Lessons learned from a forced purge.
I'm a fairly tidy person. I'm not weird about it or obsessive, but I like things to be picked up for the most part. The kids however, don't seem to share my ideals. Their rooms have been disasters since the end of the last school year. I've had them tidy a bit over the summer and made a request that they do a deep clean before school starts, but their deep clean was pathetic. They knew it too, but it was all they were willing to offer. And at their ages, I just wasn't going to walk them through the "how-to clean your room well" process again. So I needed to take drastic action.
It's a challenge dealing with kids rooms. There are so many different philosophies to consider. We have the "hands off" crowd who thinks the kids rooms so be their own space to do with what they please. And then there is the group that prefers a more militaristic approach and wants the rooms looking pristine at all times thinking this teaches the kids to respect their surroundings. As is the case in most circumstances, I fall somewhere in between which makes me question my parenting skills because you never hear much about the middle - I guess it's just easier to have a really firm opinion rather than finding some kind of balance. But parenting is really all about balance, so I'm sure most of us just walk the lines between extremes in most parental situations.
The rooms were bad though. Really bad. So I removed everything from the surfaces in their rooms and put it all in a big box for each of them. I didn't edit (except for money, earrings, and things I wanted to keep), I just pushed it all off the tops of dressers, night stands, desks, and counters right on into their respective container. I also emptied their bathroom drawers into the box, trying not to be overly disturbed by the sheer number of old toothbrushes and empty deodorant containers I found when I did. I gave them the entire Labor Day weekend to take out what they wanted from the boxes and told them what was left would go straight to the trash on Tuesday morning. No holds barred.
By Tuesday morning, the boxes were still almost completely full. I could see some things had been taken out, but about 95% of the contents of each box was left behind. I held back from doing my own perusal of the boxes; I promised a ruthless toss and toss I did. I filled one giant trash bag - the stretchy black kind - with everything that was left and hauled it downstairs to the garage. The bag was tearing as I carted it down, and an entire package of Nerds candy dribbled out of a hole, but I didn't stop until I reached the trash can. It felt good.
I think the kids are feeling the benefits already. It's only been 24 hours, but JD has found extra lacrosse stringing supplies, Eliza actually wants to do homework in her room, and they are both enjoying their bathroom now that the counter isn't covered with dried up Stridex pads that never made it to the trash. I'm hoping the visual of the full boxes made it clear to them how easy it is for junk just pile up in our spaces. How if we don't hang on to everything, the things we do hold on to have more meaning to us. I'm also hoping now that their rooms aren't bogged down with pointless "stuff" and they're enjoying their "lighter" feeling spaces, that maybe they won't let it get so bad again. I accept that I may be completely delusional in my thinking here. At the very least, I'm hoping they will no longer fear using a trash can. We'll see.
I'm wearing this today.
It's transition time. I find a thin, printed cardigan in darker colors is the perfect piece to bridge the gap between summer and fall. It's the fashion equivalent to preseason football games.
gratitude: sunrises, humor, family dinners, coffee
thanks and love.