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The picture above is of my third daughter Izzy organizing and cataloging her stuffed animals last summer. If you remember from her “help” with my living room, Izzy is often organizing and decorating differently than I would. And I’ve really learned to love it.
For the declutter challenge, we’ve started into the bedrooms, which means we’re going to be in the middle of kids’ spaces.
I love Pinterest as much as the next person, but in some ways I think the term “Pinterest-Perfect” represents something that is wrong in our culture today. Everyone wants to create Pinterest-Perfect homes, but the problem with Pinterest-Perfect is that it focuses on the superficial level of how something APPEARS instead of the substance of what it IS.
When I was growing up, it didn’t matter what my room look liked. If it was clean and orderly, my mom was happy. I spent years hanging tacky posters on my walls and re-arranging my furniture and knick-knacks every chance I got. The experience I gained in my childhood, of figuring out my style and experimenting with furniture and decorating shaped me into the person I am today. Somewhere during all those experiments, I developed my talents and love for organizing and decorating.
What if my mom was worried about my room being Pinterest-Perfect that she didn’t let me to take the lead? My room went through a lot of awkward stages, I’d get it if she had opinions.
When we’re creating bedrooms for our kids, it isn’t just about the superficial level of how it appears. The substance of the kids rooms is this: is this room helping them develop? Is it a safe place for growth and learning? Is it cheerful? Does the room help them feel good?
It is a little uncomfortable for me to just let my kids have control in their rooms. I don’t always think it looks good how they arrange everything on top of their desks or dressers. I bite my tongue if the room appears clean with an attempt at orderliness. I love it when they ask for my help, but I’ve figured out I have to let them figure it out themselves.
I’m not in this for the short-term, just so I can take cute pictures of their rooms. I’m in this with them for the long-haul, trying to help them become capable adults.
It May Be Ugly Sometimes
Last school year, my daughter took cupcakes to school for a presentation. Her assignment was to give a tutorial about something. My daughter wanted to do a tutorial about making cupcakes. We bake a lot together, and my girls love copying the swirl design I do on cupcakes.
Last week, when I shared about my son’s birthday, you could see an example of how I like to swirl on frosting. It is my go-to way to frost a cupcake:
Here are some of my daughter’s cupcakes leftover from her tutorial:
They’re not Pinterest-Perfect, but you can see she is making swirling motions with the frosting. She’s young still, and I think if she keeps practicing frosting cupcakes, she’ll be better at it than me. Childhood is the time for learning. If you can’t be imperfect during childhood, when can you be?!
Did I briefly entertain the idea of frosting the cupcakes she’d take to school? I admit, yes. But in the end, I decided to let her to her thing. She deserves a chance to try. Her friends at school loved the cupcakes and the whole thing went well for her.
There may be times we have to consciously and deliberately decide to let our kids try, to let things not be so perfect, and to embrace a little bit of awkward.
Keep reminding yourself: we’re creating good adults, not perfect kids. It’s going to be ugly sometimes.
Eventually, You May be Surprised
At Christmas, my girls got about a million new books and their bookshelves were too full for the new books. I suggested they get rid of some books to make room for the new ones. That was all I did, then a little while later, they brought these boxes out to me.
They had gone through all their books and decluttered the shelves completely on their own. All those days of letting them try, letting them strengthen their decluttering muscles by making tough decisions themselves … it felt so rewarding to see these boxes of books and to realize they are really getting it. They are going to be adults that know how to declutter.
When we let them try and even struggle on their own a bit, their successes feel even more triumphant.
A Bad Day Isn’t a Pattern
There was that day I showed up at the grocery store a little flustered with life. I picked up the Cranberry Juice off the shelf and completely by accident, I threw it. The way it flew from my hand was kind of majestic. The spray of splatter that exploded when it hit the concrete was so much larger than you’d think possible from one small bottle of cranberry juice. (And yes, it was terribly embarrassing to alert an employee. They were a little shocked.)
I knew my husband would hardly believe the grand scale of this mess, so I took a picture.
Shockingly, I’m still allowed to keep grocery shopping, even at this same store.
One bad day doesn’t make a pattern. Your kids will have off days. We can’t suppose that the one time they did something badly means it will always be that way. We can’t use their bad moments as excuses to take over.
We need to let them try! We need to let them try to organize their rooms, fold their clothes, frost the cupcakes, or whatever they need to do.
We’ll make mistakes and have times when we accidentally take over, but we have to keep trying to let them try.
Is this easy for you?
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