Perfectionism of all kinds gets in the way of relationships. Wanting it to be perfect, our vision, our way makes us both mean and promotes procrastination. Kids bedrooms CAN BE a low stress way to practice learning to love the B. Guys, don't turn every messy mole hill into a mountainous statement on your parenting. Kids bedrooms all across America are pigstys. It's not personal AND it can be practice. And you know what - practicing is relationship building, and practicing isn't nagging! Ya with me?
Last week we heard the conversation between Mom and tween about cleaning up the room. At the designated time of 4:00 Mom goes up to the tweens room. Mom has just taken 20 minutes for herself. Mom is not over caffeinated. Mom does not have have to go to the bathroom. Mom is not hungry. Mom has faith in child. Mom reflects back to her tween years and remembers she couldn't have cared LESS about where her clothes were, and so has wisdom and empathy that her tween is most likely similar. Mom has re-read the first blog in the series and remembers that if she fires blame, shame and pain with tidying up the room, well - she can expect the tween to avoid any further exercises in togetherness tidying. Let's dive back in.
Mom: Hiya sweetie, it's 4:00 and what did we say again about how much time we are going to spend tidying up? (Mom is armed with an herbal tea for herself and cold bubble water for tween. Mom starts with a nice hello and a question. There is no saccharine sweetness to try to make child WANT to clean room. There is no 'tough guy' voice to try to MAKE the child get into action.)
Tween: Ugh! What a nightmare, I think we said 2o minutes? (A tween is a tween is a tween - don't be expecting no miracles.)
Mom: I know! (empathy). I'll set timer for 15 minutes and then we'll spend the last 5 minutes moving stuff around so your room is ship shape after 20 minutes. Here are the categories I see on the SURFACE (winky face) - dirty clothes, clean clothes, garbage, schoolwork, books & magazines, memorabilia, stuff that doesn't live in your room. (Categorizing/Sorting makes deciding and doing easier later on. Everyone gets tripped up by being overwhelmed with so many decisions -- TAKE the decisions out of it to start and your 'on ramp' to organizing is easier) Where would you like to start?
Tween: Ummm . . . well a lot of this crap is Joe's (little brother) . . . it's not all mine! (Parent - do NOT take the bait - be a Kung Fu master and go WITH the punch, USE that energy.)
MOM: Oh I see that! How annoying - let's chuck that stuff into this bin here (Mom is armed with bin for stuff that goes elsewhere, black garbage bag for trash, white garbage bag for donate, paper grocery bag for books to donate - Mom isn't worrying about recycling in this case -- efficiency now will make for mindful consuming and cleaning up later.) Ok great, done with that. Now how about that garbage under the bed?
MOMENT OF PERSONAL GROWTH IS UPON US - BREATH IN - BREATH OUT - Stick with me, don't click away. Are you ready?
Mom sees two empty bags of chocolate chips and a can of Dr. Pepper. Ummm . . .this is VERBOTEN! What is MOM to do?
Mom says NOTHING - zero, zip, nada, niente. You hear me right. Mom says nothing and actively relaxes her shoulders and says to herself, "I love my tween, I love my tween, I love my tween."
Tween might be nervous, try to hide the evidence, but Mom reaches out garbage bag in a friendly manner.
Tween (nervously): Um, I DON'T know how that got there. I think that was from when the cousins came to visit.
Mom: Ok, looks like garbage, pitch it on in. Books or clothes next?
Tween: Um, ok, oh, alright, clothes (Tween is all like -- WHAT is going on ? Why didn't I get yelled at, now I feel really bad about sneaking all that . . . ).
They move along to clothes, they don't get to donate any books, but they do bag up some old t-shirts and socks with a couple of pairs of too small jeans into the donate bag, not a lot, but it makes a difference.
The timer goes off at 15 minutes and Mom stops and asks tween to help her to and fro things -- garbage outside, stack unsorted homework stuff on desk, leave debris in the 'corner of shame' where tween usually hides things and at 20 minutes tween and Mom hug and go their separate ways. Mom has learned tween wants new posters and will consider this after tween researches online where to order them. Tween discovers Mom can be chill, Mom isn't as judgey as tween suspected, Mom sticks to her word, Mom is a little less annoying then tween thought.
Mom also makes a mental note to mention the verboten candy the next morning -- she doesn't lose anything by postponing the conversation. Mom has successfully fired good will, patience, understanding and empathy with cleaning a tweens room. THIS is the Magical Art of Tidying Up!
PLEASE NOTE: Techniques like these do not work if parent/child relationship is tense and uncooperative, filled with nagging, and low on fun and laughter. Technique will not work if the amount of stuff is too much to manage. These two things need to be addressed separately and before you try the above techniques.