Who should clean the kids bedroom? Some say it is the responsibility of the kid while others say it is the parents. I agree with both – to an extent – and I’ll explain why (and give six tips for cleaning the chaos in your kids bedroom). Chores are difficult for a person living with fibromyalgia, so it’s important for the kiddos to help however they can in respect to their age. However, sometimes parents have to dive into the chaos and do some deep cleaning and purging every once and awhile.
This article first appeared in The Fibromyalgia Magazine, June 2019. Get the digital copy of the magazine from Pocketmags.
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Shuffling Through the Mess
Ouch! “What was that?!” I mutter as I stumble through the minefield of toys littering the floor of my youngest daughter’s bedroom. Deciding it’s better to do a shuffle rather than risking injury to my foot again, I inch my way to her bed – clearing a path as I go to make the return trip easier and less painful – to give her a hug and kiss goodnight.
As I shower her with kisses, Abby remarks accusingly, “You didn’t clean my room today.”
“I know, I know. I’ll get to it tomorrow.” I tell her as convincingly as I can muster. At this point of a long and tiring day, my efforts are futile and fall short.
“You said that yesterday, mommy,” she says in a tone to that of a disgruntled employer to me, her slacking employee.
Sadly, she is right. I did tell her yesterday. And the day before that. And, yes, the day before that. You see my pattern. Her and I both know the tomorrow of cleaning will only come when I’ve been pushed to the absolute edge of it all. The edge being the point when cleaning is the only way I will be able to safely retrieve my child from the mess that is her room which she alone has created.
After all, she is only seven years old, and cleaning for her age lasts a whopping fifteen seconds before she’s distracted by that Barbie over there or a random, lost LEGO piece over there. In essence, she is like me; showing interest in anything other than the daunting task at hand.
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Chores Hurt (But Have Benefits)
Doing household chores can be a literal pain for a fibro parent. Living with fibromyalgia means my body will overreact if overexerted physically or mentally. And ‘overexerted’ is vastly different for a body riddled with chronic pain, inflammation, and fatigue.
For example, too many minutes spent washing dishes at one time or vacuuming more than one room in one day can have grievous outcomes. This is why pacing is my frenemy, resting is my sidekick and self-care is my best friend. The trifecta of pacing, resting, and self-care help to minimize the possibility of a flare, but does not eradicate it altogether.
Having the family chip in with the chores helps tremendously as well (this includes cleaning their bedroom). Giving age-appropriate chores to each child will give them several benefits including
- responsibility and accountability,
- how to care for their belongings,
- how to work as a family unit, and
- learn that work does have benefits earning rewards.
Wait. If I’m saying chores have benefits for kids and it includes cleaning their bedroom, then why this topic of me cleaning their bedroom? Good question. Let me explain.
Your chore or theirs?
Even though my kids have daily and weekly chores, their bedrooms seem to accumulate hidden ‘treasures’. It builds ever so slowly that you can’t see the changes with the naked eye. You just walk into their room one day and BOOM – there you are ankle deep in a conglomeration of broken slinkies, tangled cords, and forgotten must-have toys. I’ve seen it all – from the gooey slime hanging like stalactites peppering their ceilings to the pools of gum caked into the carpet of each dark corner.
Let’s get real here and not fool ourselves any longer – the kids’ bedrooms WILL become absolute mayhem despite our valiant efforts of sharing chores. Kids are kids, bottom line. Period. We cannot expect them to clean, organize, and sift through their bedrooms with a fine tooth comb the way parents can. In fact, it’s not fair – to child or parent – to have these expectations. It only adds frustration and disappointment to the situation.
Here are some tips for clearing the kids clutter from Andrea Dekker.
6 Tips for Cleaning the Chaos
So I ask – what’s the best way to get the kids’ rooms cleaned when it has reached this point of destruction? Throwing away all the broken toys, giving away the discarded books, and donating the outgrown clothes is a big task. And one that will leave me resting for days if not approached appropriately. Here are six tips for cleaning the chaos in your kids bedroom.
Set a Timer
To maintain peace between my frenemy pacing and me, I set a timer for twenty minutes when starting any physical task. It’s a bad habit of mine to start a chore and keep going until completion. The reason is when the adrenaline starts pumping, the pain and exhaustion are not felt until it’s too late. This is when the timer comes in handy.
I have found that twenty minutes of work is my limit. When the timer marks the end of the time, I set another timer to rest for ten minutes. The cycle of work and rest continues until the job is complete. It does mean it will take longer than if I worked nonstop, but pacing respects my physical limits while minimizing the chances of a flare.
The amount of time for working will vary from person to person, so find your body’s limits in small increments. Set a timer for five minutes and take note of how you feel at the end of those minutes. If you’re okay, slowly increase until you find what is comfortable for you. No matter your limit, be sure to set a timer so you don’t get carried away with the task and overextend your body’s capability.
Turn on the Tunes
According to the article “Is Listening to Music Good for Your Health”, Time magazine reported that listening to music can help lower depression, improve blood flow, and ease pain. Your dance tunes can also take your focus off of what you are doing and make the time go by more smoothly.
So crank up your favorite music while you battle your way through the action figures, misfit toys, and whatever that is over there. If nothing else, this is a good opportunity to practice your super cool parent dance moves without embarrassing your kids.
Do It Alone
Aside from the freedom to dance as you please, this level of cleaning should be done alone. We all have some degree of attachment to material things rather we care to admit it or not. Some attachment may be stronger than others, but either way it’s there. Because of this, it’s better to declutter and purge without your kids. (If you’re worried about your kiddo holding onto items for fear of you tossing it when they aren’t looking, be sure to read the next tip about making piles.)
There was a time I was hesitant to do this type of cleaning alone because there was an instance where I threw away something thinking it was trash and it turned out to be my daughter’s keepsake. As a result, she has resorted to hoarding (a term not used lightly here) and hiding her items. However, there is a way to do it alone and avoid throwing away treasure – make piles.
Make three distinct piles when cleaning your kid’s bedroom.
- Trash: Throw away the obvious trash such as candy wrappers, crumpled up paper and dried out play-doh.
- Donation: For the outgrown clothes, games with missing pieces, and similar items.
- Uncertain pile: The items you’re uncertain are trash, keepsake, or still played with, place in the uncertain pile.
When you’re finished, grab your kiddo and work through the uncertain pile together. This lets your child know that his/her feelings are valued when going through their belongings. They can help decide if it’s trash or going to be donated and won’t feel the need to hold onto each item in fear of it being tossed when they aren’t looking.
Each time I dive into the battle of mom-vs-kid-bedroom, I promise myself it won’t get that way again. And yet, I found myself cleaning these pits of horror time and again…and again. So first things first – be realistic. It will happen again. It’s not your fault or a failure on your part. It is what it is and will happen despite your best efforts.
Do not beat yourself up over this. It’s not worth it. The best thing you can do is know that the mess will happen, you have a plan of attack, and you will work through it one dance move at a time. Fibro parenting is tough, that’s no lie. But you know what? You kick ass as a fibro parent whether you recognize it or not, and no amount of stuff is going to derail you from that thinking – you got me?
Pssst…I periodically share my wonderful mess on my Facebook page, Being Fibro Mom, via live videos. Stop over and say hi!