When My Kids Wouldn’t Clean Their Rooms
It was the day. I was fed-up. It must have been the 2000th time I went to my older kids rooms and witnessed a sight close to a tornado aftermath. There were toys mixed with clothes, clean clothes mixed with dirty clothes, an overflowing laundry basket (that I had emptied a few days ago), and as for board game pieces, let me not go there.
Well, this was the day I had enough. No more chances, no more threats, no chore charts, no reminding, and no more pleading with my kids to clean their rooms. Today was the day my kids were going to learn a life lesson.
I wanted my kids to realize what they had, and if I had to show them in a certain way – so be it. I’m usually a pretty easygoing mom, so it takes a lot to push me over the edge, but this time I truly felt abused by my own kids.
As parents, we should consider how we are being treated by our children and not only how we treat our kids. It’s a two-way relationship and children are not entitled to get new clothes, toys, and games, and then treat their stuff with disregard. It’s also a sense of spoiling to give kids so much, that they do not appreciate what they have and can mistreat it. It also comes down to what lessons are we teaching them when they become adults?
So What did I do?
I took out a box of garbage bags and told my kids to divide their stuff up and fill one bag with toys and miscellaneous things, another with pants and skirts, another with tops, and so on and so forth. This would make it easy to pack it out when needed.
I made my kids take their bags of everything to our garage and then I explained to them calmly what I was doing and why. I told them that they could do without their items and clothes for an indefinite period of time due to it being mistreated. I did give my kids a week’s worth of clothes to wash and wear – but nothing else.
At first, my children thought it wasn’t a big deal and actually enjoyed the scarcity in their newly cleaned rooms. Then as days went by, and they wanted to play with something, they realized that they didn’t have the toy or game they wanted. After a while, my kids got tired of wearing the same outfits, especially my girls, and didn’t think the sanction was cool any longer.
It felt right to teach them this lesson at this point in our lives as my kids needed to appreciate their blessings. They had reached a state of not being grateful for what they had, which was my fault in a way for not emphasizing enough about living with minimalism and gratitude.
At the beginning of all this, I was truly fed-up from years of telling my kids to pick up their stuff and put it away, that I wanted to give most to charity. I thought that I would leave my kids with a handful of precious items and some clothes and they’d be just fine. However, when I calmed down and noted that they were feeling the lesson and it was the first time I tried this, mercy set in and I thought I would give them another chance.
Though I did feel that my kids had too much stuff and seeing that we were on the path to living more minimalist, I didn’t give them everything back. I allowed them to choose the things they most needed and most loved, and to discard anything they could live without. I bagged their discarded toys and clothes and dropped it at Goodwill.
Over time, my children didn’t miss any of the stuff we gave away, and I realized that they did have too much. In a way they also seemed happier to have less stuff to take care of and to keep tidy. I knew that over the years, I had bought more than they needed, so this was a lesson not only for them, but for me as well.
I am not saying that what I did will cure children of their untidiness and ingratitude, but the drastic lesson did impact our family positively. My children realized what they had when I took it away, and I learned to buy less and only when needed. Maybe one day we’ll need another refresher to remember our blessings, but for now, it will stay with us for a while.