messy roomI was so tired of the “Clean your room!” debate. I didn’t like arguing with my daughter every night to pick up the toys she had played with throughout the evening. And my naturally messy little girl was never going to be one of those kids who got one thing out at a time and put it away before moving on to the next toy. I decided to give it all up and let me daughter see what a real mess looked like. So far, the decision has backfired horribly.

It’s been two weeks since I stopped fretting and nagging about the toys and clothes all over my daughter’s floor. True to the plan, she continued to help out with household chores and to pick up her toys when they made their way into the living room. But her room has reached a state of disarray that I did not know was possible. Empty tubs lay overturned on the floor. Laundry, clean and dirty alike, has been strewn an every available surface as my daughter picks out her clothes in the morning or changes into pajamas at night. The room is gross.

The reason I was giving in to this messiness is that I assumed my daughter would lose or beak something and begin to understand why it was important to keep her room mildly clean. I thought the idea of not being able to have friends over to play in her messy room would hang over her head. So far, none of that has materialized.

The few times that my daughter hasn’t been able to find what she was looking for, she’s gotten over the loss pretty quickly. Even her all-important baby blanket didn’t receive more than a resigned, “But I want it…” Then, she moved on and found another lovey to cuddle with that evening. The next day, she located her trusty baby blanket.

The only people who seem annoyed by my daughter’s piles of toys thrown all over the floor are my husband and me. I feel myself getting physically angry when I look at that floor. I’ve caught my husband slyly straightening things up or making the bed. He just can’t help himself. We’re wrecks over this awful messy room. And stepping on some action figure every day is so much worse that nagging about a neat room.

It’s only been two weeks. I don’t feel like I can give up on the plan already without simply confusing my daughter and losing any potential learning experience I wanted this plan to bring. After all, she hasn’t really experienced the negative consequences of messiness yet. Of course, that leaves me partially hoping that she breaks something she really likes in the near future, just so she’ll figure out that throwing things on the floor is not a proper way to take care of them.

I’m going to try to make it two more weeks. I want to give the approach a little more time to prove itself useful. Until then, I’ll just be dreaming of organizing all those bins again. For a girl who used to hate cleaning her room, it is almost amazing how much I am looking forward to putting my daughter’s back into place.

(Photo: John Stebbins/Shutterstock)