De-cluttering a Child’s Room and Soul without Becoming a Clean Freak
By Syllvia Cochran – Christian Parenting – Cleanliness might be next to godliness, but there is such as thing as being too clean.
On the flipside, the age-old practice of shoving toys, books, puzzle pieces and stuffed animals under the bed hides spiritual dangers. So where is the happy medium between clean freak, hypocrite and slob?
The Three-step Approach to De-Cluttering
There is a three-step approach that allows the parent of one or more children to de-clutter while still offering some leeway for childlike messiness.
- Remove old, superfluous, broken and unwanted toys. Put aside those items that are in good condition; you may wish to give them to the local homeless or battered women’s shelter (just be sure to clean them before taking them there).
- Sort the remaining items. Invest in transparent storage bins, shelves, baskets and other items that can hold the toys.
- Clean the toys and room. Dust, vacuum, get out the spray cleaner and just give the room a good scrub-down.
When Cleanliness Becomes Dangerous
Of course, there are plenty of parents who take de-cluttering and cleaning a child’s room to the extreme. New moms in particular are quick to sanitize often and thoroughly. Yet WebMD is very clear in stating that just as a baby’s brain needs stimulation, input, and interaction to develop normally, the young immune system is strengthened by exposure to everyday germs so that it can learn, adapt, and regulate itself.
It stands to reason that the very act of over-cleaning a child’s environment is actually dangerous to the youngster’s health. In the long run, a normal exposure to animal feces and related items has the potential of protecting a grown child against diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and various inflammations of the body.
The Hypocrisy of Hidden Clutter
Now that we know that a little bit of dirt won’t harm kids, there is indeed the harm that hidden clutter or dirt can accomplish to the child’s spiritual wellbeing.
If a child is not taught to be respectful of personal space and belongings but is allowed to live like a slob until company comes over she learns the hypocritical attitude of pretending to be something she is not. When mom or dad order a mad rush of putting toys and clothes away, shoving things under the bed or into closed closets, the child learns to hide problems rather than deal with them on a consistent basis.
The second danger is just as insidious as the first: the child learns to become afraid of being judged by others and may develop this attitude as a natural self-defense mechanism. Romans 2:1-4 specifically deals with the judgmental hearts of others and their inability to appreciate God’s compassion and patience. Making a child afraid of the raised eyebrows other might show at a messy room invites the child to judge the critics just as critically.
Of course, mom and dad do not get off all that easily, either. If a child’s room is a consistent mess due to a lack of time and an overage of other pressing chores, the problem is the same as having plenty of time to clean but little compulsion to do so: the personal pride of not wanting to ask for help.
It stands to reason that a cluttered child’s room, as normal as it is, presents a host of spiritual pitfalls the Christian parent is wise to avoid. Who knew that de-cluttering a child’s room, cleaning it without the need for sanitizing every nook and cranny, and then working together with junior to maintain a basic level of neatness could actually yield physical and spiritual riches?
WebMD: Is Dirt Good for Kids? (Retrieved August 19, 2010)
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