Friday, August 14, 2015

Cleaning with the Kiddos: A Rite of Passage

I’m busy. I am a mom, a partner, a full-time manager, a priest, and a grad student. Actually, I’m very busy. When I first sat down to write today, I thought I’d be writing about that—about how being busy means it is more important than ever to seek balance in your relationships, and about how finding time for self-care is necessary to decrease and alleviate burnout.

And then I got frustrated with the younger two children.

I’ve been telling them to clean their rooms for months, and because I am busy, I’ve let them slide with the occasion load of laundry leaving their rooms and habitual round-up of dishes. Yesterday, I decided to take the time to “Mommy clean” their rooms. This is usually met with tears and sadness. “Mommy clean” means I go in with garbage bags and throw away anything that is gross, broken, or old and without sentimental value.

Timmy was a trooper. I had to reassure him several times that he was not in trouble, but for the first time, he didn’t lose his cool and have an emotional breakdown. He had a couple moments of sadness, but we were able to talk through it and finish the task together. I am so proud of how far he has come!

In Jessica’s room, my goal was mostly to get rid of all the clothes that are too small to make room—and then I opened her closet. Piled high with blankets and stuffed animals, boxes and bags, random shoes and clothes and who knows what else, her closet looked like an entropy-bomb went off inside. We decided we needed to clean the closet.

Over the next two hours, we pulled everything out and sorted it. We filled eight garbage bags full of trash and donations. This simple purge of her room became a right of passage. Jessica made some choices as she was looking through her life, through everything she owns, and began to throw away the little girl that she once was. She threw away broken crayons, old drawings, shoes, games, and her Barbies. I sat with her as we remembered all the little memories that lived in each of those old things and made room for who she is to become.