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Kitchen or Kids?

Kitchen or kids: It's the proposition that follows dinner each night in our house. It basically means, "Do you want to clean up the post-dinner mess or kick-start the kids' PM routine?" Don't jump too quickly, as there is no easy answer.

Answering "kitchen" could mean scrubbing a mountain of dishes and/or pots and pans, plus cutlery, the counter tops, the table and so on. With some luck, the dishwasher will actually be empty (a rarity), the trash can won't be overflowing (an unparalleled event) and the evening's "chef" would have tidied up as the cooking went along (a bona-fide miracle).

Selecting "kids" is even riskier.

If they actually ate something during dinner, they're probably satiated and happy enough to keep from attacking each other, Ultimate Fighting style, while you arrange pajamas, line up the lotions and diapers, begin baths, choose the evening's books and answer the phone (because someone ALWAYS calls just as you're getting started). Finally, you've got to referee the inevitable argument over who will be first in the tub.

Not that it's all bad. While cleaning the kitchen you can listen to music or, even better, the sweet, happy voices of your little ones in the next room. On the other hand, having two fresh-smelling kids curled on your lap, their heads pressed into your chest as you read their favorite books and feel their gentle breathing is just about as close to heaven as you can get.

As for me, I'll take "kids."