My mother always advocated a clean room. She would stand and lecture us about pride of appearance, cleanliness and simply keeping things nice. I didn't really get it. Children have different ideas about clean than adults. On top of that cleaning is a SKILL, not just a habit. Where something goes is almost as important as putting it in its place. Recently, we (my husband and I) have been working on teaching Cora to pick up her room and her own messes.
Don't miss understand. Niether Pete nor I are excessively cleanly people. I'm sure his mother and hazmat still have nightmares about Petes high school room clutter. My own Mother will occassionally mention the rope joke. It has something to do with a walk in closet that usually resembled an overcluttered treasure trove of clothes toys and puzzles. There might also be a story about finding molded paper mache projects tucked under my bed and encased in stuffed animal sized dust moosies.
Today I discovered that our eldest has inherited her parents love for youthful clutter. Her room, with barely space on the floor for walking was not offensive to her. SHE could find stuff. Pregnant Mom couldn't even make it her dresser. Prior to pregnancy I would sit in her room and assist her in the task of dividing up the cleaning chores into little jobs ("first lets put away the puzzles") and then supervising the overall effort. It worked. I was helping her sort and organize, and cleaning became a kind of game.
Her Dad has a different method. Relying on old parenting tactics he gave good orders "clean your room!" and then would check on it occassionaly, promising dire consequences for lack of continued effort, and praising the sight of the purple carpet. It worked, and I was amazed at how little time it took Cora to accomplish clean with Dad directive. "Supurb" I thought to myself "No more babysitting, she understands the concepts of how to put stuff away."
At least I thought she did until I noticed a cardboard brick sticking out from under her bed.
Yep. The catch all of my daughters cleaning efforts were simple. Shove everything under the bed, and purple carpet appears faster, dad says you are done and you can play with the super interesting toy you lost and finally found under a layer of puzzle pieces to your sisters wood puzzles. I laughed silently in self dirision, and then tried to drag some of the mess out of its hiding place.
I'm too pregnant to do this. I realized. I can't even lie down well, let alone move my arms efficiently.
A super cleaning will have to wait, but at least I've learned a super lesson. A three year old cleans the way all children eventually learn to do. The FAST way, which involves finding a place your parents won't check and shoving all the clutter out of sight, and out of their minds.