Our house is fairly small. Rooms tend to get cluttered pretty quickly if not tended to at least once a day. One room in particular tends to become hazardous if left untouched…the play room.
Earlier today I spent a solid 45 minutes cleaning/organizing the girls’ play room and felt proud of the finished product. I gave the girls the usual warning, “Ok, Mommy just spent lots of time cleaning so I expect it to stay clean…or else…” The prisoners…I mean girls were released to play by themselves in the room fearing the wrath of their “Clean-Nazi” Mommy. (If you’re a mom you know what I’m talking about) I listen as I walk out of the room and hear the Lego bucket emptied, books pulled from the shelf, and all the usual noises of chaos. I walk in 10 minutes later and the floor is covered in princess garb, books, dolls, and some random kitchen utensils all covering the carpet that was visible just minutes ago. As I glance across the wreckage, I see a box of Legos (lid intact) having been recently picked up by sweet little 3 year old hands. I gasped…she had played with Legos, built her infamous giant towers, and cleaned up after herself without being told. So I came to a crossroads.
Choice #1: Go crazy Clean-Nazi Mommy on them, make them clean up room, then close the door for the rest of the day isolating them from their most prized possessions.
Choice #2: Celebrate the Legos.
I chose number two. I picked her up swung her around and let her know how proud I was of the choice she had made to clean up without being asked. You see sometimes we have to look past the big stuff and focus on the little things. I ignored the fact that all my work had been reversed and chose instead to pick the smallest act of cleaning up legos (which I am constantly asking her to do…) to celebrate and hopefully in doing this, reproduce the same action in the future. As a parent if I want to see positive choices in my child now and in the future, then I have to spend more time focusing on the positive choices NOW and less time reprimanded for negative ones.
If I want my children to be honest, EVERY single time they choose to tell the truth when it would be easier to lie, I need to celebrate it.
If I want my children to care for others, EVERY single time they show unforced kindness toward another person, I need to celebrate it.
Choose to celebrate the little victories, not just the big ones. Choose to look past the cluttered floor and focus on the Legos. Celebrate the Legos.