By yesterday, however, her room had reached full-out disaster stage, as in can't-walk-from-the-door-to-the-bed-because-of-all-the-stuff disaster stage. In general, my philosophy is that my kids' rooms are their own spaces. I ask for -- and sometimes even get -- their cooperation in maintaining order in shared spaces, such as the living room, but I'm more relaxed about their bedrooms, because, well, they're their rooms.
Up to a certain point, that is. My tolerance, it seems, has a limit, and Ashley's room had reached it, becoming essentially unusable. (She actually slept on the pull-out couch in the living room on Thursday night because her room was such a mess.) Also, we needed to move the window air conditioning unit into her closet for winter storage, but the closet was full of stuff. Something had to be done.
As I wrote in that earlier ill-fated post, I normally expect my daughters to do their own room cleaning. That's the flip side of the your-rooms-are-your-own-spaces coin; I don't expect their rooms to be kept perfectly clean; I do, however, expect whatever cleaning is done to be done by them, not me. But rules are meant to be broken, and this situation clearly seemed to call for some parental guidance. I told Ashley I would help.
We spent about four hours working together in that room, and by the end of it all we had three bags of trash and five bags of old toys and clothes ready for donation, all parted with willingly. In some of her previous cleanings, various unrelated items had been shoved into bags and boxes; we sorted through all of those. Three categories: trash, give-away, keep. Summer clothes were put into the drawers under her bed and winter clothes were folded and put into her bureau. Dresses, shoes, and, of course, the air conditioner are now in her closet. Oh, and we bought a new zebra print comforter at the mall earlier in the day. The perfect (and seriously cool) final touch!
Is the room now completely neat? No. As the hours went on and she got tired, I noticed her shoving items into the cubbies of her desk with less than careful attention. Was the job fun? Uh, not exactly. In fact, at one point I got pretty cranky with her. (When I later apologized to her for my crankiness she said, "That's OK. I understand that you get that way sometimes." I love that both of my daughters seem to get that parental crankiness is not something to be taken personally. Parents are human. We get tired; we grump; and we still love our children even in those moments -- which isn't to say that I'm not working on reducing my level of crankiness.) But it was time spent together, and when we were done we both had a feeling of satisfaction. Her dad and Mackenzie were by that time watching TV in the living room downstairs, but we opted not to join them. "Don't you want to hang out in my amazingly clean room?" she asked. Why, yes, yes I do. So we ended the night on a cozy note, watching one of her favorite TV shows on a laptop as we sat on her bed under the zebra print comforter.