A Little Ray of Hope

By Madeline Goodwin

September, 2018

[While many of the “Perspectives on 2e” essays in this issue look back over the past 15 years, this one offers parents a look to the future, a hopeful look. Contributor Madeline Goodwin wrote it as a post on the GHF Community Discussion Group, and we use it here with her permission.]

I wanted to share a little ray of hope with you parents out there who are pretty sure your child’s room is never going to be clean.

Cleaning my room seemed impossible for me as a kid. There was so much stuff, and it was everywhere, and it was incredibly visually overwhelming, and I couldn’t fathom how all the stuff could ever get put away.

My mom taught me how to “just” look for things that fell into one category. Dirty laundry? Collect it and take it to the laundry room. Books? Put them in stacks according to which room they go in, then put each stack away. Doll clothes? Sort according to hang up or fold, then tackle each pile separately. Dolls? Put them away (or, in my case, obsessively line them up “just so” along the wall according to age and favoritism). Pick up trash and put it in the garbage.

It took me years. My room was a disaster for most of the last two decades. Dirty tissues spent months accumulating on my floor (sinus infections = a lot of dirty tissues). Dirty laundry never quite left my room...or sometimes the bathroom. Books formed stacks and piles and got ruined from being tossed around. Scraps of fabric and yarn, bits of thread and fuzz, and other fiber arts debris all littered my floor. (The sharps at least I was fastidious about putting away...after stepping on a needle.)

But. I have friends coming over tomorrow. I just put away my clean laundry, changed my sheets, dealt with my dirty laundry, shelved my books, put my crafting supplies away, and made sure my garbage was in the trash. I am considering vacuuming. This isn’t just a “company thing,” either — I fold throw blankets when I’m done with them, my dishes make it all the way into the dishwasher, I sweep (when I get tired of stepping on crumbs), and I take the trash out. Not 100% of the time, but probably >75%. This seems like such a small, stupid thing to be proud of doing, but it has been such a struggle to get this far.

So, parents, I know it’s frustrating. It’s frustrating for your kids, too — they want to clean up, they just don’t have the skills (it might be motor skills for putting things away, executive functioning for staying on track, awareness that there is a mess to begin with, etc.) to do it. But they’ll get there. I promise.


Madeline Goodwin is the Director of GHF Online (https://giftedhomeschoolers.org/ghf-online), the online learning arm of the Gifted Homeschoolers Forum. In addition, she is the founder of and educator with Exceeds Expectations Learning, a tutoring and mentoring service (2E-Learning.com). 

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