I've been threatening the children for ages that, if they didn't make an effort to clean up their rooms and put at least some things away, I'd put pictures of the disaster areas on the internet (I know - I'm cruel!). Well ... my threats, bribes and tears of frustration had absolutely no impact, and on Saturday I gave up and blitzed Miss Tizz's room.
The husband was dispatched to obtain sturdy packing cartons. The children were warned that this was their last opportunity to put away (PROPERLY! DON'T JUST SHOVE IT IN THE BACK OF THE CUPBOARD BECAUSE I WILL FIND IT! I AM YOUR MOTHER AND YOU HAVE NO SECRETS!) things they didn't want to lose, and were given the chance to participate in the cleansing operation. They opted to opt out, which I figured meant I had a mandate to do whatever I deemed necessary (mainly for my sanity).
Understand that the photo below was taken a few months ago, and it got worse. Much, much worse. Clothes, shoes, toys, books, important things for school and Guides, CDs, hair bands, pencils, and paper. Lots and lots of paper with notes and drawings. Ephemeral stuff, a lot of it, never to be looked at again.
She couldn't get to the cupboard easily for the stuff, so clothes were piled on whatever surface was handy. She's a prolific reader, and tends to have three or four books on the go at any one time, but they were rarely put away once read. And I was busy, so I let it go on way too long.
I realise it's my job as a parent to teach her to deal with these things, and I let her down. So we've decided to go back to basics in some ways, and start afresh, and hope to do a better job this time.
So ... on Saturday I started with clothes. I sorted out the things that could be hung or folded and put away, and dealt with them first. Other things of indeterminate cleanliness were diverted to the laundry. Two big packing cartons were moved in, and most of her toys, those papers and other items were sorted into rubbish, recycling, store and keep piles. The 'store' pile was packed into the cartons, sealed up and is under her bed, not to be opened until further notice. The very small 'keep' pile consists of items that she uses frequently, or which are needed for a specific purpose. The rubbish and recycling piles went straight out the door to the bins.
And now she has room to breathe.
We're not finished, but it's made a huge difference. We still need to cull books (or build a library!), deal with the two cartons, sort and cull clothes, and more, but for now we're going to keep on top of what's left in her room and see how we go over the next few months.
I don't think she'll miss most of it. We had a quiet chat after the storm had passed, and she was relieved that the *stuff* was gone. It was all too much for an almost-8-year-old, and she couldn't deal with the conflict of wanting it gone and not being able to decide what should go. And quite frankly I've been expecting far too much from her and not doing a lot to guide her.
This parenting gig is hard.
But onward ... next stop - the X-man's room.