[apsp-pin-image]I wonder if I’m the only mom who struggles with their kids cleaning their rooms and giving my children grace when it’s not done correctly. I struggle to look past the mess. I try hard. I will go to play with them, but all I see is a mess that I have to shove over in order to find one clean spot on the floor to sit.
It’s like the mess has a ray that beckons me to clean it or have them clean it. I try not to stare at it in the eyes, but it’s force draws me to it. Am I truly alone in this fight?! Because I recognize this in myself, I have tried to implement “clean up times” before lunch and before dinner. This keeps them occupied while I’m cooking and makes them hurry and pick up so they can eat.
However, I’ve been gone last week and I’ll be honest–swim team has taken over our lives this month. Grandparents have helped out and daddy was left alone to manage the chaos. They were so helpful, but I was gone just long enough for craziness to settle over my house and now I’m left trying to get back on schedule and reign in the household rules.
Yesterday was a long day. I mean it, truly. The oldest two kids couldn’t get along even if I had paid them. They share a room which means there is a lot of time to practice growing in love and grace towards each other. They typically do wonderfully together, but there is one time a week when they go at it. Every time I tell them to go clean their rooms, it begins.
My middle daughter has learned how to manipulate my oldest son a little and is able to get him clean the things that she doesn’t want to clean. My son does it, for a reason that I’m not sure why. Perhaps he’s using it to manipulate her later or maybe he truly doesn’t mind helping. I really don’t know.
It doesn’t matter, though. I want them each to learn to either help each other clean the entire room or be responsible for their own things. I don’t care which they decide, but for some reason it tends to be a struggle for them. I know that being 7 and 5 means that it won’t be perfectly done, like it would be if I had done it.
I’m trying to instill them responsibility for their things, learning to take care of them and each other’s things. I want them to learn to contribute to our family and pick up.
Being a homeschooling mom who also works and tries to take care of the house, there’s not much time that I’m away from them. That means that our house can go from clean to a disaster in 5 seconds flat if we don’t stay on top of it. This may make my tendency to control things a little stronger, because I don’t like chaos. I try so hard to keep things simple. Every mom knows that having kids is not simple. For this reason, I’m so thankful I’ve had 3 kids. With each child, my control lessens and I just survive!
After they were given the task to clean their rooms, I realized they had made a bigger mess than when they started. Clothes weren’t put up (yes, I moved their shelving down so they could even hang up their own clothes) and toys were just thrown wherever. Legos and Playmobil pieces were all in the carpet, making it painful to even walk across the floor with no shoes. They said they were “organizing,” but either they got distracted or their “organizing” meant only putting up half of their toys.
I was pretty upset with them after seeing this mess. I got called “mean mommy” so much and was told “You hate us” over and over. I stuck to my guns and made them continue picking up. By bedtime, it was obvious this was not going to get done. They were crying and tired and getting upset. I knew they were exhausted from the previous day and from swim that morning, so there was no way that I was going to allow them to stay up past their bedtime.
In fact, their bedtime got moved up 30 minutes because I couldn’t take it anymore.
This morning I woke up and breathed. The mess was still upstairs. My stubborn, controlling self said “when they get home today, they’re staying upstairs and picking up even if it takes them all week.” I wanted them to learn a lesson–pick up after you play. I had another part of me saying “give them grace.” My kids knew my response to their mess was frustration. They knew I wasn’t happy with them. It wasn’t changing a thing, though. It was leading to frustration on all parts.
So this morning, I did what they least expected. I chose grace.
I sent them to VBS and came home and cleaned their room. This was humbling for me because I was letting go of control and doing something I didn’t think I should be doing. The more I cleaned, though, the more thankful I was for them. Well, let’s get real for a second–seeing clean laundry folded in backpacks and lipstick drawn all over the counter threatened to derail my thankfulness, but I kept smiling.
I wasn’t doing this for my kids. They benefitted from it, but I was doing it for me. I needed to teach myself a lesson in grace, whether they understood it or not.
When they went upstairs to “clean” their room because they knew it had to be done, they were so grateful to see what I had done for them. They may not have grasped the significance of this grace moment, but I did.
I don’t plan to do it every time, but I do need those humbling lessons often. I needed the reminder that relationships are more important than rules sometimes. Humbleness is better than control so much of the time.
Do I expect them to keep it clean? No. Tomorrow I plan to throw lots more away and donate more. For today, though, I chose to give my children grace.
After this day, I created a whole new chore system that we use, complete with an invoice to give them more responsibility and lessen my load of keeping up with how much I owe them for their particular chores. If you’d like to see our system, check out the side bar on my home page.
I’d love to give it to you completely FREE!