Saturday, November 26, 2011

I Eat My Words and Help Clean a Room

Here's what you should never do: brag online about something your kids are doing well because of your amazing parenting skills, as I did when I wrote about my daughters keeping their bedrooms clean last month. Why? Because it is one of those inevitable laws of the universe that as soon as you do so things will begin to unravel. Ashley really had been doing well with her room when I wrote that post. For months, she had kept it in very good shape. Not perfect. But not bad at all for a 10-year-old.

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.

32 comments:

  1. Hahahaha Sorry, but I had to laugh! Oh how quickly the tide does change! Why, just last week she was re-re-re-decorating her room! Can't wait to see the zebra print comforter! You'll have to tell her that I got a new comforter myself, I think the interior designer in her was horrified by my red and black comforter with my sea green-blue walls! Thank god for black Friday! lol

    I'm glad you both spent some much needed quality time together, and I'm so happy we are raising such an understanding little lady. Once again, even at the not so fun task of cleaning her room, you've proved to be an awesome parent! Thanks Rebecca, for all you do!
    Love,
    Erica

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  2. Thanks!!

    Oh, and she has moved her furniture again since you were here! But that didn't stop the stuff from accumulating on the floor. Yes, I'm sure she was horrified by your color combinations ... but don't feel bad -- I've been getting a lot of flak lately for wearing too much brown. :-)

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  3. Great story! Thanks for sharing, really enjoyed reading it. Stopping by from Voiceboks!

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  4. I do this all the time as well. I jinx myself all the time.

    Stopping by from Voiceboks. Congrats on being a featured member. I am glad I found you. I am also a biological and adoptive mom as well. It is great to meet other fellow adoptive moms.

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  5. Great read, thanks. It made me think about my boyfriend's 13 year old son, (my girlfriend mom son) who still doesn't make his bed when he's with us. I told him that although his mom does it for him at his house, we're going to do things a bit differently up in here!
    Thanks and now following.

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  6. Congrats on being a featured member on Vboks. I am a new follower. I have a 11 year old daughter and the same battle. We end up having a major purge every few months.

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  7. You are so right about that. It seems like that happens to me too. If I'm happy about something, as soon as I start bragging or telling everyone, it seems to go in the reverse. I have learned to keep my mouth shut, and just thank the Lord for my blessings! Congrats for being a "featured blog". You deserve it!

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  8. Isn't that the way! You must appease the blog fairies sometimes!! Sounds like you handled it great! I love your parenting style Rebecca. My daughters room sometimes gets to the point where there is nothing to do but help her, it gets overwhelming for them too! Thanks for another great post!!

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  9. So sweet! Don't feel bad about posting that; kids go through phases and she could have been going through a "clean phase" - hopefully it will come back! :) Visiting from VoiceBoks; love your blog and am now following. Can't wait to read more about your adoption story; we hope to adopt through foster care one day too. www.wonderyearsof2.blogspot.com

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  10. detodounlolo.blogspot.comNovember 28, 2011 at 4:37 AM

    It´s funny how all of us can, at some point, relate to your story... it even made me remember when it was my turn to clean our room (I slept with my sis) and when we just couldn´t or didn´t want to, everything ended up UNDER THE BED! lol
    I´m always having the same arguments with my two young ones, 3 & 7... guess I´m just being extremely strict (I just hate cleaning and organizing- a new task I must now do- I used to have a maid and now that we moved to Spain things are a little different...)
    Thanks for opening my eyes : ) This post´s been just what I needed to cope with all the ahhhhhh that making them organice brings out in me.

    Congratz on being a featured member! Have a great week, your friend
    Lolo

    detodounlolo.blogspot.com

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  11. There's something about girls. My daughter is the messiest of all four of my kids. The boys aren't tidy by any means, but not to her level of, well, mess. Sometimes, you do just have to dive in with them. :-)

    Visiting and now following from VB - April http://bzoohomeschool.blogspot.com/ Follow me back?

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  12. Rebecca, your post took me back to so many memories. I have 6 kids so I've had to do the major room over haul many times. A couple of times I got so frustrated I even dumped everything into the middle of the room and didn't let them come out til it was spotless. It sounds like you handled much better than I!! You made it a bonding experience!
    Blessings,
    ~Erin

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  13. Hi, I’m from Edge of Escape . I’m following the link from the Voiceboks email. Now following you.

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  14. Funny how that happens! Congratulations on being a featured member of vB this week!

