I wonder when I became so obsessed with CLEAN. Seriously, at one point in my life I lived in a dirt floor house with no thought about it being dirty. Is that the definition of ironic? Alanis Morissette and I are unclear on the definition, but we think so.
When I truly think about it, my clean obsession has waxed and waned throughout my kid rearing years. Both of my children are hoarders, so their rooms could be horrifying. I have gone between zero tolerance for found objects (gutter trash, candy wrappers, dead birds, someone else’s discarded chewing gum), to allowing one bucket of stuff and nothing else (except that overflowed daily with newly found old stinky stuff), to closing my eyes and holding my nose (the full-on disgusting period I will spare you the mental image of), to requesting a weekly semi-cleaning on the order of “Just make it ‘look’ clean for Mama.”
Now I have a housekeeper and ask my son to shovel his stuff onto his bed once every two weeks so his room can be vacuumed. It still smells in there, but that is de rigueur for teenage boys, right?
I know YOU struggle with this as much as I do because I hear from parents all the time about their hair pulling frustration over it. I wish I had a sure fire solution for you, but I don’t.
Just one thing: I know it was never worth the relationship damage I caused trying to stem the garbage tide. I caused the most family upheaval by making “dirty” something to get dysregulated over. Why in the world would I put clean above love? All I had to do was accept the reality that I would be teaching, training, and talking about it regularly for years. So what, right? I talk about the same stuff over and over with my kids all the time. We all do. What do you say, let’s collectively get over it. Our stress levels will significantly drop when we do.