One for One and Everyone Wins
So I've been pretty lax lately about the standards WE have had for my son's room... it went a long time without a good cleaning / re-organization. Actually now that I'm reflecting on the meaning of those words it was more like "a pick up" was all that was needed. I know that some parents say that the kids' rooms are their own rooms to keep as they like... and I feel it is my responsibility as a parent to assist the kids in developing good habits and routines regarding how they keep their space. My son's room hit the tipping point literally this past weekend after having a friend over for a sleepover. They must have dumped every basket of toys out into the middle of the room, perfect for small Play Mobile and Lego pieces to be scattered about and broken underfoot. I'm all for a good play AND when you're done with the toys, put them back where you found them... that demonstrates you like the toy and you're responsible enough to have the toy. So yesterday, after my son did his homework, we went to work on his room. I'm OK with helping him with it but I WILL NOT DO IT FOR HIM.
So to meet that end I have adopted a technique that I've actually had to use to maintain equitably in other relationships/contexts as well. I think the concept is known as "mirroring" and here is how it played out with my son. I told him I was willing to help him clean his room but I was not going to do it for him as it is ultimately his responsibility in the first place... so... I was willing to actively engage in cleaning up his room for as long as he was actively engaged in cleaning up his room... essentially, I mirror his activity level. When he sorts piles, I do something that helps... when he stops picking up and starts playing, I remind him by asking him if we're done, and he would say no, then I'd remind him that now isn't the time to play, it's time to clean up, and we'd resume. So basically, he'd pick up a toy, I'd pick up a toy... not exactly one for one but you get the picture.
I've actually used this technique before when my partner and I decided to spend the morning cleaning up the house together. If I'm working in the kitchen and I go out to the living room and see him sitting with a book, in the past I'd feel frustrated and angry with him for the inequity of it all... but now... utilizing the mirroring technique I'd actually go get a book or magazine and sit down with him and just appreciate the break we're enjoying together. It doesn't mean the house won't get clean... it just does so at a different pace than what I'd normally expect and the best part is... I don't do it all myself then resent everyone for the inequity of it all.
I think a key here for me is that I realized that if I chose to do all the work... that would be my choice and I couldn't blame others for how I feel... it was my choice to put my head down and whirlwind clean the house. It's like, I was mad at him for an action that I'd choose to do... so mirroring has helped establish equitability and a more balanced home.