Sometimes my life gets messy. I’m not talking about issues, emotional stress, challenging relationships. Not that kind of mess. I’m talking about the real physical mess that happens in households where kids are being trained. For years I have had trouble finding the line between training my children to be responsible and keeping my household up to the standards I would like it to be. When you are training children there is always that learning curve that inevitably leaves potholes in the road.
This morning there was a pretty impressive pothole. We are in the process of training our boys to do laundry. Not just to learn the mechanics of running the washer and dryer. The whole process is of course, much more involved than that. At our house it involves the following steps:
- Finding the laundry (search the kitchen, bathrooms, bedrooms and sometimes the front steps, please)
- Sorting (no, that new black shirt doesn’t go in with the load of white socks and underwear)
- Loading the washer (you cannot wash 25 bath towels at once, that would be at least TWO loads — and don’t forget the detergent!)
- Remembering that there is laundry in the washer before the sour smell gives it away
- Putting the laundry in the dryer (that little door with the fuzzy stuff coming out all over is supposed to be emptied EVERY time you load the dryer)
- Taking the clean clothes out of the dryer ( were the clothes in the bottom of that basket you just dumped clean clothes into, clean or dirty?)
- Bringing the clean clothes upstairs
- Putting it away where it belongs
And that still isn’t the end of it. There is also the aspect that the laundry person needs to stay on top of the job. It is not acceptable to leave a zillion loads in the laundry bin and expect it to just somehow wash itself. The other thing is, since we have more than one trainee there is that issue of expecting that “someone else” will do it. I often find myself saying, “someone needs to change the laundry” to which my husband can be heard saying frequently “someone doesn’t live here.”
So this morning, when my husband got up to go to work the clothes he needed hadn’t been put in the dryer the night before and now he was scrambling to find something to wear. It should never get to this point but when you are training children to be responsible there will be times when the system fails. They won’t always get it right and, knowing that, we sometimes have the tendency to “just do it ourselves” so we avoid any issues. Whether we know it or not, we aren’t doing ourselves any favors when we choose to avoid the possibility of failure.
What we can do is keep working with our kids. They will eventually learn if we don’t give up. They will become responsible adults, eventually. So just keep trying, keep training…and retraining. Keep encouraging them and keep praising them when they get closer to the goal. When the trash is overflowing and no one but you seems to notice, when the dog’s water bowls are empty…again, when the laundry smells funny because it sat in the washer too long, just remember that your main goal right now is training your kids, not having a flawlessly run household. It might be tempting to just do everything yourself but your kids will be the better for it if you just persevere. One day they will be grown and gone and you will have your house in order. You will be proud of who they have become and you might even miss these chaotic days just a little.
Keep pressing on!