Earlier this week I asked my children to pick up the bathroom so that I could clean it. Our main bathroom is the only one with a bathtub, and it is mainly used as the kids’ bathroom, along with guests who come to our home. With four young kids, it gets a bit messy. I reminded them a couple of times as I was passing through that I needed it picked up before I could clean it. I cleaned the master bath, even mopping the floor by hand, and then proceeded to the kids’ bathroom.
Much to my dismay, there were still items on the floor, toothpaste was left uncapped, there were glasses from bedtime drinks,…It wasn’t as though my children had ignored me completely each time I had asked them to pick up. Their definition just happens to be different than mine.
I felt the exhaustion and frustration well inside of me. I began a small diatribe about how I was feeling sad and frustrated by what I saw. And then, I stopped. It wasn’t helpful. It was bordering on lecture mode. Instead, I told my three older children, ages 8, 6, and 3 1/2, that they were now in charge of cleaning their bathroom. I expected to be met with exclaimed “Ewwwwwws!” Instead, they looked at one another and cried, “Let’s do it!”
My daughter asked me to get various supplies for them, and I went about the house doing something else. The three of them went in the bathroom and got to work, chattering away. At one point when I looked in, I was met by the sight of my 3 1/2 year old gleefully scrubbing the toilet bowl. I wish I had had my camera.
When they finished, they let me know that they had enjoyed the experience and requested that they now be in charge of cleaning their bathroom. Later when I checked the bathroom, I was met with my own surprise. While there were some little pieces of paper around the edges of the floor and I doubt the bathtub was scrubbed out, the rest of the bathroom was clean. The mirror was spotless. The sink and counter were clean and clear. Trash had been emptied. The toilet was freshly scrubbed, and bathmats had been placed in the laundry while the floor had been wiped by hand.
It was a reminder to me to step back, out of the way…both from my expectations of myself when it comes to asking for help and from those times I feel frustrated in life. One could also say that it is a reminder to watch as our children come into their own.