Thursday, September 10, 2009

My Children, Their Mess?

Top of stairsImage by lorda via Flickr

I've been hiding something for years. Upstairs, on the third floor, in what used to be an attic, are my kids rooms trash heaps. I've been trying to help them clear them out over the last couple of weeks, but it's overwhelming. I'm soldiering on, but with every wrapper I throw away or cup I haul back down to the kitchen, I keep thinking, "How did we get here?" And the answer to that question, it seems, points to me.

You see, I'm not the kind of mom who goes and straightens the kids' rooms. Hell, I don't even put their clothes away for them. And it's been that way for at least five years. My own room is no palace of neatness, but I don't have candy wrappers strewn on the floor (new rule: no food on the third floor). So I'm not setting the best example either. In addition, their rooms are still filled with toys they received five years ago. So there's clutter and there's archaeological piles.

Geeky Girl dug into cleaning her room with gusto. In just a couple of two-hour-long sessions, we had her room in tip-top shape. All that's left to do is go through a set of drawers and a small basket of toys, easily done in another hour session. Geeky Boy, on the other hand, being a teenager, will not be moved. Two days ago, I asked him to start digging out, letting him know that I would be working on it some myself over the next couple of days. He made a pretty half-assed effort. I don't even want to describe some of the things I found in there! Okay, I will 'cause I know you want to know: chewed up gum, moldy cups, rocks, single shoes, what looks like lost homework from years' past, smelly socks, lots of random coins. Bleh.

Once Geeky Boy and I dig this place out, I'm holding hard to the rule of having a clean room before anything can be done. It's a standard I hold myself to--doing laundry or cleaning before watching tv or playing on the computer--so I think it should apply to my kids. Plus, they get allowance for helping out around the house and their rooms are still part of the house.

What do you all do to with your kids' rooms? Do you have a hands-off philosophy or a set of rules? How much do you get involved in cleaning their areas?
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