Clean up, Pick up, Tidy up

As she picks up a small pair of socks lying innocently on the family room couch, or pauses to scoop up a pair of snow pants strewn across the floor, a modern mother sighs. Is she sighing because mid-to-late January is supposed to be the saddest time of year? Or, is she simply reflecting on how monotonous it can be: the packing of lunches, the shaking out of jackets and mittens and hats, the lining up of the boots on the boot tray, the unloading and reloading of the dishwasher, the constant clean up, pick up, tidy up.

Yes, the wise mother knows the day will come when her children pick up after themselves. But it can be hard to see how, exactly, that will ever come about.  There are, of course, a multitude of strategies she could use to get her children to tidy up more, to help them help themselves, to create independent and responsible children.  

The stereotypical well-heeled, well-educated suburban mother might pursue those strategies with the vehemence that the now notorious Tiger mother puts into piano practice.  But after early experience with baby books touting specific plans to achieve specific results (e.g., Baby Wise), this mother is wary of overly prescriptive advice and ambitious efforts to re-engineer her children’s behavior.

So she will have to be content to nudge her children along as best she can, attempt a select few strategies gleaned from those advice books, keep trying, and remain confident that these small individuals with a penchant for strewing stuffed animals, small toy parts and articles of clothing throughout their homes will likely grow into responsible, kind and trustworthy individuals. 

Besides, if a recent Wall Street Journal article is to be believed, any parental orchestration of the “home environment pales in comparison to the power of genes and peer group.” Guess it’s time to go start meddling in friendships or, at the very least, fretting over who might be a "bad influence." That should keep her busy until around June 17th, which is thankfully forecast to be the happiest day of the year.  


Kate said...

it is indeed the saddest time of year. i dislike cold weather and january. Oh, and I'm glad my daughter has some sweet friends. Very glad. We will be keeping a close eye on her because i think i will know from experience who the bad influences are. ps: you have a boot tray?

Anonymous said...

This modern mother can bear almost all aspects of the picking up and tidying up--with the exception of socks. Why socks, specifically, I cannot say. However,a new penalty system of $1 per sock left on the floor, payable to the kitchen counter piggy bank, has resulted in fewer infractions and small egos intact.

Anonymous said...

i used to not be able to imagine a day when they could speak and be toilet trained. so i guess someday they will actually care about how their room looks. someday.

EHP said...

Kate: Boot tray, yes. As a native Marylander, I never would have predicted I would have ended up on such familiar terms with a boot tray. Boot trays, in fact.

Anonymous 1: Love the penalty plan. Might have to try it.

Anonymous 2: If the mess were confined to their rooms, I wouldn't worry about it either. Its everywhere else I am thinking of...

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