Yesterday, we had PanKwake’s best friend over. In my tiny two-bedroom apartment was four adults, two ten-year-old little girls with special needs and two toddlers. For over five hours!
And used this meme because that room is cleaner than my house right now.
Back when I was the preacher’s wife, my favorite bible verse was:
Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox. Proverbs 14:4
One of my guests last night was quite impressed when his small sons were exploring, he said something to them about not making such a mess and I responded:
A home is for the people, not the other way around.
Actually, that is one of the reasons that owning has never appealed to me…your house ends up owning you, not the other way around. But honestly as I explained to him, a home should be your refuge and fortress in this world. The one place that you are free to be you. And that applies to our children too.
Especially our kids, who learn from touching, exploring and yes, making HUGE messes. The preacher and I used to joke with my now adult children…sit still and don’t learn anything.
But what about teaching them responsibility? Shouldn’t they learn to clean up their messes?
Oh, yes, but that is a life-long lesson for all of us. And we quite frankly expect more from our children than we do our friends or ourselves. Have you apologized for the emotional mess you made with your partner (ex)? Have you cleaned up the litter that is all around your work? Heck, is your own room clean? (And yes, I have seen parents, who expect their kids to clean up when their own bedroom is a hoard.)
Give your kids responsibility that is equal to their abilities. For a toddler, putting away a single toy is sufficient. For PanKwake, it has taken a long time, because of her visual memory around the autism, but I clean her room…then she ‘fixes’ it, organizes her stuff the way she wants. And she can get fixated on that too. If she ever does get the hang of ‘cleaning’, she will be one of those OCD types.
But mine is a teen, she should know better by now. Oh, really? With hormones raging through his system at the speed of light? Peer pressure that gets worse all the time? With six to eight hours of work at school and then coming home to another two plus hours of homework? Let’s be honest…a teens life has more pressure than an adults…more hours at ‘work’, more hormones, more trouble with friends. Is having a clean room really ALL that important?
When mine were teens, the rule was…I won’t nag until it starts to overflow into the hallways or elsewhere. Honestly, even if you have company, do they need to see your kid’s room? Lighten up a bit…it will make your life and theirs more pleasant. Oh, and once they started working, they had the option of hiring Mommy maid service too. Just like the adults they were becoming.
And you know what…all four of them ended up okay. None are OCD. But neither are any of them hoarders. One was able to adjust to military standard cleanliness. And the others…well, they do know how to clean if they are having ‘company’ stay over.
So, I guess my method of doing it for them is not so off base. Honestly, it is not my own. In that other time, the Mom did the cleaning…and the children each had ‘a’ chore. One. Maybe two if they were older. That was sufficient to teach them responsibility while allowing them to do the REAL work of childhood…play.
Remember…clean mangers ain’t all they are cracked up to be.
Speaking of which…time to go tackle this messy manger. So that she can do it all again tomorrow.
Goddess bless, guide and enlighten your journey into this brave new world of the post-modern parent.