Cleaning up our messes

Lately I’ve been having what seems to be a never ending struggle with my daughter and her room. Every day I ask her to clean it up and every day she assures me she will. I believe she believes herself when she promises to do so, but I think she suffers from what I often suffer from. The feeling of being overwhelmed by all the stuff. So rather than taking on small tasks and doing a little at a time, she gives up and simply lives in the mess. I’ve been tempted to clean it for her on several occasions. Have done so, actually. But I want her to take ownership of her space.

Alas, we are at an impass. Because if I allow her to take ownership of it, I must also accept that her room will never be as neat as I want it to be. I have to surrender control to her. Lately, that’s what I’ve done. I’ve simply avoided being in her room for any extended period of time.

Until this morning.

After she had left for school, I took a deep breath, promised myself I would not come unglued, and ventured into the land of unseen carpet. It was bad, but I’ve seen it in worse shape. I decided that rather than doing a major overhaul, I would simply put everything into manageable piles.

I’ve decided on a new plan of attack. Rather than demanding that she keep it clean all by herself, rather than getting fed up and doing it all myself, we’re going to sort through the mess together.

Because sometimes little girls get overwhelmed. Small messes become bigger messes and try as they might, they can’t ever seem to get to a place where things are right again all by themselves. They need someone who has been where they are to say, “It’s okay. You don’t have to do this all by yourself. I’m here to help you find your way out of this mess, and once it’s clean again you can manage it on your own again. But just remember, you’re never really alone. I’m always here to lend a helping hand. All you have to do is ask.”

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