Elle and I have an ongoing battle over her bedroom. I want it clean and it is usually messy:
I am determined not to nag her day in and day out, so I tried a few different strategies:
I tried putting marbles in a jar every time she cleaned it and when the jar was full we would do an activity of her choice which was usually Easy Bake. (Does anyone else hate Easy Bake as much as me?) That worked for a few months.
After the marbles died out, I tried not letting her play with friends until her room was cleaned. Many weeks, she just didn’t play with any friends. Even missing a sleepover with cousins wasn’t motivation to clean her room. When Friday came around she decided to clean it if something fun were going to happen.
I tried helping her clean her room multiple times– thinking maybe she just didn’t know what she was supposed to do or was just overwhelmed. I showed her little tips along the way to help make the process faster and be easier. She wasn’t interested.
I even ignored the messy room for days on end—choosing not to make an issue of it. That worked for her, but not so much for me.
None of my strategies were a win-win so I decided to try another idea last week.
I cleaned up Elle’s whole room one day while she was gone–complete with fluffed pillows and tucked sheets. Then I left her a cheesy love note on her pillow. Something about “I love you whether your room is messy or clean; whether you are nice or mean…” (I told you it was cheesy.)
I got this warm fuzzy idea from my mom. I remember, after months of battling over my brother’s (much messier) bedroom, she cleaned his room for him while he was at school. She left “I love you” on his pillow. She realized a messy room wasn’t worth fighting over or worth the cost of their relationship. (On a side note, she found a bottle of vodka in his drawer while she was cleaning. Obviously, she had much bigger battles to fight than a messy bedroom.)
I guess you gotta know each child as an individual and know when you should advance and when you should retreat.
Luckily, Elle’s room was alcohol free and she did run down the stairs and hug me when she saw her room. She kept it clean for a few days, but we are back to messy. But I still like to think that a little act of unexpected love made a difference– if for only a day.
(I think I might just surprise my kids next week and do one of their chores for them.)