Wednesday May 28, 2014
In my years of mothering four boys, the mess morphed from blocks to trucks to balls and stinky shoes.
No matter what the age, the potential for mess was there.
And why did it bother me?
Expectations—mine and the expectations of others.
What if someone came over and saw what a mess the house was?
(In retrospect, they’d realize I was a normal mom with normal boys…)
Why didn’t the boys do what I asked them to do—mainly, pick up after themselves?
(Because they were kids—little fallen creatures who imitated their mom sometimes…she definitely didn’t always do what her Father told her to do.)
But it wasn’t just expectations. Some of us just work better, think better, in organized situations. I grew up in one, and that probably predisposed me to wanting some order.
So, how to deal with the mess?
How can I reduce the likelihood that the mess will trigger Mom Angst?
• Realize some mess is simply to be expected. Ease up.
• Try to contain the mess. I remember insisting that toys were played with in the family room or in one’s room. (Then I could go to the living room, take a deep breath, and pretend the rest of the house looked as organized.)
• Come up with a Clean Up System. Do what works for you. My boys would go into toy overload when absolutely everything they owned was in the floor. So before naps or before we went anywhere, we’d do a quick clean up. Then when we returned or they awoke, they started fresh—and I felt fresher.
• Organize the toy-keeping and teach the kids how to keep it. Involve them in the process. Kids always buy into something when they feel they’re a part of it. Ask, “Where should we put all the trucks?” or “Should we put Lego people with the blocks or keep them in their own spot?”
Kids need creative chaos, but they also need to know how to organize. Believe it or not, the times you spend encouraging them to put the blocks where they belong correlate to the (hopefully) organized backpack they’ll carry to school.
The mess will crop up again; some days are just messier than others.
Take a deep breath, Mom, and thank God that your kids are mobile, that they do play, that they can make noise.
Any ideas, Moms? How do you handle the constant mess of childhood?