This morning was typical for my youngest daughter. Once again, she couldn't find her shoes. I tell her to take them off and leave them on the shoe rack when she comes in the door, but now that the weather's nice, she forgets. So there we were, frantically looking through the house for the missing pair of runners.
She insisted they were left on the rack the night before, and someone must have moved them. Right. We all wait for her to go to bed and then hide her shoes, just to torment her. I told her I had better things to do with my time, like think up new chores for her. She went back into the basement to check the family room one more time while I checked her bedroom. The disaster that greeted me was no surprise. I pushed a pile of dirty clothes out of the way and checked under the bed. No shoes.
She finally found them in the basement and left for school, slamming the door behind her, mad at me for nagging her about her mess again. That did it. I grabbed a garbage bag, some upbeat music, and banished myself to her room. The only child I had at the house today came to help me and together we organized some things and tossed others. Then we did some rearranging of furniture. The project took me the entire day.
I learned a long time ago to pick my battles as a parent. Getting the kids to clean their bedrooms is one I don't fight very often. I remind and encourage, but I don't lock them in their rooms until the job is done. When they were younger, I would go in every couple months and do thorough clean, but I've only done that once to her room since I started babysitting three years ago.
I figured she would be quite angry with me, and when she saw the vacuum and a few boxes in the hallway, she scowled and I thought I was in for it. She went into the room and started to cry. Then she threw her arms around me and said she loved it.
After I told her how much dust I found under the bed and on the shelves and explained how much it affected her asthma and allergies, she finally seemed to hear what I was saying. The before and after pictures helped, too. I think she got so used to the mess she didn't realize how bad it had become. Hopefully with a little daily encouragement, we can keep it looking nice. So I didn't get anything else done today, but I did complete an overwhelming task and make a little girl feel good.