It’s easy in parenting to get overwhelmed. Toys especially seem to multiply at a pace that is impossible to keep up with. Children, especially toddlers are notorious for losing things. Puzzle pieces, toy dish sets Legos can end up all jumbled together in one box that regularly gets dumped out all over the floor in a jumble of odd pieces.
I thought this was the normal state of homes with toddlers – until living for a while in Japan and realizing that it’s not there.
From a very young age, Japanese kids are taught to be conscious of their things and clean up as they go. It becomes a routine, a habit, and over time it’s one that is reinforced until they wouldn’t think of leaving their spaces in disarray.
This is hard to do. It takes a lot of time and effort, but in the end it does help kids appreciate order, which is incredibly helpful later when they are older and trying to find their things.
I haven’t gone extreme with this, but we do always have our son put things back where he got them from. He cleans his room twice a day, once before nap time and once before bed. For the most part, he has started putting his things back after he takes them out, though the play area often looks like a disaster of toys at some point throughout the day.
I don’t do this because I’m a clean freak – I have had to alter my own habits to be a better example for him. This is about modeling behavior that will help him (and me) later on in life.
More than the tidiness, that is what we are trying to instill – habits that will help our kids when they are adults. I have found that my brain functions better when my surroundings are in order. It’s not something I want to stress about, but it is something that causes me stress if I don’t have it. Our son has learned to clean up after himself because we have made an effort to teach him.
You may have different priorities, it doesn’t have to be cleaning. I personally am stressed and bothered by disorder, but for many people they may not even see it. I don’t know if it will bother our kids when they are older or not, but it teaches good habits regardless.
The more important point is just that what you want to instill in your child starts young, takes a lot of repitition and habit forming and consistency. Parenting isn’t a magic formula – it’s something that has to be continuous and consistent whatever that may be.
It can’t be results oriented because the results aren’t what you are aiming for – it’s the habit and the discipline that comes from the habit that teaches children over years. Whatever it is that you are trying to teach them, don’t give up! Consistency over a long time works.