Today’s Post is from Nony @ A Slob Comes Clean.
I’m the daughter.
The formerly hopelessly disorganized daughter.
Still disorganized, but no longer hopeless.
I’m excited to participate in this series because being a mom and homemaker was my little-girl dream. This dream was modeled, encouraged and instilled by my own mother.
I spoke to my mother about how she dealt with my messiness. She named various strategies, some more successful in her eyes than others, and used words like “timer” and “incentives” and such, but honestly . . . I have zero recollection of the methods she mentioned.
If you are mothering a daughter who seems hopelessly disorganized, let me offer some words of encouragement and advice.
Determine if this is a heart issue or a head issue.
Messiness is an enigma to many naturally organized people (the ones who generally remember why they walked into a room carrying a notepad and a screwdriver). It is not always an act of disobedience or disrespect. If you are a student of your child’s heart, you know the difference.
Is she trying to get under your skin, or does she genuinely not notice the unmade bed? People like me simply don’t see things the way organized people do. Just as you do with any other learning or personality difference, accept and appreciate that her brain may work differently than yours.
Help her find methods that work for her.
Acknowledging that her brain is (wonderfully) different should free you to accept that a failed solution doesn’t mean you have failed as a mother. Start small. Choose the thing that drives you most crazy, and begin with that. If it’s making the bed, don’t nag about anything else until the bed is no longer a battle. Then add another task. Like . . . clothes in the hamper.
Make it clear that you appreciate her wonderful qualities more than you agonize over her frustrating ones.
I’m not guessing when I say that your daughter has wonderful qualities. I am consistently amazed to learn that my fellow slobs are creative, competent women who excel in many different areas. Make a conscious decision to balance your efforts to cure her messiness with your efforts to encourage her gifts.
Teach housekeeping skills.
I knew I would one day be a homemaker, but I had other things to do first. I was one busy girl who didn’t have the motivation to perfect my bread-kneading skills because of all the other fun things I wanted to try. But I did learn to follow a recipe. I could do what needed to be done in the kitchen (when it felt exciting).
In my third year of college, I was excited to have a suite with a bathroom instead of communal showers. Soon, though, I realized private bathrooms meant we had to clean them. Ourselves. I knew how to clean a bathroom. I had skills that my neater, more-organized suite-mates did not. I could sweep, mop, clean a toilet, and get the gunk out of the shower.
Not that I did it much, but at least I knew how.
Control the amount of stuff.
Declutter until you figure out how much she can handle. As a recovering slob, I’ve accepted that the less stuff I have, the better I can keep it under control. Get down to just the essentials. Going with the assumption that she is ultra-creative anyway, I’m guessing her imagination will more than make up for a lack of stuff.
Do what you can, and leave the rest to her and God. (Mmmm-hmmm, the hardest one.)
Right now, you’re the mama. She goes by your rules and routines. Ultimately, though, it will be her life. She will run her own household. They’ll be her bathrooms to clean and her piles to prevent, and she’ll have to figure out how she wants to live and what she needs to do to live that way. Which brings me to the most important point of all.
Don’t sacrifice the relationship.
This is the thing I am most grateful to my own mother for. Yes, my loosi-goosiness frustrated her. My constantly messy room surely made her question her sanity and mothering ability. But she never rejected me. She never allowed the state of my room to determine her expressions of love for me.
When we talked about this post, she said she clearly remembers a time when I was 13. We were having typical mother-daughter issues. I stood in the door of my room, and behind me was one big mess.
She decided in that moment that the state of my bedroom wasn’t going to be our deal-breaker. She made a conscious decision to no longer fight the battle, because it wasn’t worth the relationship.
I can say, with full-confidence, that this was a wise decision on her part. It’s not that she quit trying, but she changed from the your-room-should-be-clean-because-I’m-your-mother-and-I-say-so tactic to more of a wouldn’t-it-be-great-if-you-could-find-your-purple-shoes-how-about-we-come-up-with-a-way-to-keep-things-neater-in-here one. She’s always willing to help me find and try a new organizing solution. Even today, I call her when I need help or advice, and I know that she will be on my side.
One day, time with your daughter will be rare and precious. Do you want to be a welcome guest in her home? Or do you want your impending visits to be the cause of dread and avoidance? Accept her for who she is, train her to live life well, and support her as she becomes the woman God wants her to be.
Question: Do you identify with Nony in this post as the daughter or her Mom?
Nony is a full-time mom who loves her job but struggles to keep her home out of chaos. She has made huge strides in her own deslobification process, which she documents at A Slob Comes Clean. It’s where she figures out why she is this way, and what she can do to change.
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