I want to thank all of you who posted ideas this week for helping keep a step ahead of little ones and the messes they love to create.
In the process of moving this year (in which most of our kids' toys were in storage for a few months), I was reminded again how very little kids need to keep themselves entertained. Yesterday my girls played with two large boxes most of the afternoon. It is not more stuff that generates creativity; it's the absence of it. The reason Grandma could clean her house top to bottom every week is because her kids didn't have collections of Beanie Babies, Webkinz and Rescue Heroes. We could learn from her.
And an update on Neal-13. His room has stayed relatively neat this week. I helped him sort all his "junk" into plastic dishpans (the cheapest organizing bins there are), labeled them, and put them on the shelf in the top of his closet (the bins were there at our old house, but without labels, they became junk collections). I also gave him a plastic box for his mementoes, so that ribbons, certificates, favorite rocks (!) and things he wants to save don't get mistakenly thrown away by overzealous mothers.
I even went so far as to put sticky notes on all his dresser drawers telling him where everything goes. I take nothing for granted.
One thing I forgot to mention. Just an observation here.
When my kids are obstinate about NOT doing something I've assigned to them (in this case, unpacking and organizing a room), once I have ruled out outright disobedience (passive or otherwise), often I realize they are not doing it because they lack the skill to do the job.
In the case of my older kids, I know I dropped the ball in the bedroom department about the time Ruthie-4 (baby #5) was born. They seemed big, they acted like they knew what they were doing (I had taught them, after all), and it wasn't really that bad. So I stopped following through consistently because I was overwhelmed with other responsibilities.
Here we are, back then. This was taken 5 days after Ruthie was born. Do I look like I could care a lick about someone's bedroom?The good news is, when I look at teaching my kids to care for their rooms and their stuff as a skill (and one that I have not mastered, at that!), it takes some of the emotion out of it. They are not being slobs to persecute me. Even if they are big, and even if we think they "should" know better, they obviously still need some instruction and/or follow through. We want them to learn the skills that will keep them from making their future spouses feel persecuted. This is all the motivation this mother needs!
The other day (after the cleanup incident), Neal said, "Mom, I want to spend some time with you - just you and me." I am just smart enough to know that when your teenage son says that to you, you'd better drop everything and do it!
So yesterday we got up early and went to breakfast, just the two of us. (And no, he did not order an omelette. "They probably can't make one as good as I can.") We talked about his new friends, his old friends. He gave me the scoop on Allie's-14 friends (brothers are such awesome judges of their sisters' choices). We talked about music (his passion). We talked about the future. We laughed a lot.
He is growing into such a fine young man. I enjoy his company. Sure, he still needs some skills, but I don't want that to become a stumblingblock in our relationship. Life is just too short for that.