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Best Form of Flattery

My 15-month-old toddler has really begun to imitate my husband and me. For example, the other morning I wiped up something from the floor with a wet wipe. She watched and then took a wipe out of the box and started wiping the floor herself. Yesterday, I was putting things in piles on the dining room table to bring upstairs while holding her (because there's nothing like a "waah waah mama mama up up waah waah" to make me want to clean one-handed). A little while later (when she actually let me put her down), she started moving her books from one pile to another.

There was a huge discussion on Ask Moxie the other day about getting the chores done, with emphasis on sharing household work and childcare with your partner (if you had one), which lead to modeling behaviors such as how to clean in front of your child. I hadn't really thought about this aspect of raising my child, this modeling how to clean (and in my case, how to schedule the cleaning person, which I learned from my mother) and even just pick up. I know that I want to teach her to put away her own toys, and now that she likes to "put stuff in" I am showing her how to put it in the shelves I bought (I swear I'll write an update about my wonderful new furniture soon).

But I hadn't thought about how important it is for her to see us picking up, doing the dishes, doing the laundry, doing the chores that come with maintaining a household so that she learns that it is a normal part of life. So that she learns how to imitate that behavior too. I know that the Montessori method includes household and everyday activities, and now I realize why that is important.

What she doesn't need to see is me flipping out about the state of the house and the level of disorganization that the house is in. It was hard to move while pregnant, and things never got fully organized. There was only so much Londo could do, and I was exhausted and stressed and unable to lift heavy objects. Once the baby came, everyone said to let the household stuff go. So we let it go. And go. And go.

But I cannot live like that. I am missing important papers with deadlines and late charges because my stuff is so unorganized. My office/craft room is really a storage room, full of baby clothes, piles of papers, books, china and goodness knows what else. It's been driving me crazy for months, but I just haven't been able to get to it in the way I need because first we need storage bins, the buy shelves for our storage room, rearrange the storage room, buy another filing cabinet, go through piles and bags of papers to file, move the china from one set of shelves to another, move the cleared shelf to the guest room... etc. etc. etc.

What's worse is that it's flowing over to other rooms in the house. This was the root of my freak out the other night--and freak out I did. (Right in front of the Pumpkin, modeling excellent behavior right there. But that's another post.) I couldn't come home and cook because there was no clear counter space. And I flipped. After putting the baby to bed, Londo and I attacked the kitchen, throwing stuff out, reorganizing some cabinets. Last night, we cleared out the dining room. Luckily, I had already gotten the family in good shape thanks to the new shelves, couch and coffee table. This weekend, we are buying more storage bins and working on the storage room, which will lead to the ability to clean and organize the guest room and my office.

Not only am I feeling better about starting to wrangling in the chaos that is my household, but I am determined to model the way I want to live my life to the Pumpkin. I want her to see that if things have a spot, it's easy to put them away. When you are organized, you can find the things you want and need. But it doesn't happen magically. You have to take the time to get it all in place, and you have to have the right tools for the job. So I won't wait until she's asleep or have someone take her out of the house. We will do this in front of her. So she will see that you don't have to let chaos rule your life.

If she is going to imitate me, I want to be sure that she is imitating the good things I do. The things I think make life better. She already knows how to create chaos, as she and all children are born with that ability. I want her to see how to create order too.


Becoming Mommy said…
Sasha's recently been trying to help too...only he tends to actually mess things up more.

Like the dishwasher, he knows things go in there.

However, he likes to take Kerry's dish (while she's eating out of it) and dump it into the dishwasher full of clean dishes.

kibble, lung, etc all over everything.

But I know he's trying to be like Mom and Dad so I just sigh and reclean.
La folle maman said…
Organization has always been my endevour. If DH helps, it's only after much pleading, nagging and temper tantrums on my part. Of course, if you were to ask him, he does plenty.

Okay, enough of me whining. I guess my point is that it sounds like Londo is helping a lot and Pumpkin is well on her way to joining you!
I actually don't think it is completely bad for her to see you freak out, if you can use it as a teaching experience. Once you calm down you can explain how come you lost it, how you try not to do that, and what you do to help you not do that.
I mean we are not perfect, we are all works in progress, and showing your children how you deal with things helps them learn.
Shellie said…
I hear ya on this one too. Just a warning, they love to imitate for a while, then they decide it's work. Trick them for as long as you can that it isn't! I did find I expected them to clean like me too fast. They just don't seem to even see the half of the mess there at all so how can they clean it? You will have to keep modeling till she is all grown and on her own.
MommyEm said…
I seem to lack the skills required for an organized house. I am working on it, but my husband and I agreed that if I am still struggling after a year in this house, we will get a professional organizer to come in and help, if it is somewhat affordable. It is nice to have that feeling of a safety net, and it gives me a cheapskate goal - if I can do it myself, I can save money! It's perfect!
Colleen said…
and modeling is the exact reason why Gavin won't pick toys in his way but instead kicks them across the room to the nearest wall...just like his daddy.

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