Family life

Will my toddler become Type A like me?

Katie is a neat-freak who feels she’s sometimes too strict about cleaning up. She wants Soph to know how to take care of things but also how to relax.

By Katie Dupuis
Will my toddler become Type A like me?

Photo: bogdankosanovic/iStockphoto

It probably comes as no surprise to you — after all, this blog is about being Type A — that I make my bed every day. Not kidding. Every. Single. Freaking. Day. From the first day of kindergarten (the hallmark for when it became a kid’s responsibility in our house). I tried a few times to leave it unmade in university (mostly because people teased me about my hospital corners on a regular basis), but I would inevitably come home from class, recoil at the mess and get to work. I also attempted to be less "strict" (instead of a not-very-nice word that comes to mind) when I first moved to Toronto, but I lived in a postage stamp-sized studio apartment and it appeared to be a disaster when anything was out of place (and I mean anything. Throw pillow on the floor? Disaster. Shoes not put away? Pigsty). It’s to the point now where I can’t get into an unmade bed at the end of the day, because I’ve been sleeping in smoothed-out sheets for 30 years.
I was thinking about it yesterday morning as I tidied up Soph’s crib. She sleeps with a green singing bear (My Pal Scout — love!) and a little baby quilt, and every morning I fold the quilt and put the bear off to the side. In the March issue of Today’s Parent, one of our Steps and Stages stories is about teaching kids to clean up. I read it as I was approving pages at the very last step of production last week and actually stopped to jot down some notes; Soph is talking and very close to walking, and I’m sure we can start singing the tidy-up song I learned as a kid in the near future. As it is right now, I will ask her to bring me things as I’m putting away her toys and she obliges (once in a while, anyway. The kid’s 15 months old).
But, some part of me doesn’t want Sophie to be as rigid as I am. I absolutely appreciate that my mom wanted us to know how to take care of our things — for the same reason we learned to set the table and do the dishes, and why my brother, sisters and I can all cook — but I sometimes feel like a bit of a slave to my need for clean. I don’t even know if it’s learned, really, or if it’s just who I am, but the question still remains what we would teach Sophie. Like everything else when Soph is concerned, I want the best of both worlds and I don’t know what that means. Maybe it just means pajama time on Saturday mornings where beds don’t get made and breakfast dishes don’t get done until the afternoon, so she knows it’s okay and a special lazy-day treat. But that will, of course, require me to let it go, too — to stay in yoga pants and cuddle up with my little family after pancakes. Sounds pretty good, I know. If only I could stop making mental lists of what I need to clean first when noon hits. And you know it would start with the stupid beds.

This article was originally published on Feb 14, 2013

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