When my children are at their most creative, and generally getting along the best, they are also at their messiest. Sometimes, it seems as though the contents of an entire room have been rearranged or moved to another room for the sake of their game.
The problem is, when I ask them to clean up said mess, you would think I asked them to eat liver and onions while standing on their heads. I’ve learned that there’s a little less resistance if they’re given plenty of warning, but even still, it is a painful experience. C has to examine each individual item very carefully before putting it away. Sometimes, she has to reorganize everything before she can start putting anything away. And D, he just shoves things away. When cleaning out his bookshelf, I found dirty socks, dog toys and used tissues shoved onto the shelves.
Additionally, D loves to keep everything he ever touches. Or sees. He might need it some day, you know, for an art project. To give the boy credit, he does like to create using boxes, empty bottles, cardboard tubes and tape. Lots of tape. And I love that about him. But, that doesn’t mean he needs to keep the plastic ring from a Cool Whip container or every single toilet paper tube that’s ever been in our house. Good luck trying to convince him of that though. Here’s what I hauled off the top of his bookshelf and the floor in front of it today:
Now, I’m trying to figure out how to keep everything in balance. I’m not a neat freak by any means, but I’d like to have some semblance of order in my house, without having to do all the work myself. This seems reasonable with a 7 and 5 year old – at least more so than a few years ago! And I’d prefer if my son didn’t end up on an episode of Hoarding: Buried Alive some day. They’re good about helping with specifics jobs, such as laundry, dishes or even scrubbing toilets. Putting things away and knowing what’s important enough to keep are the things we struggle with. So, my question is, how do you teach your kids to keep a (reasonably) neat house, without nagging or stifling their creativity?