This past Friday, on the verge of ripping out either my hair or my kids hair (put down the phone, no need to call CPS it’s a joke to express my level of frustration) I tried a different approach to getting their room clean. This has been the biggest issue with our family, and while it’s small potatoes compared to some it is no less just as frustrating. I’ve tried threats, promises, bribes, throwing away things, etc.
I listened to them, while they cleaned. I heard the oldest say she’s giving up because it’s going to take forever and it’ll never get done. Quite the defeatist attitude but then she’s 8, as an adult I know better. I know it would get done VERY quickly if they’d just stop playing with things and move. We all know this, we parents can’t seem to get past what we know and think like a child. We expect so much from them because we know how much they’re capable of but how often do we forget that emotionally they’re still very young. I think its more common with homeschoolers but that’s just my experience.
You want me to get to the point right? Ok here it is;
Post-its. Go grab some and a pen; now head to the kids room. Start labeling by numbers, #1 could be the entrance to the room. Behind the door and any hanging things around the door. This area is to be completed before moving on to #2 which would be, in my girls room, the bookcase and onto #3, their bunk beds.
Now each station also has a master list, a how to clean it. Remove all trash, remove all items (books from the bookcase, sheets and animals from the bed, so on) and wipe down or vacuum/sweep, maybe take a rag to the baseboard whatever you like. The point is to make it a step by step method that they can ‘check off’ what is getting accomplished. It needs to be as basic as possible. This helped by having them look back at what they’ve accomplished when the urge to quit comes on. “Look how much you’ve cleaned, you’re almost done!” Sweep those post-its up as you go along and soon each little section will be cleaned!
Also, if you say something…mean it! We had a habit of threatening to not go somewhere (that mommy and daddy wanted to go) if the room wasn’t clean and we’d end up going anyway-because why should our fun be ruined, right? That stopped, we don’t go period. I had Mr. start checking their room so he could see more of the problem and become more involved in the solution. He usually came home to me frazzled and enforced what I said but didn’t really participate in making it get done, seeing what was really happening and so on.
Along with this make a weekly plan, a reward system. Each day we’ve incorporated some sort of reward, an activity they look forward too as a motivation to keep on the right track. Monday is library and possibly bowling, Tuesday is park (weather permitting) and project as well as roller skating. Wednesday movie night, Thursday will be board game night, Friday is for video games. We’re still working out the kinks on which days are for what rewards and the weekends are more open to variation; camping, hiking, and the like.
I don’t think it’s too much to reward them every day, and really the rewards we have agreed on are things most people take for granted. In an older post I stated we want to do more activities, in comes the bowling, skating, and hiking. The rest are just things around the house that we can do as family time. Dedicated family time, which may be exactly what their problem has been.
It’s too easy for parents to think they’re ‘spending time’ with their kids by watching tv in the same room. Yes here I go getting my know it all hat on. We’re guilty of this as well, thinking we’re doing good on the quality time front when we’re failing miserably. When is the last time you colored with your kid, played on the floor with them. How often do you tell them positive things, versus how often you’re correcting them? Before you say all the time, really think about it. I know I’m not the only one who’s slacking but there are a lot who will not admit it, to themselves or otherwise.