A friend recently posted this Huffington Post article on Facebook, where a mom blogger declares it’s normal to constantly have laundry piled in every room and to have trash covering the floor of your car.
It made me cringe.
Look, I am a mom. I understand it’s hard to keep everything straight all the time. But I disagree with this mom. I don’t think it’s normal or healthy for your children to live in constant chaos.
And right here, I will tell you the secret to solving the problem:
Have less stuff.
If you have laundry piled in every room, you have too many clothes. Children need about 5 to 7 of everything because we are constantly doing laundry. (My son only wears one shirt and one pair of shorts even in 30-degree weather, so he could probably get away with having one of everything.)
If your children refuse to wear a particular shirt, put it in a give-away bag. I have friends with children younger than mine who get our hand-me-downs. They get bags at least twice a season as I see what my kids won’t wear from their hand-me-down collections.
Another way I keep laundry from piling up: My children, who are five and six, are responsible for folding and putting away their clothes. They also have to fold the cloth napkins we use at meals.
What if they refuse to fold clothes? You ask. Trust me, it happens plenty of times here. We issue consequences. If they refuse to fold their clothes, they lose those clothes.
It’s never been problem.
The mom blogger also declares this normal:
“Normal: Your kids’ bath toys are right where they left them after the bathwater drained…
“Normal: You can’t see the floor of your car. Where else are you supposed to toss all those Chick-fil-A cups? Or the spare diapers? Or the dirty sippy cups?”
Um, teach your children to clean up after themselves. Even toddlers can throw away trash. Studies show children are doing fewer chores these days because parents are more reluctant to ask them to do things around the house. And it’s making them less responsible.
We have a house rule: You must put away one activity before taking out another. (They have to convey this rule to their friends when they are playing at our house. #meanmom)
If my children eat in the car, I expect them to bring in their trash. I’ve even explained to them that this is Mommy’s car, and you must respect that by keeping it clean. (It’s also paramount to my job. You better believe people who hire me are looking in my car, and it would not look good if the organizer shows up with trash piled on the floor.)
My children certainly clean up their bath toys, or they will have a consequence of losing said toys.
Why am I so rigid about stuff getting put away? Because stuff causes chaos. Chaos causes stress. Stress causes bad behavior. Children are calmer and happier in minimalist environments. Think of how you feel when you walk into someone’s home, and they have clean lines and few things. You can see people’s shoulders relax.
I did agree with one of the mom-blogger’s “normals,” and that is this:
“Normal: Some part of your house is in do-not-use disrepair, and has been for longer than you would publicly admit.”
Living in a fixer-upper, this is our constant state until I win Power Ball and can renovate the whole thing at once. Right now, it’s just piece by piece. (The good news is I don’t care if the kids spill stuff in our original, 1951 kitchen.)
But replacing the roof and the water heater require money.
Teaching your children to be part of the family community and chip in for the greater good is free. Let’s make this the norm.