My kids hate to clean their rooms. I get it. I hated to clean my room when I was their age too. I actually worry just a bit about any kid who really loves to clean their room. Or anything really. Being a kid is all about being messy, right?
I’m the first to admit I am not exactly an amazing house keeper. I work 50-60 hours each week, commute 1.5-2 hours to and from work each day, and have a family to take care of. Oh, and I still don’t really like to clean. My house isn’t really dirty, it’s just cluttered and on most days needs a good dusting. It’s in no way dangerous or hazardous though. It’s well-loved and well-lived in.
In light of my failings in the cleaning up department, I try to be forgiving of my kids’ rooms. But a few times a year we reach a tipping point that I just cannot leave alone. Last weekend my daughter’s room hit that very dangerous precipice.
I gave her a chance to clean it up. I knew it was a mess. I knew she’d been “cleaning” by shoving toys under her bed and in her closet. She’s 7, so to her I don’t doubt that these quick and easy fixes probably even seemed like cleaning up. But I told her I was on to her and that I knew what she’d done. I spelled out very clearly what she needed to do in order to clean her room.
She went into her room and came back out about 8 minutes later. I knew there was no way her room was clean. I told her this, but she insisted it was. I told her to go back in and actually clean. She stomped her little seven year old foot, clearly very angry with me, said “fine!” and headed back to her room. Five minutes later she emerged and assured me it was really clean this time.
“Oh sweetie,” I thought. “Please do not think I am such a fool.”
I gave her one more chance, this time telling her that either she cleaned it the right way or I’d clean it my way. She was clearly over the massive effort she’d already put forth and told me to go ahead and clean it up.
So I grabbed a garbage bag and a rather large shipping box and headed back to her room. I started with the closet. About a year ago my husband and I bought both of our kids really great shelving units and plastic bins to help organize their rooms. When used properly, they are miraculous. However, one look at her closet and I knew they hadn’t been used even remotely properly for a long, long time. So I sat on the floor and started sorting. My version of sorting meant tossing an awful lot in either the trash bag or the donation box.
About 15 minutes into my effort, my daughter came in, saw what I was doing and started to cry about me “getting rid of her toys.” I reminded her that I’d given her the chance to do it the right way, but now I was doing it mine. She tried to back track and offer to clean, but I told her it was too late and that she better march herself right back out of her room and not come back in until I was finished.
An hour later I emerged from her room with both my garbage bag and shipping box full. I’d only managed to organize her closet, dresser and book shelf, but I was pretty darn happy with my progress. I called her into her room, showed her what I’d cleaned and told her that it better stay clean for a very long time. I also told her that next weekend I’d be finishing off her room, once again without her help.
I spent a little over an hour in her room today as well and am proud to say that after another garbage bag (only about half full this time) and a much smaller donation box later, her room is beautiful.
After I finished, I came out, looked right into my son’s eyes and told him that his room was my project for next weekend. He swallowed hard and looked more than a little dismayed. Can’t wait to see what I can get rid of in that room!