Monday, March 16, 2009

Not Falling Far From the Tree

We all love it when our children strive to be like us.  But what do you do when your child imitates your bad habits?  I have a confession to make, which will be of no surprise to those who know me well.  I'm a messy housekeeper.  I love living in a clean house, but have never developed all those wonderful skills needed to keep the house clean on a regular basis.  I hate to answer the door when the house is a mess.  If I know you are coming over, we clean like mad to get ready.  Give me less than a day notice, and I am a wreck.  We've been known to piggyback events at the house to maximize our cleaning efforts - like a family dinner on Friday, followed by a game night on Saturday and a brunch with friends on Sunday.  Makes for a busy weekend, but at least we only had to clean once.  Somehow, when I was young, I missed the lecture on how to easily keep up with cleanliness on a day to day basis - where was I?? Actually, no, I remember the lecture - the many lectures.  What I don't remember is why they never sunk in.  And I do remember what a pain it was to pick up after myself, preferring instead to play the piano, play outside, read a book... anything but clean!
So, sadly, my habits regarding housekeeping have continued into adulthood, and my children have followed suit. I try to turn them around and instill some decent cleaning awareness, but when I have such a hard time with it, it really seems hypocritical.  My question is this: in the BIG picture, is it worth concentrating so hard on getting my children to pick up after themselves?  I'm talking their own stuff in their own rooms.  I have horrific  thoughts of dorm rooms where future roommates wonder (aloud) what was wrong with my boys' upbringing that they keep their junk all over the place.  And what about respect for all things (even material)? Should I focus on how my sons keep their own bedrooms or only concentrate on the shared living spaces?  Do I need to worry about their future relationships and how it reflects on me down the road?  Or should I spend more time improving my own cleaning skills and let them learn by example?  Have I missed the boat with all of this (the boys are 11 and 13)??

Share your thoughts and wisdom.  I could use anything you have at this point!!

1 comment:

Silverton said...

At the risk of giving a lecture, here is my opinion. Your discomfort with your untidy home and concern for the boys health and future social acceptance is reason enough to make some changes.

Having good sized baskets in each room makes it easy to quickly pick up clutter to store in the baskets until a more thorough clean up time is available. Laundry baskets in each bedroom also help so the clothes dropped wherever can be removed quickly from view. 3 minutes before bedtime will clear the floor and furniture of all out of place items. This is a skill that will benefit the boys later.

The kitchen should be kept very clean and only regular wipe downs and sweepings will do the job. Our best times were doing dishes together making the work go fast and talking about daily events that did not come out at dinner time. If you are too tired at the end of a long day, or this conflicts with homework time, look at eating earlier. Even a half an hour often makes a difference in evening energy levels. Or, plan ahead, cooking meals that can be reheated during the work week will save on the number of pots and pans to wash.
I am very grateful when family members know how to put in a load of laundry or step in to fix a quick meal. This takes the load off me when I need it. I have seen that homemaking skills are very useful as young adults move off into their own living spaces and feel empowered to cook their own meals and keep their space tidy.

The most important benefit I feel from an ordered space is the peace of mind in the uncluttered rooms, the appreciation for the beauty and comforts of our home that fill me with appreciation for my family and our times together.