Friday, September 4, 2009

All That Mess!

The series of posts below are pictures taken by camera phone during bathtime this evening. Today, Zach and I happened upon some Crayola Bathtub Crayons while at Target and they just seemed too fun to resist. And they were a blast!! Just look at those pictures! I think my kids would have stayed in the tub for a solid hour just scribbling away. The package is not entirely truthful- it isn't a super easy clean up. It took some serious scrubbing. Since I did some of that writing and scribbling, I had to do my part of the clean up, too... so I got the detail work of scrubbing the in-between sections of the tiles. And a section of my tub is going to be faintly pink for a long time to come. But the important thing is they made a mess and they cleaned it up. It's something I think is really important. It's also one of the main tenets of the parenting style I prefer. Authors Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller talk about the importance of making messes. Children have to be allowed to make messes. They learn a lot from the messy experience. My kids had a fantastic art experience in the tub with those crayons. They write smoothly and consistently. There are all kinds of surfaces and textures to explore and experiment with. They colored the tiles, the soapdish, the tub, their bellies and arms, the faucet. They played with different colors and even got some of them to mix together to make new colors. It was a truly awesome learning bath time. One of the really important parts of making a mess is cleaning it up. Having a great time making a mess is one thing. But the tub crayon artwork on the walls and on my kids can't stay forever. It has to be cleaned up. If I were to get the kids out of the tub and then do all the clean up myself, they learn nothing about the consequences of making a mess. They had the opportunity to make a mess and have a fantastic time doing it. It's their responsibility, with a little guidance from me, to clean up that mess so that they can play with the crayons again sometime. It applies to bigger and older situations, too. An example given by Moorman / Haller in the book The 10 Commitments The First Commitment I commit to remembering that experience can be messy. I accept that sand, mud, food, paint, cooking, eating, relationships, emotions, and social interactions can be messy. I allow my children to learn from making messes and the cleanup that follows. I recognize that experience can be messy. Example: A 16 year old who wants to participate in one of those direct buy CD clubs. Asks for permission, works out a deal with dad. He explains how it works so that she is fully aware of her responsibilities. Within 6 months, she has CD's she doesn't want and has wracked up a bill of $50. To pay of her debt, she has to take on extra babysitting jobs and household chores. With full understanding of her responsibilities, she chose not to follow the guidelines of the club and therefore had to pay. Mess made, mess cleaned up. How often are we willing to take the time to let our kids make messes? As a mom who works full time and feels strangled for time already... I know I don't do this often enough. I try. It's on my mind and in my heart but there are times where it is easier to just do it for them. To avoid the mess, the slowness, the frustration. But how does a child learn to feed himself if we never hand over the spoon? How does a child learn to tie her shoes if we never let go of the laces? Along the same lines- I encourage Teagan to pick out her own clothes every day. She doesn't always want to and that is her choice. But if she wants any say in what she wears- she has to choose it on her own. And I have to not correct her choice of clothing. Yes, if she picks something seasonly inappropriate (a sundress on a cool day), I veto the choice and make a suggestion of "long pants, short sleeves." I also have her dresser set up so she can succeed. The top drawers are storage of "growing into" clothes. The bottom 3 drawers- all of which she can reach- are socks, underwear, pants, skirts, shorts, dresses, shirts. We don't hang up any clothes because then she can't reach them on her own. She might look a mess with different stripey patterns on top and bottom or in colors that clash... but to me, she couldn't possibly look better. We keep bowls, cups, and silverware in a spot where Teagan get access them. If she needs a drink of water, she can get her own cup and either fill it at the kitchen or bathroom sink. Step stools are available to make reaching possible. She might make a mess. And if so, we clean it up. She can reach the towels and wash rags, too. While I know I need to work on the condition of my home and I know I need to follow through on Jeff and I cleaning up our own messes... part of why my house is cluttered and toys may not look right on (or near) the shelves and the bookself isn't neatly organized and the clothes are haphazardly in the hamper and so on... is because I encourage my kids to do their own clean up. I encourage Zach to put his clothes in the hamper- even though he can barely see into it. I encourage Teagan to put her own clothes away- even though it means they will come unfolded in the process. If Teagan helps me fold her clothes, I absolutely do not refold what she's done. Whatever task they take on, they do it to the best of their ability and I couldn't take away from that. Can you let your kids make messes? And do you follow through on having them be part of cleaning it up? Once they clean it up, can you leave it as they've done it or do you step in afterwards and "do it right?" Who knew all of this could come out just because of a great, messy bathtime?

6 comments:

darsden said...

one of the best inventions ever along with the invisible markers that work only on the "magic paper" best ever!!! No more markers on walls :-)

smiles4u said...

You are a very wise mom! You are teaching your children valuable lessons in all of this. I think that is so awesome! Great job Mom!

PS They look so cute and like they are having a blast!

Flartus said...

I impressed myself when first cooking with my nephew, because I realized it didn't matter how it turned out. So I let him do whatever he wanted, and the green cookies still tasted great!

It's a lesson I hope to apply when appropriate in the rest of my life...but I honestly don't know if I'd be capable of being so tolerant 24/7!

I enjoyed your CD club example, because I went through the exact same experience as a teen! And yes, my parents let me clean up my own mess. In fact, I don't even know if they were aware of it. If they were, they weren't in the least bit interested in becoming involved!

Mrs4444 said...

I agree 100%. As I told a group of math students yesterday, if you never need to use your eraser, your not learning anything.

Amy said...

I never had a problem with my kids painting or using playdoh or playing in a kitchen sink full of bubbles. We clean up, but my house still shows the wear and tear that comes from being a "bless this mess" mom.

Strange Mamma said...

Good post. The part that really struck me is not refolding what she's done. I hated doing things for my mom when I was growing up because she would always redo it or tell me how it wasn't done right. Good tip for making sure I don't make my kids feel the same way.