Friday, June 25, 2010

The fight to clean up...

Do you ever have some days where you don't know what to do next? or you want to have an anxiety attack just by walking around your house? or you feel that no matter what you do, your kids just don't listen???

Well, the last few days, I would answer the above questions yes and yes and ummmmm yes... I don't know what it is, but lately, I have felt like the girls have just taken a nose dive with behavior, especially putting their toys away. Their toys have been everywhere lately and no matter how hard we try to get them to pick up, they won't. The other day, I set the timer to 3 minutes and I told them they better start to pick up and if they hadn't, I would take a toy away. Sure enough, the timer went off and they hadn't picked anything up. I took a toy away. They squealed, but didn't freak too much. If and when they do pick up, they will start, but Mairead will start whining and say "help meeeeeeeeeee, you pick uppppp" no. You made the mess, now, pick it up. Of course, this prompts me to ask what she does at school "do you pick up your toys or does your teacher?" and Mairead responds "No, my teacher doesn't pick up after me, I have to pick up my toys". I know she can do it. Don't get me wrong, I spend a lot of time picking up and organizing their playroom, so it isn't like I don't help. I do. A lot. Maybe too much?

After spending THREE hours cleaning the house on Wednesday and paying a sitter to watch the girls, tonight was the icing on the cake. The playroom was a disaster. Toys were everywhere. We told the girls at dinner if they picked up their playroom, they would be able to spend a little time outside before bed. They went into the toy room and sure enough, they wouldn't pick up. They tried to get us to do it for them but we refused. Kevin even pulled the Santa card and gave him a call. Mairead responded "That's okay, I'll just get toys for my birthday instead" - HAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Seriously???? WHO is this child???  Kevin asked the girls one final time to pick up and they wouldn't, so that was the final straw for me. Kevin grabbed a few boxes from the garage and away went the toys. The girls were crying "don't take my toys away" and all sorts of other drama, but we did. We had to. We told them we would do this...We didn't take everything away. We left their dolls, their clothes and their dress up toys. The kitchen food, legos, spinaroos, doctor bag, barbies, dollhouses and various other goodies went away. OK, so maybe not the perfect approach, but it sparked some emotion, and obviously all the other threats were not working, so maybe this will???? I don't know. I've never done this before.

After baths, I laid down with Mairead and talked about why we did what we did. I had to let her understand that we have to take care of our things. Many toys in their playroom were given to them as gifts and if they want people to continue giving them gifts, they need to show them they can take care of what they have already. So, until they can show us they can take care of their dolls and dress up clothes, the other toys will remain in the garage. If they do well with clean up, we will slowly give their toys back, and if they don't, well, they'll start losing more.

I am also going to implement a "chore" chart for the girls. For Mairead, her daily expectations will be something like: Putting her dishes in the sink when finished, putting clothes in hamper, milk in fridge when done, shoes in basket and clean up toys. For Lilah, her daily expectations will be something like: Shoes in basket, clean up toys and clothes in hamper.

I don't know if any of this will make a difference, but I pray it will. I hope our girls will learn to appreciate the toys they have. They are lucky.

Anyone have any suggestions??? :)

What works in your house??? 


  1. I have taken ALL, I mean every single toy in her room, toys away from Paige. I have done it twice. First time it was just what was on the floor and not put away. Second time, EVERYTHING. She had to earn back her toys. One toy at a time. She had to listen, clean up, etc. to earn a toy back. We still have issues, it did not fix it completely. But now she knows I mean business. When I go get the garbage bag, she cleans so fast!
    Lilah can put her dished in the sink also, Emalee does! We will also be working on more cleaning problems once we get settled into our new home (it is too small not too!) but I am messy also, so I have to work on it too!

  2. I have been there. I have taken toys away too. And thrown away some things (usually Happy Meal toys and gadgety cheap stuff, but it makes a point). My girls are 8 and 10 now. They are each responsible for their room and the playroom. I sometimes have to go in and tell them what to do: clean off the top of the dresser, put their shoes in the closet, put away their laundry, etc.

    Last summer, we had a rewards chart. I may do that again this year. We will see how it goes. But they got a check every time they cleaned up, set the table, cleared the table, etc. and so many checks equaled a treat: renting a DVD or going out for ice cream or having a friend sleep over.

    I am seeing with my 10 year old that it does get easier. She keeps her room fairly neat now. She'll sometimes leave her shoes lying in the middle of her room or leave markers and pens and paper lying on her desk, but that is about it.

  3. Ok, I had this great LONG responses here and my computer rebooted!!!!!!!!!! Ugh.

  4. We've so been there. I can't function in a messy house, It makes my brain messy. We have taken toys away and packed them in the attic until the girls could earn them back with good behavior and proving they could keep the playroom and bedroom clean. It made quite an impact that's for sure, it still happens on occasion, but they know what the consequence is now, so it's rare.
    Our issue as of the past couple of weeks was forgetting our manners and not saying our please and thank yous. And just whining or demanding instead. We nipped that one in the bud real fast.


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