With it being Spring Break this week...there has been a lot of TOGETHER TIME :), and it has made me revisit the whole "life lessons we can learn from things shoved under the bed" thingee. Here is a repost from an article I wrote last year at about this time. Enjoy! Children can be frustrating. Good thing they are cute.
Having an eleven year old and a thirteen year old, I know that I can be perceived as pretty frustrating, too...especially when I start saying things like:
"You know your room really needs some attention. You are going to need to do some straightening before you do x, y or z...."
(insert eye roll and deep, disgusted sigh here)
SO, WHY BOTHER? I mean, it is THEIR room right? We could just close the door and pretend that the floor isn't buried in stinky socks and crumpled tissues that missed the trash can by just inches...
The challenge for me as a parent (and I wonder if it is for you too) is to deal with the mess and the children with patience and positivity, so that peace and order are the results...NOT resentment and hard feelings. Here are a few tips to help all of us until they go to college (we'll deal with when they move back home later...) :
- Don't Proclaim "GO CLEAN YOUR ROOM!" instead offer specific instructions, and help your kids think of cleaning their rooms as smaller, more manageable tasks. Things such as putting all the books on the bookcase, gathering all dirty clothes in the hamper, putting all trash in the wastebasket are tasks that are easy to understand and do, and help an overwhelmed child to break down the big job into something doable.
- Encourage Routines--having the habit of putting ten things away each night before climbing into bed, or making their bed each morning as soon as their feet hit the floor are tasks that only take minutes of time, but have the wonderful result of keeping things from getting completely out of whack.
- Remember that clutter and disorder is something all people, big and small, have to learn to manage--it is easy to feel frustration instead of empathy when faced with a pre-teen who is "bored" with chores and annoyed with YOU. We all have sorting and cleaning to do each day, week, month, & season that enables us to enjoy our stuff (not be controlled by it), and it is pretty rare that we look forward to the work involved. Working together while exhibiting a can-do attitude can help your child develop a sense of mastery and see that taking care of these things is important, but not a big deal.
The benefits of a less chaotic environment can be far-reaching, and working together with our kids to achieve this can have many benefits for us and them!