It can definitely feel like you are swimming upstream, against the current, when it comes to a clean and organized way of life. When one “mess” finally gets cleaned up, within seconds another area of toys has exploded. And then milk has been spilled at the table. You are tripping on shoes strewn all across the entryway. Oh, and heavens knows how long that apple has been in your child’s room. I wish these were all hypothetical situations, but they are all real and even better realities in my own home seeming time and time again.
Now I (and you) have choices. We can harp and berate our children for their messiness and disorganization. We can throw our hands up in defeat and allow total chaos to ensue. Or we can strike a balance of teaching organization while also living life to the fullest. I wish I could say that I fall into the sweet spot of balance more often than not. Wrong, but wishful! I have to confess that I tend towards the panicking mode when I come home from a long-day at work to what appears to be a bomb that has exploded in practically every room in our home. But when I can regain perspective, like now as I write, I can see how it is simply bad timing. It is my own futile attempt at control and calm to hope and pray I’ll step foot into a sparkling clean household of all things properly put in their places.
All this talk about cleanliness leads me to a relatively simple but powerful reminder in parenting – PICK YOUR BATTLES. Man, this feels like an ongoing confessional of my parent ills, but I tend to engage in battles rather than selectively pick them. And in so doing I only lose over and over again. Sometimes, the battle for a clean home is worth fighting for. Sometimes. And sometimes, the battle for a clean home needs to be surrendered. Maybe, for you, it is not a battle about cleanliness. Maybe it’s a battle over what your child is wearing. Maybe it’s a battle about your child’s friend group. Or maybe it’s a battle over homework. All of these are fairly well-worn war grounds in parenting. This does not mean you need to full out surrender on the hills of these battlefields. BUT, should you go to battle, or even war, as often as you do? Or as intensely? Identify your battlefield and redraw the lines of engagement today. I know that I need to make this choice multiple times a day over and over again.