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Letting Go of Mommy's Perfect House

A funny thing happened tonight while we were getting ready for bedtime: my four-and-a-half year old son picked up his toys willingly. This strange event has been happening frequently and I'm not sure if it's because he's been playing house with his little sister or if he suddenly feels a sense of responsibility. I've always wondered how amazing it would be to have my kids actually clean up without being prompted OR threatened OR bribed. When it finally happened I was shocked by my initial thought, "I'll just tidy that up when he goes to bed." Why on Earth would you want to tidy up the organization your son did with his own toys? I know, I know. I feel bad even writing about it. Is anyone going to be coming over to my house to see the way Brennan chose to clean up his toys? No; to be quite frank it doesn't matter if the Queen of England was coming over. Brennan cleaned up those toys, Brennan arranged them on my nicely alphabetized bookcase. My nicely alphabetized bookcase that no one really notices besides me. Oh and did I mention that I categorize them too? As I was walking over to the bookcase to put the toys back where they really belonged another thought crossed my mind, "How will he feel when he wakes up the next morning to find that his carefully put together toys have been put away in their 'proper' place?" And with that thought I started to ponder the life lesson that he may take with him if I started to impose my opinion of what a perfectly tidy house looked like. Would his little ego be squandered because of my need for order? Yes; yes it would since he had me come to look at his job well done several times before getting tucked into bed. I've left his nicely arranged toys where he left them. His sense of responsibility is far more important than my desire for this perfectly tidy house. After all, the tidiness would only last through the night until morning's first light and the kids' first giggles of the day. I think that letting go of our desire for perfection as mothers could be the seeds of responsibility for our children as they become adults. It's our job to raise able adults. Even if it shows up as their toys organized by them in a childish manner or their clothes folded messily laying in crates; it's the way my son is figuring out responsibility and work ethic in the adult world that he lives in. Sure it drives me a little crazy on the inside but as I sit here writing this to you, I look over at this bookcase, and I can't help but smile. This little boy, this sweet young man is showing me how responsible he is and how he desires to please me. I'm leaving everything the way he left it when he went up to bed for the night. This...this is a perfectly organized house now.
What things drive you a little crazy when your little one(s) is/are trying to be helpful around the house? Is there anything that you've changed about your expectations of what your perfect house looks like?
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  • Amen! Great post.

    NC on
  • Yes! I think it is very important that kids learn to take care of a house and especially their own stuff. Picking up toys and sweeping and vacuuming are jobs that I can be a bit lax in perfection. It is hard when they are small and ask to wash the dishes! Often they leave grease on dishes, and I have to sneak back in later to clean it. Some crumbs on the rug behind the chair won’t bother anyone, but greasy dishes may be a health hazard!

    Lacy v V on
  • This hit pretty close to home. My son is 2 now and is starting to clean up on his own for trying to get me to help when he’s feels it’s time. I had to swallow a huge helping of “Leave it alone Elizabeth” when he was putting them in the ‘wrong’ place. I gather this is going to become a big deal to me, but It’s nice to know that I’m not alone with these thoughts! Thanks for sharing!

    Elizabeth on
  • Letting the kids help is so important, even when they don’t do things perfectly. I have to remind myself when the youngest wants to help with the dishes that a little more splashing is okay—he’s learning to clean, and he is getting the self esteem boost of knowing that he is contributing to the family.

    Sara Johnson on
  • Sometimes in trying to keep that “clean” home i have to remember that children are only age once and everyday they learn and grow and always see new things..

    sharon on

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