“Garbage clutters the house that has no dream.”
— Mike Dolan
Over time, a clean room sounds something like this.
- Age 4 – “Aww cwean!”
- Age 6 – “I did a good job cweaning my room!”
- Age 8 – “It’s all done!”
- Age 10 – “My room looks good, Dad. Can I go outside now?”
- Age 12 – “She was supposed to clean her half. But I cleaned mine!”
- Age 14 – “I really feel that I met the objectives of a clean room.”
Because the above statements have been proven to be factually inaccurate in our house, I felt compelled to reteach the cleaning lesson last night.
No magic here. Teaching a lesson takes time, and some lessons need to be taught and taught again. That meant jumping in and cleaning with the kids, giving them ideas on how to sort, suggesting things get thrown or given away when no longer used or loved, and generally being frustrated because they should already know how to clean their room.
It’s frustrating to clean a child’s room, especially if he or she should know how. But we, as adults, have to be careful with the word should. It carries with it a lot of expectations. And unrealized expectations engender feelings of shame, guilt, frustration, and anger.
And the ultimate goal of teaching a child to clean her room isn’t to get angry, or even to have a clean room. The goal is to teach the child to lift herself out from under an overwhelming burden. In life, burdens will pile up and get in the way of her dreams. Just the way clothes tend to pile up in a corner.
If a child can learn to pick up her room, she’ll be better prepared to pick herself up later in life when things get messy.
Yesterday’s gift of time … Helped my kids clean their rooms.