Ok moms and dads, I need your input. Normally I post my witty thoughts, insightful self discoveries or crazy experiences with the family, but today I am looking for a little help from all of the experienced parents out there.
I believe this mother/child battle goes way back, possibly even to the caveman days when junior would leave his rocks and mammoth bones lying about the cave. You know what I am talking about…the battle of the messy room!
My normal parenting philosophy would be to let my son experience the consequences of his actions…if he wants to live in that mess, then we will just close the door and he can deal with it when he is sick of digging through the various piles in order to find the toy of the hour. Unfortunately, nothing we do here seems to be easy. We also throw in a shared room between a neat older brother and a messy younger brother.
I have made several attempts to clean and organize the room, creating space for each boy. While the older brother (age 9) isn’t a complete neat freak, he does do a good job of putting his clothes in the hamper and keeping his things off the floor. The younger brother (age 6) does not. It is a good day if his clothes make it within a 5 foot radius of the hamper. He pulls out 10 toys at a time and leaves them strewn around the room. Of course he doesn’t pull out the big, easy to clean up toys. We are talking about army men, knights, various board games, etc. Anything with lots of little pieces will do.
When we do order him to pick everything up, the toys get picked up and thrown in a corner or shoved under the bed. I feel bad for the older brother and totally understand his frustration with his younger sibling. I don’t blame him for getting upset and begging for a room of his own at least once a week. I wouldn’t want to sleep in that chaos every night either.
Upon threat of throwing things away, the younger brother will make an attempt to straighten up a bit but the mess always returns in a matter of days, if not hours.
So, this is where I need your help. What do we do? How do we teach the younger brother to clean up after himself without punishing the older brother by forcing him to live in a messy bedroom? I’d love to hear your strategies!