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What It's Like Having More Than One Kid

It used to be so easy. It used to be that when we put something away, it stayed put away. It used to be that I could control the crawling space where my kid would scrutinize every piece of lint or dirt or dropped food, and there was nothing because HE WAS THE ONLY ONE.
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It used to be so easy. It used to be that when we put something away, it stayed put away. It used to be that I could control the crawling space where my kid would scrutinize every piece of lint or dirt or dropped food, and there was nothing because HE WAS THE ONLY ONE.

Now, when I get down on my knees to do girly pushups and stand back up, there's all kinds of crap stuck to my skin. Popcorn kernels. Tiny pieces of confetti-like paper. Mostly hair. It doesn't matter if I just vacuumed 10 seconds ago, I will never be disappointed by the grossness that sticks to the sweat on my kneecaps. Someone in my house sheds like a German Shepherd, and it's probably me.

And it's not just those things that are burrowing down into the carpet that resurface when I decide to make an effort and work out (beyond chasing kids, of course), but it's also the things my kids leave on the floor. When there was only one kid, we were able to manage this. When he took off his jacket, we could help him hang it up where it went. When he decided he didn't want to wear socks with his tennis shoes, we could make sure those smelly socks got in the hamper. When he wanted to draw a picture of a flying elephant, he put the supplies away.

The problem is, now there are five little boys tearing off their socks and digging things out and forgetting they ever knew how to put things away. And shedding. Apparently.

The other problem is, Littlest One is crawling. That means when he finds dirty, smelly socks on the floor, they go in his mouth. When he finds important school papers spread on the floor, they go in his mouth. When he finds balls of hair they go, you guessed it, in his mouth. Which means we vacuum pretty much every day. Which is probably what we should have been doing in the first place, but who wants to clean a house where seven males live? Not me.

As you can probably imagine, vacuuming every day does not take care of this problem completely. Vacuums don't suck up things like the insides of a stuffed animal the 3-year-olds thought it would be funny to de-fluff. It doesn't get rid of dirty underwear no one claims. It doesn't get rid of colored pencils.

What typically happens when you have more than one kid is that the 3-year-old will decide he wants to color, so he'll get out the crayons and the colored pencils and his coloring book, because of course you keep all of that where he can reach it easily, because art expression is important in your house, and it's a better alternative to butter-knife sword fighting with his imaginary friend, which has often been his preference but is definitely not allowed in your house, and then when he's finished coloring 30 seconds later because he has the attention span of a squirrel, he goes straight for the trains even though the rule in your house is "one thing out at a time." So then you have The Cleanup Fight, which usually just means a 3-year-old angrily swiping everything that was previously on the table onto the floor, screaming that he is "NOT GOING TO CLEAN THEM UP AND YOU'RE A MEAN BOOTY-FACE" and then collapsing into a pile of noodles right beside the tantrum mess, hopefully scraping his back on one of those colored pencils, so you can bring the point home that "that's what happens when you." And then he'll say he didn't get them out and he never colored with them, "nuh-uh," he didn't, and while you're reminding him that you were just beside him while he did exactly what he's saying he didn't, because you'll argue to the death with a 3-year-old, the Littlest One will pick up one of those pencils, slobber on it and then try to get it in his mouth. And because his aim isn't all that great yet, he'll end up with a mural all over his face.

He was super happy about his first taste of art. And by first taste of art, I mean his first literal taste of art.

I cleaned him off and turned my attention back to the 3-year-old, who was still lifeless on the floor, pretending like he was "too tired to clean up but not tired enough to lie down for his nap early." The 9-month-old promptly zeroed in on an old diaper that had been left by Husband on the floor.

The moral of this story is: It's not just kids who complicate things. It's also husbands.
The other moral of the story is: Clean up your 3-year-old's messes.

Not really. Because if you do it for them, how will they ever learn to clean up for themselves? And you're not doing the world any favors sending a kid who doesn't know how to clean up out into real life, because he'll never learn it if not here in your home, and if you're too lazy to teach him something as simple as cleaning up even when he doesn't feel like it, then you shouldn't have had kids.

Or something ridiculous like that.

A version of this article first appeared on Crash Test Parents. Follow Rachel on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.