To be fair, Princess Sparkle is a pretty good kid and she loves having a clean room. She often asks me to come in and help her tidy it and she cries when Captain Destroyer then goes and destroys all her (my!) hard work. The two kids share a pretty small room so it gets a bit wild in there (we actually have a bigger room, but I haven't quite gotten around to swapping them into the bigger room. It feels like a lot of work.)
I'm always nagging at the kids to tidy their room. I don't expect them to do the big stuff, but I do expect them to put the teddies back in their teddy bin and the duplo back in the duple box etc. Usually we all do it together (cough cough - either Mr Busy Bee or myself do it and the kids throw the odd thing in the right direction) before bed.
This weekend I went all out. I stripped the beds, sprayed for dust mites (Aren't I marvellous??!! That or its because of Captain Destroyer's eczema, but let's stick with marvellous), put the various containers of toys back where they belong, tidied the bookshelf, vacuumed and mopped. Phew - I'm exhausted just thinking about it. I must admit, it looked pretty good. Clean and sparkly, as Princess Sparkle would say.
When my delightful daughter hugged and thanked me for my hard work, I was awash with gratitude and pride. Yeah sure, I was proud of her but LOOK AT ME I created this wonderful little girl who says thank you. Definitely getting that parenting award.
Then reality knocked on my door. Fair play, Princess Sparkle, you are a good kid and I am proud of you for noticing my hard work and saying thank you. But I started to ask myself, is it really so noteworthy that I cleaned her room? Is she just grateful because I'm actually a pretty crappy parent who doesn't go in and clean their room every day?
These thoughts bothered me for a little while until I stumbled across a idea that I liked.
If you give something away too easily people stop noticing it and they no longer have the capacity to appreciate it. Inattentional blindness - you don't notice it if its always there. If I was the kind of parent who took ten minutes every morning to tidy the kids' room before I went to work, noone would notice that I was doing it and my daughter wouldn't be grateful for it. By being a less than perfect housekeeper, I'm teaching my children to value and appreciate the things I do for them. Princess Sparkle saw the time that I put into making her room nice and she appreciated it, because its not something just "happens" every day.
So next time you sigh at the state of your kids' bedroom, close the door and walk away pretending you didn't notice (everyone does that right? right???) just give yourself a pat on the back for giving your kids the chance to appreciate your hard work when you eventually go back and sort it out.