i've been thinking about this, since seeing the recent thread on messy kids' rooms and others in the past. as a messy child myself (now a messy grown-up who is working hard to change), i remember very well my mom and grandma's efforts to reform me, their frustration, and utter exasperation at how i could possibly be so messy and why i couldn't keep clean a room that we had just worked so hard to make perfect.
of course, they told me what to do, how to keep it clean. when you're done playing with something, put it away. put away one thing before you pull out something else. you should make your bed every morning. when you get undressed, put your clothes in the hamper (not that i had one in my room or the bathroom) or put them away if they're still clean. but no one took the time to help me put these simple tasks into practice, to develop habits. i never had a morning or bedtime routine or a specific clean-up time. i'm not trying to blame others, as i did know what i was supposed to do, but i'm still trying to teach myself to keep house. i wish i had learned these things a long time ago, by example, maybe.
i'm not saying any parent here isn't engaged with their messy kids or isn't teaching by example - this is just what i think would have helped me as a younger (to about age 10?) child. i've also been thinking a lot about privilege and responsibility, how owning a beautiful home on a beautiful lot requires that i take care of those things, or i shouldn't be allowed to have them. that may resonate more with an older child, not in a punitive way, but more learning to be truly grateful and to be a good steward of our belongings and resources.
thanks for reading my ramble. i hope it will be helpful to someone! if not a tidy parent who doesn't get their messy child, then maybe at least another messy grown-up-child can relate!