Helping My Kid Clean His Room Was A Lesson For Him & Me

Helping my kid clean his room was a lesson for both him and me.

He wanted to play. I told him to clean his room first. He groaned ... My reaction was to ease his disdain and offer to help. I realized he and I are very similar.

If I'm given some big problem — much like others (I don't think we're unique) — my initial response is a major groan at this imposition. The problem seems impossible at the outset. In my kid's case, he's been tasked with cleaning his room and has been in there for hours "cleaning". When I've peeked on him, he's in there in seemingly endless subtasks. And then there's the playing. All told it's an endless timeline. For this time, I told him, "look I want you to be able to clean your room in ten minutes by focusing on geting through the bulk of the task in a timely fashion". In a sense, I was speaking to myself.

What I realized is that the boy lacks a sense of process. That process can then execute some groupings that can make the task move. The process I imposed: pick up the big stuff, then pick up the trash, and then sweep the legos into a pile. We'll bag the legos and clear the floor. In the past, he's gone about picking up legos one-by-one to ordinate them by color ... (Gah!!) ... Nah, man ...

I think about my own sense of addressing a problem and that initial hesitation is built around my lack of development of a process. That process breaks things into appropriate subsets. Those subsets can then be done as a sub-project, but the overall mission of staying on-task and on-budget (for time) can be preserved.

So with a minimal amount of time, we got him through cleaning his room, and more importantly seeing that it can be done without the hand-wringing. Get a process that works to break things into steps, including some big fell-swoops and move on keeping getting done timely as a north star. That lesson became ever-apparent to me.