Last week I wrote about how to survive the smearing of feces when your children can be sent to school. As you might imagine, things get a bit more difficult when you have a smearing incident while the kids are home.
The key word is containment. When the kids are gone, you can contain the mess with relative ease. When the kids are home, you must contain the mess and contain the kids, and clean up the mess, simultaneously, all without going crazy. Believe it or not, it’s not as easy as it sounds—and, yeah, I know it doesn’t sound particularly easy.
The difficulty here is that kids who have no problem smearing their own feces have no problem (usually) stepping in it and tracking it all over the house—even after you’ve bathed them.
The actual cleaning steps, assuming you can contain it, are virtually the same. The problem arises with the containment factor.
IF you have a situation where:
1) You can safely put the kids outside to play…
2) You can have another adult take the children to the park or somewhere equally out of the way…
3) You can have someone responsible (an older child who’s responsible enough to watch them while you’re there, but not while you’re gone) watch them in a dedicated room, perhaps with a video…
4) Or any other alternative where you don’t have to be babysitter and maid simultaneously…
THEN, use this opportunity to focus on cleaning the mess.
But, really, honestly, how often do we really have that kind of help? Maybe it’s just me (probably not), but when my kids were smearing and were home, I was usually the only person available to deal with the situation—not always, but often enough.
IF you are alone, you can’t single-mindedly focus on the cleaning. And there’s no good news. You will have to go back and forth from the cleaning task to caring for the child(ren), and there is a risk of cross-contamination if the child enters the messed up are, which is to be avoided as it makes a difficult situation even more difficult. So, vigilance is required.
Do the best you can. Forgive yourself for the tears, the frustration, and the harsh words you might not be able to hold back. I’m not actually advocating being mean to your kids to vent your negative feels, but sometimes it happens. Apologize to your child(ren), and forgive yourself.
Then, find a way to let it go. Maybe after the mess you should do something fun with your child. Maybe by the time the mess is cleaned up someone else will be there so you can take that hot shower, followed by a lingering bath.
Whatever happens, remember: This too shall pass.