The Messy House and Keeping Up SyndromeMichelle Balaun
Messy House? Keeping up? Planning Activities?
Ok, straighten your messy bun, pour a cup of coffee, read on. Many people fall into the trap of thinking that since they are home more often now, chores should be a breeze. However, what they don’t take into consideration is the amount of work that gets done around the house, leaving those desired projects on the sidelines. With the kids and other adults at home more often, there is more to clean up and organize. Messy seems to be everyone’s middle name. The other day I did a rough approximation and in my household of 3, I wash approximately 70 plates a week without counting the cups, pots, and pans ( it was also a good math assignment for my kids). When they did the math with me, their jaws dropped followed by, “No wonder you’re always in the kitchen, Mami.” Yes, no wonder.
The degree to which a house is orderly can be a barometer of emotional health for a perfectionist. A picture-perfect house can be a sign of desiring control over emotional turmoil in the perfectionist’s mind. A rambunctiously messy place can be a sign of depression or f#4$ it all mentality. For the one who craves orderliness in their outer world to feel calm within, these days can be a bit more grueling, because it is easy to fall trap to “ it only takes a few seconds to get this and this done,” and before you know it, a few seconds have turned into a few hours and it’s time for lunch. Some people use the messiness in their house as a way to procrastinate from getting the work done – it is a lot to adjust to the uncertainty of life and an easy way to get away from that is by focusing on the menial daily tasks. However, this soon creates a burden on the perfectionist. Cue in the typical chore charts for the kids- which last approximately 2.5 days on the fridge. Cue in the arguments with the other adults about leaving the towels on the floor or the dirty dishes by the couch and “how many steps does it take you to put it in the sink” chorus. Like I said messy is everyone in the house’s middle name.
So if chore charts and nagging don’t work. What will? Systems. Our children learn to be the line leader, table wiper, sweeper, etc at school, those skills don’t miraculously disappear when they come home. Don’t underestimate the power of your child’s ability to help and feel validated by helping. Actually, scratch that. It isn’t helping – it is cooperating, it is being a part of the family unit and chores are a part of the family unit. Before you create the charts and think about what chores are developmentally friendly and whatnot, think about your feelings around chores and enlisting the service of your child. Many parents are gung-ho about this, but when the moment arises, they are quick to do it for their child, whether or not they complain about it later, that’s a different story. Our perspective on parenting means everything- once we gain clarity, then we can hold ourselves and others accountable for a better flow at home. If you find yourself struggling, feeling bad about asking for help, resentful for doing it all alone, then maybe by talking it out and finding your blind spots will help.
Download a list of chores by age from Dr. Eva.