Monday, 15 December 2008
by Mama Monkey
About a month ago, I started trying a new method with my oldest son (8) - who can be a bit messy. We were having real problems with his room being a mess, had tried other things and I was sick of the fight. So, he was told that once a week, on Sundays, I would go in his room and anything not put away would be taken away. He won't get any of it back until I don't have to take anything away for 2 weeks straight. Well, so far, he hasn't gotten anything back and I am getting quite the collection of toys. So far, I have mainly been putting them in this laundry basket ...
I know it may not look like much, but most of the stuff he is getting taken away are smaller things and there are 4 boxes in there full of lego pieces, action figure parts ... and stuff like that. But anyhow, there really is more depth to this blog.
The thing I am wondering (because he, of course seems to think so) is if I am being unreasonable. I am, admittedly, a bit of a neat freak and it is one of my fears that I will unwittingly pass this off to my children or be too hard on them because of it. I try very hard not be be too particular, but I expect things to be picked up. Yes, if I am the one picking up, everything has a 'right' place to be - the legos are organized by color and each drawer has a certain purpose (i.e. dress up stuff, super hero/action figure stuff). However, it is not like I am going through things and taking stuff away because he is not putting it away 'right', it just needs to be picked up.
He, like was other 8 year olds I think, believes I am being completely unfair. He says it is his room and doesn't understand why it matters if he keeps it clean or messy. We also have different definition of 'picked up'. To him, as long as it is not on the floor, it is picked up. He has a love seat and a small table in his room and his solution to picking up is to go in and throw anything that is on the floor onto one of those. To me, this is not acceptable. He has plenty of drawer and shelf space (we even put more shelves in his room because that was one of his complaints) and to me throwing his coat on the couch instead of putting it on the hook 3 feet away is just plain lazy.
I tried to talk to him about it last night, but you really can't reason with an 8 year old. I explained to him that it isn't so much about him being neat and tidy as it is about him showing responsibility for his things. It is about being able to find things when you want them, as this is another of his big complaints. If it is put away, then it is much easier to find. I tried to use a comparison for him - though it didn't seem to help much. I asked him what would happen if he woke up in the morning and went in the kitchen to get his breakfast, but I had completely reorganized (or rather UN-organized the kitchen) with a couple bowls in one cupboard, a few more in a different on and yet others in a drawer with some towels. Then took the silverware and just kind of scattered it around the kitchen, throwing it wherever it was most convenient at the time. I asked him if it would be very easy for him to find the things he needed to get his breakfast. Of course, he just huffed at me and buried his head in his pillow. (I think he saw my point, but didn't want to admit it.)
And, as much as I hated to do it, I pointed out that he is under my roof and needs to follow my rules - whether he likes it or not. The question I have for you all is if this is an unreasonable rule. I don't think it is uncommon for kids to have to keep their rooms picked up (though he thinks he is the ONLY ONE in his school who has to do it) but -like I said - I feel I need to be careful in this area because of my obsession and tendency to take it too far. I really just don't know and I don't want to end up 'scarring' my child because I am being unreasonable.
What do you think? Are your kids expected to keep their rooms clean, or do you figure it is their space and they can do with it as they please?