You’ve heard the saying, “If you can’t be a good example, then be a really good bad example”?
When our sons were young, I would have to tell them things like, “We don’t hang our jackets on the floor” when they walked into the house and tossed them instead of putting them up. After 3 boys toss jackets on the floor, you’ve got a pile of jackets there. The yard could get out of hand pretty quick, too, with assorted stuff left lying about. And I have to say that my husband has sometimes wanted to hang onto things that I could see no good reason for. Like the old washing machine he wanted us to keep once “for parts” when we bought a new one. And I remember opening a kitchen drawer one day and finding a toy space shuttle. I knew then it was time for me to do some deep reorganizing. We all have to stay on top of things and we have to look for the signs that it’s getting out of hand.
One day I decided I was tired of talking and was ready to show them a really good bad example. So we went for a ride. There was a house on a highway north of us that had been a landmark for years. When I was a teenager, every time we passed by going to or from my grandparent’s house, we looked to see what was in the yard or on the porch or even on the roof that hadn’t been there last time. It was an ever-changing landscape over the years. This family must have reveled in their junk.
So, we took a nice little drive for a lesson in what can happen if we let things pile up. My sons-and husband, even-were pretty impressed. There was an old fridge that had been on the front porch for years. It looked like it was going to fall through if it sat there much longer. There were old rusty cars and assorted junk in the yard and a bicycle tire on the roof. Seems like I remember an old couch, too.
They were impressed. My job got easier for a while. All I would have to do is say, “Put that up or throw it away. We don’t want our house to look that one up on the highway.”