How is it that a two year old can create so much mess? Not really a question because I know exactly how, they don't just take one book from the book shelf, no they tend to pull them all off, then they are distracted by the train sitting on the shelf to head to the box of train set which is customarily littered over the living room carpet, after building the figure of eight track he is distracted by some cars and in the car box he finds a red crayon so then it's all the crayons, the cushions and the jigsaw puzzles. If the mess is still there when the other three get home from school they seem to view this as permission for them to leave a trail of destruction, generally shoes, school bags and uniforms from the front door. Even the husband, who uses the excuse of being tired is slowly following suit. Everyone has regressed back to primary age untidyness. I seem to spend my life either picking stuff up or yelling at someone to collect their belongings as I am not a servant!!
After seeing a friends Facebook update last week, where she had confiscated the XBox until one of her boys had tidied his room, I decided to try a similar tactic with my older children, (can't really expect the two year old to clear up after himself and actually his bedroom is the tidiest.) so last Tuesday I very calmly explained that they had until Friday bedtime to have tidied and hoovered their bedrooms, including bookshelves and wardrobes or lose mobile phones, IPods, laptops and access to the computer and IPad until I deem their bedrooms clean and tidy. At first they all took it in their stride but as the week progressed the cracks began to show. By Thursday child 2 was beginning to have a meltdown, due to the teachers strike he was at home and wanted to clear up, but he honestly didn't know where to start. In the past I have often just piled everything up in the middle of the room and told him to sort through it. This time I broke it down into steps, clear the dirty washing and hang up clean clothes (funnily enough everything was dirty even if it wasn't, I guess it's easier to empty everything into the wash basket than hang things back up!) then clear his bed and make it, then put all the Lego away and so on. He was frankly, horrified when he realised that, that was all the help he was going to get. For a while I was a wicked and evil woman, no where near good enough to be his mother because I wouldn't help him. But, to give him his due once he realised that, that was how it was, he cleaned his room and hoovered up like a trooper. Child 3 did need a little help and isn't really big enough to handle the Hoover, but she tidied and wiped her shelves - she loves the IPad. Child 1 was the most amusing, being the power hungry teenager, she was going to ensure that she tidied up on her agenda and no one else's, as she was busy Friday night she immediately broke the deadline grinning smugly but on Saturday morning when she realised that I was sticking to my guns and the target literally so no phone even for emergencies I became a Nazi!! Despite, her little fight for her rights, by the end of the day her bedroom was also clean, tidy and hoovered.
Why is it that untidy bedrooms can create so much aggravation in a household. There is loads of information out there explaining why some teenagers are untidy, often because they are going through so many changes, they are leaving their safe secure childhoods and entering adolescence. They are making huge decisions within their education and are trying to keep up with their peers in so many different ways, that it shouldn't really be any surprise that their confusion manifests itself in mess, clutter and chaos. They are also striving for independence, so their own private space becomes their domain and they feel that they should be allowed to keep that space as they desire. If they want to live in a pigsty, why shouldn't they. For me it's about finding a compromise, they need to learn how to tidy their rooms, how else will they keep an organised home, when they leave for pastures new. Interestingly, social media has as many discussions about how parents enforce bedroom tidying as teenagers asking how they tidy their rooms. For me, I am hoping that by reaching a compromise the bedrooms will be tidier and the mess that was spilling out into the rest of the house will be curtailed. If anyone knows how I can train, coerce, force my husband to tidy up after himself please, please share!!!