Are you constantly cleaning up after your child?

Bharti Athray | Dec 5, 2019

Do you find yourself repeatedly saying the same thing to your child, every single day? About keeping the uniform in place, clearing the toys after play, not eating on the bed… you know, the usual stuff that we moms go crazy over?

Well, I have two boys, and their room is usually a mess when I get home in the evenings after work. For the longest time, I would get home and immediately start clearing up their stuff, and when I was done, I would be exhausted and irritated. It put me in a bad mood that would often get further aggravated by the fact that maybe one of them had not finished his homework, or the other one’s class book was incomplete.

Stressful interaction with kids
This was impacting my interaction with my children in a serious way. I found myself scolding and correcting them almost 90% of the time that we spent together, and this did not fit into my idea of good parenting.

Insights from other parents
After speaking to a few parents with older children, I realized it was important for me to teach the boys to pick up their stuff and clear their space. If I kept doing it for them, they would never learn. So I decided to help them understand that coming home to a messy room after a long day at work and through terrible city traffic, was really upsetting me. We had a chat around the fact that they needed to pitch in and help in the family so everyone including me could have some ‘chill time’.

The change
With this perspective, things slowly began to change. The room is still messy when I get home, but all I need to do is ask them to stop whatever it is they are doing at the time and come to the room. In a matter of minutes, both the boys sort out their clothes, books, playthings; and the room becomes usable again.

My learning: Teach your children to be responsible
As a mother, this has been a big learning for me. We often get into the ‘doing’ mode just to maintain the peace in the home, but we forget that in the process, our children are missing out on the learning of being independent. By cleaning up the room each evening, and putting things in their place, the children no longer need me to get their stuff the next morning when they need it. They know where it is. So that takes pressure off me in the mornings as well.

A great time to connect
Further, as I supervise them cleaning the space, it gives me an opportunity to teach them a few fundamental life skills like the importance of keeping things neatly, maintaining one’s own space and other such things. Over time, these few minutes of cleaning up have become our sharing time. We share our stories of the day, our victories, our defeats – it’s a great way to have my kids’ attention without me having to fight to get them off their screens.

Invite your child to pitch in
So if you are one of those moms who is constantly doing the cleaning for your kid, I suggest you give it a break, and invite your child to pitch in. I have found the children are more than happy to help around the house, if only we are open to involving them!

Bharti Athray

Bharti is a mom of two boys: 18 and 11; and a full-time advertising professional running her own creative communications agency in Mumbai. She has a love of history, mythology, mysticism, culture, literature and more. She has been writing for herself since she was 7 or 8; and writing professionally for more than 2 decades now. She enjoys her parenting journey, believes it is a critical life skill and that there is much that mothers can share and learn from each other. Her articles are her way of reaching out to others in the community who could do with a few words of encouragement and comfort on this happy, bumpy, crazy ride.