Stop Being a Robotic Cleaner

My OCD does not mix well with my kids.  The fact that they throw things around (despite almost daily arguments to clean up) and messes they leave on a regular basis, which is completely normal – has made me into a live Robotic Vacuum Cleaner.  Now I know kids are meant to throw things around, except for those in Japan who apparently not only clean up their rooms but their classrooms as well.  But how can I pull back, let me kids have a semblance of childhood, especially when it comes to making a mess, and supressing my OCD tendencies (which are really strong) to pick up every single crumb and thread I find?

  • It’s psychological – talking myself through it every time helps.  I still pick up every single crumb and thread I find – but I know it’s more my problem than theirs which reduces the amount of screaming I do.  Knowing that it’s about me than them makes it less of a fight with them and more of a self awareness exercise.
  • Out of sight, out of mind – if they go in the family room and destroy it, and I allow them a space to do that, then let them do it.  I blissfully ignore it in the living room pretending all is well.  Occasionally checking if they are ok making sure nothing can hurt them), cringing while I sneak a peek at the mess, and then going back to my blissful ignorant existence – even if its for another 5 minutes.
  • Planning it out – planning out when to vacuum and clean up on a daily or weekly basis helps in leaving the mess around more bearable.  I tidy up once or twice a day (say lunch time and right after they go to sleep) and then cleaning up weekly (such as vacuuming) helps.  Knowing that the tidying up is coming, makes me less anxious about constantly picking things up every second of the day to no avail.
  • Some support – having my older kid (even my toddler to some extent) help with the clean up is a futile wish.  But although I know they aren’t really cleaning things up – they will start to understand the consequence of just randomly throwing things ll over the place.  So although they won’t be doing a good job tidying up as I would, they will think twice about making a miss in the first place knowing the effort it takes.  I typically do this once a day at least or before we do another big activity. 

Anyone else feeling like a Rumba vacuum machine constantly walking around kids and cleaning up?  How do you deal with that?

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