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  15. I'm not to this stage with my son yet as he is only 3. He does help pick up his toys. Sometimes even without being asked. LOL. Congrats on being a featured member on VB this week. I'm already a follower but it is great to catch up. :)

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  16. I have long struggled with the balance between teaching cleanliness and being overbearing about it. I share your philosophy that my kids should clean their own rooms. Unfortunately that doesn't always give me the results I want. Good thing parents aren't perfect either, huh? (new follower from VB)

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  17. Many thanks to all you wonderful ladies from VoiceBoks! I will try to return the favor with visits your sites tomorrow.
    :-)

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  18. Hi Rebecca,
    Those impromptu bonding moments are always the best! Congrats on being a featured member this week on the Boks!

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  19. Being a mommy to two girls, I completely understand and relate to this post. How is it, that such adorable kids can destroy a room...or many...as if they are their own Cat 5 hurricane moving through a house. Yet when it's time to clean up, they suddenly have no idea where everything belongs or how to put it away. I've had many instances where I've had to attack my daughters room, with her by my side, to show her what to do and how to do it. Some days I really lose my tolerance for it though. Admittedly, my typical parenting line has become..."do I need to grab a big black trash bag and go to work cleaning your room for you, or would you like to give it a try on your own?" Not a line I'm proud of, but sometimes it can become such a frustration.

    Great post!

    ~Blessings,
    Rosann

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  20. Oh Lord, I am so laughing. Your daughter sounds just like me at 10 years old. And 11, and 12...LOL

    I love how she asked if you wanted to hang in her room once it was clean. Whata smart kid

    Sharon

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  21. Gosh you are better than I would do..... Not sure I would have tackled the room! You set such a great example!

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  22. There is something about eating our own words, I don't know what it is. It really is amazing that your 10-yr-old kept her room in good shape for months, something to be proud of for sure! I love how you worked with her to clean up though, when she didn't keep it up. Shows your love and understanding that no one's perfect and we can mess up and it's all good :) Thanks for stopping by my site today and for your sweet comments!

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  23. Lol! I am the queen of jinxing myself when it comes to my kids! If I brag to anyone about anything or try to get my kids to show off, they always teach me a valuable lesson and turn the tides on me. Parenting definitely keeps us on our toes!

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  24. Great story! I'm working on letting my kids manage their own rooms. It's hard for me for some reason, but since I've been sick I literally can't do it. But, my goodness, they are so messy. I give them little nudges now and then hoping their rooms don't become full-on disaster areas!

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  25. I guess it's good to know that your kids are human and don't always keep their rooms clean! I think it was for sure the right decision to help her clean it though because when things get that out of control, it is just overwhelming to know where to start. Sounds like a great end to the day though all snuggled up under a zebra print comforter watching TV together!

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  26. That was nice of you to help. My mom used to make us clean our rooms all the time so now I'm not as neat -LOL! I like how you both hung out after you were done - that was sweet.

    Congrats on being a featured member on vB

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  27. What a nice way to end such a tedious job! I love reading posts by mums of older kids - and then wonder if I'll manage situations like these as well as them:)
    Thanks for sharing,
    Kristina

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  28. I love the ending! Especially the cozy Comforter! I would Love to get a new one for my own bed...maybe I can convince the husband if I promise to clean out the room by myself? haha.

    We have a similar philosophy; where the room is my children's own responsibility, just as folding and putting away their laundry is still their responsibility. I still wash it because...well...my boys are only 7 and 6...and they are BOYS! I don't think i want them trying to mess with the Washing Machine just yet.

    I've had days when I've had to intervene in my boy's ability to keep their room clean. But I can't be too strict with them, because I"m not the best at keeping the rest of the house meticulously clean either. We keep a philosophy in our home..."Clean enough to be healthy, and Dirty enough to be happy". On Most days it serves us well.

    --Your Fan from VB JadeLouise Designs

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  29. I found the magic to my kids keeping their rooms clean...we put our house up for sale...now my kids know their rooms have to be spotless before they go to school! It's great!

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  30. Why are clean rooms so fleeting? How nice that the two of you got to enjoy it together though at the end...great story:)

    Congrats on being a vb featured member!

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  31. What is that curse about anyway? It used to happen to me when my kids were younger and I'd brag about somebody sleeping through the night finally...only to be rewarded with regression after I hit "post". At any rate, I loved that you took the time to help your daughter and now you both have a liveable space to show for it. I have yet to loosen up about my kids bedrooms yet, but perhaps once we sell our house and move, I can.

    Congrats on being a vB Featured Member! I'm now a follower!
    Gina
    www.totallyfullofit.com

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  32. Learning responsibility is a-must with kiddos these days. I always insist that my kiddo picks up her toys either with a song (she's 4) or with our sticker reward system. But it must be done before she plays with something else. If they learn good habits when they're little, then it will carry on through later years.

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