Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Adjusting Expectations

One piece of advice my mom had for me when my son was born: "Don't be too fastidious". That is to say, don't have expectations of the house being in perfect shape all the time now that I have a kid.

She knows what she's talking about. As a kid, I rarely cleaned up as I went. It wasn't on purpose. It just did not occur to me, ever, to clean up anything until I was asked. Kids don't have radars for work that needs doing, and in fact I think they have selective filters. My parents would get home and say to my siblings and me, sprawled on the couch, "didn't you NOTICE the breakfast dishes still on the table when you came home from school?"

Kid Me: Too busy reading Archie Comics

When it was time to clean my room, no fooling, once Kid Me actually brought up a leaf rake to first bring everything into a pile in the middle of the room. Somehow, if the floor was clean save for one giant heap, it seemed more manageable to go through.

As I got older, though, I realized that these giant clean-ups due to procrastination were for chumps. It's much easier to clean as you go than to spend half of Saturday digging yourself out.
So now Adult Me much prefers the relaxing feeling of a clean and organized environment, and I could achieve that with a little effort and maintenance.

Until now.

 Small children are, metaphorically speaking, the plows that put snow back in your driveway after you've shoveled. Everything gets pulled off and out of its place. Such curiosity. Such mayhem. And he's not even officially walking yet. I know, don't tell me. It's gonna get worse. 

Even the baby book I have informs moms of mobile babies and toddlers to accept the mess at this point, embrace it even, because it would be a lesson in futility to constantly follow after your kid and try to clean up (not to mention, not much fun).

But, but, but, I protest! If I let my guard down for even a moment, this is what would happen:

So it's time to set limits but adjust my expectations, lest I become a humourless all-day cleaning machine. He's gotta be able to check things out a bit. And hey! I have to have my own time too, right? So leave the books there on the floor for now! I'm not in leaf rake territory just yet.

In the meantime, I remind myself that the mess won't be forever. I model 'clean up!' for my son, singing the song (to make it fun, or something) as we put blocks back in the bucket, in the aim that he'll eventually be able to clean up after his adventures. Even if it's never on his radar.

In fact, my dear boy already puts things in the garbage for us. This includes my husband's watch, mind you, but it's a start.

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