Monday, February 20, 2017

What Kind of Example is My Messy Room!?

"Why should I clean my room, Mommy, when your's is such a mess?"

My mouth dropped open. I'm sure a fly might have flown in, buzzed around a bit and left. Those were the words that came out of my oldest, my 6-year-old's, mouth. Sure, I might have been scream yelling at him to clean his room for the last few hours days prior to that question's utterance, just to get the house ready for guests. But, come on. Your 6, child!

How do you respond to a statement such as that? How do you combat the logic and reasoning presented to you by a 6-year-old mind? Because, it's true right? I mean, what have I shown my son besides a messy room? What kind of example am I leading?



We celebrated the baby's 1st birthday a few weeks ago. It was glorious. Funfetti cake with bright blue frosting... The kids were playing their little hearts out in the backyard... We spent the better part of a week cleaning the same parts of the house over and over again just to be ready in time.

As a friend of mine went through our master bedroom to use the bathroom (the guest bath was occupied) I cringed at the thought that she would have to traverse the tiny pathway and actually see the mess! Oh good gravy, the mess... The Mess... With all the yelling and watching and supervising, I never got to lay a finger on my own room.

How much time a day do you talk to your kids about cleaning up? I am pretty sure I tell my kids about 10 million times. Ok. Maybe not that many times. But, I'm sure it's a lot. I tell them to clean up if they want to watch tv, clean up if they want candy, clean up so they can drive their power wheel car outside, clean up for this, clean up for that. I am sure I say it 10 million times more than is absolutely necessary.

But, how often do they see you cleaning? I am pretty sure I spend most of my time standing at the sink washing the gazillion bowls they thought was necessary for breakfast. Apparently a kid needs more than one bowl for cereal in the morning. I don't understand their rationale, or how they manage to get the bowls. I place them high in the cupboard on purpose. They are ninjas... But, do they see me tidying up my own things? Not really. I leave them where I put them, set them down on the counter real fast so that I can pour a glass of milk and forget what I was doing in the 10 seconds the action of pouring milk takes. They don't see me clean.

After everyone at the birthday party went home, we were left behind to take in and absorb the shambles that only a really good birthday party leaves in it's wake. I walked into my kids' rooms and saw the mess. My son looked at me with defeat in his eyes. I just shook my head, shrugged my shoulders and gave him a hug. "did you have fun with your friends?". "yes" he told me. Then I walked to my bedroom and looked at the mess there. No one except my 1 friend went through there and it was worse than my son's room. What am I showing my son? What kind of example am I setting with my own room a mess?

Have you read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up (check out my initial review here) or ClutterFree with Kids (initial review here) or Allie Casazza's Blog? Even the multitude of the organizing/tidying/purging/cleaning facebook groups say to do the same thing when it comes to teaching your kids how to clean/tidy their own spaces. I'm sure if I search harder I could find it stated more. Lead by example. Eventually they will do it too. 

Really, that's what I need to do to get my kids to clean their rooms? Lead by example? At least that's the position we are in now. The towers of boxes and books and fabric and patterns all need to get torn down, purged/cleaned/organized. No matter how long it takes, I need to clean my own stuff and my kids need to see it being done by me. 

Maybe they might not clean it right away. Maybe they will find another excuse. But if I can get it under control at least I am leading by example, and they will learn through their interactions with me and my things. At least I wont hear him say "why should I if you don't."