If you come here looking for guidance and hope, I’m sorry. None will be found here.
This morning I had a couple of things planned. Visitors coming by. Some people from church, a playdate and my landlord (supposedly, although as I write this post he still has not come). So, in my usual Faking Picture Perfect fashion, I wanted a clean house.
I got up and showered in anticipation of my upcoming visitors, and managed to brush my teeth. Which is always a bonus. As I got kids fed and dressed, I realized I had a lot of work to do. I was breaking a sweat by 8:30 am.
It is so easy to get discouraged by housework isn’t it? And, lately, I’ve been itching to de-clutter closets, and toys. Yet, I’m too busy picking up crap off of my floor to be able to de-clutter. Instead, the only thing I’m de-cluttering are my floors. Over and over and over.
I remembered the basement was a mess from yesterday afternoon. The kids like to have their way in the basement while I do things like blog. So, I say to my kids, “When we’re all done getting dressed, you guys need to go clean up the basement and get it all ready for friends to come over”. There was a collective moan. I ignored it.
I also tricked them into cleaning up their room by pretending it was part of the getting ready routine…that works for a little while. Do you every do that? You know, they come into me after getting all dressed, brushing teeth, etc. and declare that they are ready. I simply say, “Oh, but you didn’t make your bed.” “Oh, but you need to put your dirty clothes in the hamper” “Oh, but you need to pick up your My Little Ponies”. I do this over and over until they catch on. This morning, it worked like a charm, and I managed to get them to clean their room. Score!
But, by the time they went down to the basement, I think my plan of tricking them into cleaning their room backfired.
I stayed upstairs cleaning up, and heard a scream. Not the “I’m hurt” scream but the “I’m fighting with my sister for the millionth time this morning” scream. I hear footsteps on the stairs. “Mommy, Kyle isn’t cleaning”. Meanwhile, Kyle is trailing behind crying because he is being told on. “Kyle, please go help your sister. If you don’t, your friend won’t get to come over”. Sad face. Stomping of foot. Reluctantly flounces down the stairs.
Two. Seconds. Later.
Scream! Footsteps on the stairs. Followed by a crying Kyle. “Kyle still isn’t cleaning up”, Avery says. “Kyle, you have to get the basement clean. Just do it really fast, and work hard. You can do it!” Maybe encouragement will work? Off they go again.
Two. Seconds. Later.
Footsteps. Crying. I know what I’m going to hear by now, and am already bracing myself. Stay calm, I think to myself. “Kyle STILL isn’t cleaning”. At this point, he is hysterical, so I send him to time out just long enough to calm himself down. Avery is directed back downstairs.
Finally he is calm, and I ask him, “Kyle, why aren’t you helping to clean up?” He replies, “Because I HATE cleaning up” At least he is honest. I respond, “I hate cleaning up too, but it’s part of being responsible and taking care of our own messes”.
Blank stare from the 4 year old.
“I’ll give you some of my candy I bought at the store yesterday that you haven’t tried yet”. Five minutes later, the basement looks fabulous.
So, if you are looking for answers, here it is: Bribery. Preferably something chocolate.
We have a chore chart that we found on….you guessed it. Pinterest. If only Pinterest could follow through just once on all the false hope it gives me. I would really appreciate it.
It’s my fault really. I get lazy. Teaching your kids to be responsible is not easy. It IS work. That is an irony if I’ve ever seen one. You have to be consistent to get them to be consistent. We used the chart, and started a point system with popsicle sticks that they could trade in for various rewards like small toys or trips out to do something fun. It worked for a while like a charm, but then I stopped reminding, and it dwindled. Now, we are back to our routine of Mom asking kids to do one little thing and foot stomping and saying no. Time out, and then finally doing it. It is easier to clean up the messes myself. Yet, always being the one to clean up is making me crazy.
WHAT IS THE ANSWER?!!!! Please, Universe. Tell me how to magically make my kids responsible, self-sufficient humans without doing any work. Because working to get them to work is killing me.
Teaching kids to work is one of the hardest kinds of work you have to do as a parent. It’s the kind of painstakingly slow work that makes you want to just say screw it, their rooms can stay messy. Or, “I’ll just do it myself.”
But, then you look under their beds, or the couch, or the piano, or any other large piece of furniture and spot all the toys that they have been crying over “losing” the past month, and you realize, “Crap. Better get to work again”.
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