Monday, October 25, 2010

Another Reason to De-Clutter: Not Passing on Bad Habits

 Uh Oh!  You know you are passing on bad habits when you walk into a room, declare it a mess and your kids say, “I know!  We need to create space,” and then attempt to do so by containerizing things rather than purging them.  Yep, that is exactly what happened in our home one day recently.  Instead of helping me to weed out some of the clutter (which was mostly toys that the kids had found in a storage area and dragged back into the living room when I was busy one day), the kids decided to simply organize them – covering every surface they could find with a bin or basket of “stuff”.  Not exactlt the best Montessori "prepared environment", I must admit.  But by the end of the afternoon, we were one step closer...
You see, while the kids were in the midst of their attempt to “create space”, I was happy.  I rarely see them so eager to clean up and even more seldomly witness them finish picking up without claiming to be “too tired”, pleading for my help.  So, just their we-can-do-it-ourselves attitude was enough to make me happy as they hurried about containerizing everything.
Yet, upon reflection, I was not so pleased.  For while I am happy that Luke and Nina recognize the value of putting like-things together when sorting clutter and that they understand that bins and baskets can make a room visually more appealing, I am appalled that I have yet to teach them that “less is more.”  You simply cannot clean and organize clutter in a way that will last, right? 
So, once I had “oo”ed and “ahh”ed over the kids’ organizational efforts, helping them to bask in the proud glow of their accomplishment, I gently explained how it’s so much easier to clean a room when there is less stuff in it and how we all feel better when we have more EMPTY space, as opposed a crowded, yet containerized one.  Then, together, Luke, Nina and I decided what we would take out of the room in order to put action to words.
We "made space", Mommy!
Now, for the moment at least, we have a more livable living room (with the pictured plastic bin "seat" above and "extra" on shelves and surfaces removed!).  Mom has come face-to-face with the fact that she has been a poor model to date and is making strides at better mentoring and continuing to prepare our environment for optimum learning and play.  The kids are recognizing that less is more, even when talking containers and bins.  And, we are all continuing to learn the valuable home-keeping lesson:  Getting clutter out (not just into bins and baskets) is definitely the first logical step to organization.
How about you?  Have you caught yourself modeling any less-than-great habits for your kids?  How have you transformed mistakes to learning moments?  Do share in a comment.
This post is being shared at One Hook Wonder's Montessori Monday.  Click on the links there to be wowed by home and traditional educators who have prepared their children's environment far better than we have here at Jammies School thus far.  It is also being shared at Mom's the Word's Making Your Home Sing.  Check out the links there for inspiration on making your house into a home.


Itsy Bitsy Learners said...

I have containers for everything and am VERY bad at purging. More so with the children's things. I have an awful habit of buying the dollar shoe boxes from Wal*Mart and large ziplock bags. I am not sure how to purge their toys ... especially the craft supplies ... That being said if I have to much of one category that spills out of it's container then I will reduce (to make it fit).

momstheword said...

They sure look happy and proud of their accomplishments. When the kids were younger I built a chore-training time into our homeschool schedule, and they were always so happy to show their daddy what they had done that day.

I am pretty good at purging, I can get rid of stuff fairly easily. However, I have a child who doesn't part with stuff as easily as his brother.

But, as you said, that is something that we WANT to teach them. Because otherwise it will be harder for them when they are older.

I used to use birthdays and Christmas as a "natural" purging time. Have to "make room" for any new gifts that might come their way.

Our oldest has always got rid of clutter throughout the years. His latest purge was when he was packing for his out of state college.

The youngest is a saver, but even he gets tired of all his "stuff" and will sort through it from time to time.

It really IS a lot easier to clean when there is less to clean around!

Thanks for linking up to Making Your Home Sing Monday!

Nicole said...

That's definately a great lesson to pass on to our little ones!


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