Saturday, March 19, 2011

Lessons In Life Skills

Ten hours later and my boys are still alive. It’s quite surprising really. What did we do for ten hours on what, I imagine, was a beautiful spring day? We cleaned the world’s dirtiest bedroom.

I saw things unimaginable – things a mother should never see. But three garage sale boxes, four plastic grocery bags of Webkins, and two giant stretchy garbage bags of trash later we finished. Now I’m taking the “this-is-what-a-clean-room-looks-like” photos. 004

It would probably feel a little better if I could blame it all on the boys, but the real truth is they were poorly trained. Their momma dropped the ball on that one. The good news is, at 13 and 11 it’s not too late to learn these life lessons and make some changes.

I’m hopeful that we had some breakthrough moments and we can avoid being on a future episode of “Hoarders” - The stuffed toys edition.

009I’m convinced that you can’t tell a child to “go clean your bedroom” and expect it to be cleaned. It has to be taught. I’ve tried several techniques over the years but their success depends on the depth of the dirt filth.

If it’s not too bad, just some things that have gotten out of place, I like telling them to start with the three largest things. Usually, that means making the bed first and then picking up the next two largest toys, blankets, furniture – whatever. The theory behind my method is that they see progress quickly and are encouraged to continue, though I have to send them back for “the next three largest things.”

Sometimes, it’s a little worse. If I’m too busy doing my own thing to be in the room with them I might direct them to start by picking up everything in one category then returning to me for more instructions – I might give directions like “start with all the laundry” then maybe “all the trash”, “all the books”, “all the Legos”. Beware, this method can backfire if Legos are the main problem (which they tend to be for us…) or if you have a highly distractible child (which I have three of…)

On this particular day we used a team approach. We all worked together (even the little sister helped out) and mom directed the forces. We did a “category” clean combined with a “largest objects” clean. I started by removing all the Legos from the room. (I say “all” but what I mean is “all the Legos I could see on the surface… then as we came across more of them they were tossed in a centrally located container to join the others later.)

Now we’re teaching/learning how to keep it this way – not letting it get out of control. I think the real key is having less to care for (garage sale fodder and just plain trash) and a reminder during the day to get things back in order, then a final quick pick-up before bedtime.

Overall, it was a really good day. We spent some time talking about what’s really important to us and why it’s important to us – why we feel compelled to keep all this junque and continue to add to our collections. We discussed “the Rich Young Ruler” of Matthew 19:16 and our treasure and our heart being in the same place (Luke 12:24). I heard a great bible teacher say something profound last week. He was teaching about “addictions”. He said:

“We’re created to be addicted – to God. When you look at what an addiction does to a person’s life there’s really nothing wrong with those things if GOD is the addiction. If we plan our life around Him and we can’t get enough of Him and we’d sell everything we had to get more of Him that’d be a good thing. But the theory is that if you are not in love with and obsessed with God then you just need to ask the question what is your addiction? Because it’s something else.”


My kids aren’t the only ones with a problem. How many “things” in my life do I give more importance to than time with my Savior? The good news is, at 42 it’s not too late to learn this life lesson and make some changes.


  1. Great post Sara! My 2 favorite subjects, organizing and child-training. It sounds like you did a great job and spent some quality time together. Lisa~

  2. Sara I love your post. I am a new follower here stoppin by from the HHM! I too LOVE to organize and clean and feel great once a room looks like your pictures!

  3. Thanks for the advice - my older 2 keep a clean ship but the younger 2 will need this training - will start on it now :)

    popped over from HHM

  4. Fabulous post. So true. Came by from the HHH to say hi!

  5. Love your post. Stopping by on the Hip Homeschool Hop from Homeschool Science Press!

  6. I agree, a great post! I usually do send the kids up to clean their rooms, but a few times a year it needs to be a project where mom is involved.
    Here from HHH.

  7. Did you just pull this post and information right out of my head? We're in the same boat. Did not train well. I tell my child to do the exact same things you do. I need to do a good clean out with her this weekend. Thanks for the push. I like the idea of referring to the Ruler. I will do that. Thanks for sharing! I found you via HHH.

  8. Hi, Sara! Thanks so much for stopping by my blog and taking the time to leave a sweet comment. Thank you for all the kind comments on the laundry room. I'm so thankful for it. You should have seen it before the remodel. It was scary to even go in there. I admit that laundry isn't quite the chore it was before. I love having the counter space on which to fold clothes. It really makes a huge difference!

    Loved your post. I have only one baby boy who is not quite one year old, and I know how fast he can trash his room! I am amazed at how quickly he works...clearing out all the bottom shelves of the book cases, unpacking the toy baskets, throwing the stuffed animals all over the room. I just sit and watch...utterly amazed...seriously. Thanks for the smile. The room looks great!

    Many blessings,


Thanks for stopping by. It warms my heart that you would take the time to comment. Well... If you said something nice it warms my heart...

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