am happy. I love helpin’ her.

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4 Reponses | Comments Feed
  1. Eileen says:

    Great post, Lissa!
    Do you like the D.A. cleaner better than Mrs. Meyer’s clean day (or at least as well as)? and what is the scent like? BTW;if you are done your book,I’m getting the iced tea ready!Hope you all are well.Love,Eileen

  2. Melissa Wiley says:

    Mrs. Meyer’s is still my favorite, but I don’t share it with the kids. LOL. The Don Aslett stuff is a better buy, so that’s what I use for the everyday wipedowns. The scent is light and sweet, faintly flowery (like geranium oil) but not at all perfumey, and not at all chemical-smelling.

    So has your Mrs. Meyer’s spray run out yet? Have you tried any of the other scents? I’m dying to try the lemon verbena. Mmm.

  3. Eileen says:

    I understand about not letting the kids use your Mrs Meyer’s spray!It’s precious stuff!The spray you gave me ran out quite some time ago,however, Colleen since found some Mrs. Meyer’s in concentrate form(at whole foods). It is very economical.You just put a couple tablespoons of the concentrate in a spray bottle and then fill it with water.I haven’t tried any of the other scents.I also make my own cleaner which I got the recipe for from Sandy Maine’s book, “Clean, Naturally.” She also has a website, I think called Sunfeather.You ought to check it out.I would like to try the D.A. cleaner,too.I guess you could say I’m a “spray-cleaner” junkie(only chemical free,of course)!!

  4. Glenda says:

    (Found your blog via AHA Weblogs blogs review) I had read this bathroom-cleaning post one night last week. A night or two later, while getting ready to brush his teeth before bed, my 6 yr old son noticed the inside of the toilet needed to be cleaned. Because I am more inclined to clean certain bathroom areas more often if there is less risk of my getting icky in the process, I use the tablets that you drop into the toilet to clean the inside of the toilet. When I showed him how to do that, then use the brush to scrub around a bit in there, the reply was “oh cool!”. LOL. Not exactly a comment I would use about cleaning the toilet, but then I’m no longer a kid and am no longer mystified by Cool Cleaning Products 😉 Anyhoo, having read your post so soon before that helped me approach his comment about the toilet needing to be cleaned a bit differently than I likely would have otherwise.