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Cleaning 103 – the winds of change.

I recently lost my mind due to the overwhelming amount of mess my family makes. You can read about it in the previous post. I promised I would share the tricks and tips we’re using to change our kids’ messy ways, so here you go:

Disclaimer: I am not a parenting expert. I’m barely an amateur. I’m thinking of starting “Parenting Fail Friday” on here because I probably have enough moments to post at least one epic fail a week. Please do not think I’m telling you how to raise your kids. Or to change the way you do things. Chances are, you’re a genius and have been doing these things for a while.

This has nothing to do with this post. I just thought it was funny. Original photo by Rusty Haskell on Flickr.

  1. Reward the good. The Nerd and I devised an allowance system for Punkin. She has mandatory chores that she must do daily to earn her allowance – cleaning her bedroom and the playroom. In addition, she can earn bonus money with extra chores like putting away all the clean laundry (which I ALWAYS put off) and emptying the dishwasher. She has been super excited about this, because after two weeks, she has enough spending money to buy hot lunch at school. I always pack her lunch because it’s cheaper and healthier, so earning a “balanced” meal in the cafeteria is a huge motivator. We have a chart that we put up at the start of each week, and she checks off which chores she completes each day. At the end of the week, it’s pay-day. (Bonus: we’re also using this to teach her about tithing, saving, and spending.) I wasn’t planning on doing this for Goo, but I’m having second thoughts. I’m thinking a sticker chart is a great way for her to learn about responsibility and rewards. We may opt for a special treat (like a board book) instead of money. We’ll see.
  2. Discipline the bad. Nobody likes this part. But if you have kids, you have to discipline. I know this, you know this. Whenever we’re focusing on a new character trait, it is absolutely grueling in the beginning. Seriously, I won’t beat around the bush. There are more time-outs than I can count, tears, tantrums, arguments, tempers. It’s not fun. But when we’re ruthlessly consistent, they learn quickly, and it’s (sort of) smooth sailing after that. For a while. On that one thing we were working on. I’m giving you tips, not a miracle. Goo is famous for pushing boundaries and testing me. But here’s the thing: I always follow through. With a kid like that, you have to. So my biggest tip of all: if you tell the kids they have to clean, DO NOT threaten them with a consequence you are not 100% willing to carry out. If you do not have every intention of taking their beloved stuffed animal Fluffy to the curb on trash day, don’t tell them you’ll throw it out. They will call your bluff, trust me. I speak from experience. Around here, it’s warning, then time-out, repeat if when necessary. Punkin has lost bigger things when needed, like TV privileges or a play date. But honestly, I won’t cancel Christmas if the playroom doesn’t get done, so I won’t threaten that. You get the idea.
  3. Start young. Sigh. This was my biggest mistake (I make them frequently). I should have had Punkin involved in cleaning, and responsible for certain things, from the get-go. Live and learn. Goo gets an earlier start, and now even Smush joins in the fun with putting things in containers. She doesn’t always leave them there, but we sing that annoying “Clean up, clean up,” song and she gets the idea the cleaning is something that happens often, with everyone involved.
  4. Don’t give up. Or give in. Here was another one of my pitfalls. It always took them so. flippin. long. to clean anything that I would cave and just do it myself. DON’T DO THIS! Learn from my suffering. Stick to your guns. Wait out the storm. Hold your ground. Grab a steamy hot cup of coffee, and dig your heels in. You WILL win. Eventually. Maybe not without tears and trials, but you will be victorious. And then you can join the angels in their heavenly chorus.
Side note: I wrote this yesterday morning. Yesterday afternoon, Goo pulled out a puzzle and asked to do it. I said, “Yeah, you can do a puzzle.” And then the heavens opened up, and she said, “Oh! Wait, Mommy. I need to pick up my other toys first.” This happened twice yesterday. The Nerd came home, I told him, and I literally lifted my hand to heaven and sang hallelujah. No joke. She’s learning. She’s actually getting it. Yesterday, Punkin asked if there were any extra chores to do when she finished the bedroom so she could earn some extra coinage. Oh, heck yes.
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But I couldn’t do a whole post without including a healthy dose of my ever-present mediocrity. After my glorious victory in the cleaning battle, the fact that Goo and Smush had missed their naps took full effect. I went to work that evening, and came home to find puzzle pieces scattered, scraps of paper strewn about, and the playroom not picked up. It didn’t help that the Nerd had to help Emma with her homework, which consisted of a math worksheet, 20 min of reading, and cutting letters out of newspaper and gluing them on paper to list her spelling words. That’s a total of 77 individual letters to cut and glue. I blame last night’s cleaning failure on that stupid assignment.
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We’re a work in progress. It’s still early in the game, but we’re noticing vast improvements already. Minus that whole puzzle pieces/paper/toys everywhere debacle. But, these are adventures in mediocre parenting, not expert parenting. Happy mediocrity.
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About Mediocre Mom

I am a wife to the man who was made for me, and mom to three amazing girls: Punkin is eight, Goo is four, and Smush is two. I'm a Christian, a science geek, and completely addicted to coffee. Trying to stay sane one day at a time. Lowering the bar for moms everywhere.

2 responses »

  1. Pingback: The end of an era. « Confessions of a Mediocre Mom

  2. Pingback: Parenting Fail Friday #1 « Confessions of a Mediocre Mom

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