Over spring break I decided to tackle the boys bedrooms with them. They were in need of a deep cleaning and organizing. Here is what I learned about my children when I cleaned their rooms:
1- He saves EVERYTHING because his love language is gifts NOT because he’s a hoarder!
If you have a “hoarder” maybe you need to consider this too. As I requested we trash little items I found here and there (everywhere really) throughout the room, I got the answer, “NO” almost every time. “No” was usually followed by, “Grandma gave me that.” or “Brother made that for me.” Let me stop to tell you were are talking about erasers, rubber band bracelets, crafts, etc. Time after time, the answer was the same. That’s when I had my light bulb moment, “This kid feels deeply loved when he is given gifts.”
With that revelation I moved onto teaching him how to decide what was really given out of love, and what might have been given out of obligation or just to be “nice”. And that it was okay to let things go if we didn’t have a strong attachment to them. Finally, I shared with him how we can hold onto the love we felt when we received the gift and not have to keep every gift. We also talked about how we need to keep our rooms neat and organized for our own physical and mental health, but you already know that. (I would have suggested donating the items, but these weren’t really those kinds of things. Maybe next spring cleaning they will be.)
Hours (and a trash bag) later I move to room & kid two.
2- He behaves badly when he doesn’t get enough quality time!
This one isn’t a “hoarder”, he’s just messy. So this room needed a major cleaning and organizational overhaul. I started my eliminating some furniture and re-configuring his toy storage to be even smaller (which required me running to the Dollar Store later in the week for a few baskets and small boxes). Side note- some kids need less spaces to keep neat and clean to be successful. I found that to be the case with this child. It was obvious what we had for him wasn’t working. We cleaned the entire closet, under the bed, behind the dresser – your general deep room cleaning. Later that night I noticed his behavior had dramatically improved. My husband also noticed the change. And that’s when my second light bulb moment happened. “His love language is quality time!” We spent HOURS cleaning that room. It was not my favorite way to experience quality time, but apparently it filled up his tank.
If you are unfamiliar with the idea of Love Languages, I highly recommend you check out this book by Gary Chapman. My church did a study for our mom’s group on the version written about children’s love languages. At the time both my boys were very young and I felt like their only love language must be physical touch! Turns out, as they have grown into young men, they have changed. (I can’t lie, it’s nice not to have a child hanging on me anymore.)
So now I’m challenging myself to keep their “love tanks full” with this new information. Hopefully next time brother #2 needs quality time, it can NOT be doing spring cleaning 🙂
Have you figured out what your child’s primary love language is? How to you keep their tank full knowing this information?