Sunday, October 27, 2013

Mom on Strike

Clutter - Flotsam of the Mind

I'm considering going on strike. I'll keep up my cooking, laundry, and carpooling duties, but I'm tired of picking up after my kids.

Every book and magazine lies wherever the reader last sat. Craft items are strewn about my house willy nilly. I could find at least one pair of dirty socks lying on the floor at any time. I trip over shoes, backpacks, and coats, all of which have conveniently placed designated storage areas. I find dirty laundry in closets, empty food containers in the back seat of my car, and tiny LEGO pieces everywhere.

I hate the mess, but I'm more tired of nagging them to pick up after themselves. If they would take a moment to put away each item when they are done using it, I wouldn't need to tell them at all. If they would do it even the first time I ask them, then I'd never have to nag. We all would be happier.

Two years ago, my kids went to visit their grandparents while my husband was on a business trip. I had two days alone in my house. The strangest thing happened--when I put something away, it stayed there. I cleaned the garage once. I didn't see a LEGO for days. It was miraculous. Only in the absence of constantly picking up other people's stuff did I notice how often I do it.

I've been noticing often lately. I wonder whether the inverse would be true:  If I stopped picking up after everyone, would they eventually notice the mess?

So I'm toying with going on strike. If the dirty clothes are not in the hamper, I won't wash them. If all the snack containers are in school desks or the back seat of my car, then I won't pack snacks. If the kitchen table is littered with books and magazines, then they won't eat. For one week, I would leave the crap where it lies.

There are two things holding me back. The first is that I fear I'll go crazy. I'll either be unable to stand the chaos and give up the strike or, more likely, I will be hostile. Very very hostile. The second reason I hesitate is worse--what if no one notices? What if they trip over socks and shoes, shove the reading material aside, leave strands of yarn scattered everywhere and just don't care? What if they really don't mind living in filth? What if my offspring embrace chaos?

It's almost too much to contemplate.

What do you think? Are several days of pain and suffering worth making a point? What if I do it and the point is lost? Am I a lunatic or a genius?


  1. I have done this. It's so hard and yes, I was hostile. The worst part was that they did notice but they didn't pick anything up. I ended up exploding. It wasn't pretty.

  2. I don't think you'll be able to stand the mess and chaos. I wouldn't be able to. I tell my kids that, if they leave it out after I've told them to pick it up, I'm throwing it out. This seems to work somewhat.

  3. My sister is an organization genius and she has a big basket for each kid. She throws the stuff in there and they can't have TV/dinner/choose-your-option til it's emptied. Of course this works better if you don't forget about it like I tend to.

  4. I agree with Karen. If they don't pick up and u have to it will end up in the wastebaket. Susie

  5. I have the same issue at my house. Sigh! Sadly I don't think my daughter, now 14, would notive the mess, and if she did I don't think she'd mind. In our case what's left everywhere is shoes, school stuff, and ballet stuff -- namely hair pins, hair elastics, ribbons, hair spray. Oh, and also dirty dishes which don't seem to get to the kitchen unless I ask and then nag. I can't stand the mess so don't think I could go on strike. I keep thinking I must have done something wrong in my earlier parenting.