This is not meant to be humorous. Now, if my self-deprecation amuses you a little bit, that’s an acceptable by-product, but I am actually dead serious.
I have had people remark (especially after seeing my home or classroom) that I seem to have it all together. And while I know that is of course untrue, I’ve been okay with that misperception being out there.
But you know how some stars will show themselves without makeup to prove that they’re just like us? Well, here I am without makeup. So to speak. (I don’t think there is a great need out there for me to prove that I’m not always red-carpet ready from head to toe. My physical have-it-togetherness doesn’t seem to spark as much discussion.)
Deep breath…here it is:
If you don’t get the point, then you may not know me very well, or perhaps you’re all set to answer the title question in the (h – – -, no!) negative.
You see, these are photos of my daughters’ rooms. And this isn’t a “ha ha, kids cause clutter” kind of moment. Instead, I am going out on a limb and sharing with you that when I walk in each of their doors, my blood pressure spikes and my heart races. I’m really not kidding.
At this point in life, despite my (or perhaps because of my) neat-freak role modelling, Frannie is clearly a hoarder. I used to think that Maggie was more like me, however this is what her room now looks like, thanks to her birthday haul:
I’m sure there are moms out there who could not care less about such things. However, even at work, when somehow my mind drifts to the state of my daughters’ rooms, it stresses me out.
Why don’t I just clean them? Well, here’s the thing: I can remember reaching a point as a child (and I wish I had an age reference to help me out) when my parents no longer touched my room, and in fact did not enter without permission. That said, I was obsessive-compulsive about clutter from an early age, so it was probably easy for them to relinquish that control.
I want my girls to have the same privacy and ownership of their space and “stuff” that I valued as a child, but at this point I can’t get it to surpass my (excessive?) need for order in my home.
I cannot wait for summer holidays to start next week, when we will have the time to devote to the sorting, storing and donation of toys. (I’m thinking a movie afternoon may be the carrot I need to dangle to get the girls feeling energized and generous enough to be of assistance here.)
There was once a blogger who wrote about letting go of her need to keep the toys sorted, and that perhaps it infringed on her child’s creativity. My (convenient) theory is: if the Littlest Pet Shop animals want to have tea with the little rubber Princesses, or the Barbies and Strawberry Shortcake are remote-control-car cruising together, that’s fine by me. As long as they all go back to their own homes at night like civilized people do. (This isn’t the place to discuss exceptions to that rule.)
By the way, why do kids have so much freakin’ STUFF anyway? I would swear on a bible that we do not spoil our girls with material goods…but between Santa, two sets of grandparents, and more aunts and uncles than they can count, even Christmas and birthday gifts accumulate pretty quickly. I’ve heard of philanthropic little children who give away their presents, or ask for donations to charity…but if your child isn’t suggesting that, wouldn’t it be mean to put it on her? What sorts of gifts can be requested that actually make kids happy (as the giver always wants the gift to be well-received) but don’t just end up in the pile with all the rest? (Note to Frannie’s future gift-givers: Cineplex gift cards will be a huge hit. She does take after her mother in that regard.)
Oh, and if you have any tips or suggestions for what to do with the accumulation of Frannie’s first year of school products, I would LOVE to hear them. I want to save the really few important pieces, and sneak the rest into the recycling, but I know there are cool ideas out there for amalgamating such things.
(On a related note, as a teacher, I would like to humbly say to every parent of every student I ever sent home with a whole bunch of crap: I’m sorry. But it had to be done.)
I know when people have two storey homes, it’s easier to just let the kids’ rooms be as they are, but guests at our bungalow frequently walk down the bedroom hallway where they can be affronted by the mess…and just closing the doors makes the hall too dark and suspicious looking.
So, am I the only one with these issues? Are others just mildly annoyed by (or oblivious to) clutter, or do some of you share my physical and mental reactions to all of the “stuff”? When do you start allowing your kids to have responsibility? I know I am teaching them all sorts of organizational skills which will benefit them in the future…but am I stifling them by choosing the “hows” and “wheres” of their systems, and passing along my own slightly unhealthy practices?