Let me start off by saying, I am not much of a housekeeper. Now, this is not to say I don’t like a clean house. I love having a clean house. As a matter of fact, I love it even more when someone else cleans my house for me! However, lately that has not been the situation. Or rather, I have not chosen to spend my disposable income on having my house cleaned. It seems kind of a waste to me – after all, it’s just going to get dirty again, right?
But, that is exactly the logic I have been using for years and it hasn’t really helped me much.
I begin this post in this way so that you will understand that my poor pre-teen daughter comes by her non-cleaning-genes honestly. Very honestly.
So, let’s get to the story, shall we?
Months and months ago (maybe a year, even) I got tired of cleaning my daughter’s room – well, let me rephrase that. I got tired of repeatedly cleaning the disaster my daughter called her bedroom only to have it destroyed in 8.29 seconds after she arrived home from school. I would spend hours (days, months, even!) in there wading through the dirty (or are they clean?) clothes on the floor, piles of notes and post-its tossed around the room, stuffed animals who had been lost under the bed (and were probably scarred for life, it’s scary down there) and tossed into the closet or corner of the room. I would have the room looking as if it was ready for a Martha Stewart magazine layout (well, sort of) and all fresh and clean smelling. Heck, I’d even dust!!
Then, she would come home. And she was happy, thrilled, even, that I had cleaned her room. She would disappear up there for hours on end, only to come down for dinner or a play date. And things were nice. For a while. A day, two, maybe. Then, the chaos would take over again.
Clothes would be everywhere – why put them away if you are just going to wear them again, right?
Bed unmade – again, why bother?
Animals running amok (as most stuffed animals do when no one is looking – how else do they get where they seem to end up?)
Papers, craft projects, science experiments, everything (and I mean everything) scattered everywhere.
Finally, I decided I was done. If she wanted to live that way, that was fine. I wasn’t going to clean it for her anymore. After all, how was she going to learn to appreciate the clean if it was always done for her?
So, I went on strike.
I told her I was not cleaning her room ever again and if she wanted it clean she would have to do it.
So, from that point on, I would walk by the room (cringing) and just “ignore” the mess. I would tiptoe in to drop off clean clothes on her dresser (hoping not to step on anything that would break a toe) and run back out quickly.
Life was good. We worked it out. No fighting about cleaning, no ultimatums. She appreciated that I was treating her like a big kid and letting her do her own thing.
Occasionally, she’d get all crazy and decide to clean a portion of her room. So, one-fourth of her room would look nice and I would praise her (heartily) for the hard work I knew she had put into it, hoping that she would continue.
Alas. She also suffers from the same gnat-sized attention span her mother has. (poor dear) She was off to other more exciting things.
And I was OK with that. Let her sort out what was good for her – and learn what cleanliness meant in the process.
However… (da da da dum)
Her daddy had other ideas.
He hated the mess.
He couldn’t stand it.
And so, I told him, “If it bothers you so much, YOU clean it.” I reminded him that I was on strike and that I would not be cleaning her room.
He cleaned her room.
And I mean CLEANED her room. It was gorgeous. Made my cleaning job look amateurish (which it was, I assure you. He is by far the better cleaner in our marriage)
She was thrilled (of course)
and spent the next 3.25 days in her room.
And guess what?
It was trashed again.
Now, dear reader, what do you think he did?
(yes, you are right)
He cleaned it again.
So much for my lesson in teaching her to clean her room.