Monday, January 5, 2009

Can this house be de-slobbified?

Chores. Just say the word, and my kids sigh, roll their eyes, whine and even throw tearful, full-blown tantrums. It's ridiculous. Notice Hayley in this picture? Lovely, isn't she? This is her typical chore resistance look, usually followed by "why do I always have to do the dishes?", even though it's usually me who does the dish washing. Frankly, I think they have it way too easy. I don't make them do HALF the amount of chores I was required to do when I was their age! (Warning: a "when I was a kid" rant up ahead!)

By the time I was 8 or 9, I was required to wash and dry dishes, wash and fold laundry, keep my room spotless, dust, vacuum, rake leaves and other household chores. Now granted, my parents were tyrants (sorry mom, you know it's true) but still, we did those dreaded chores, and we didn't argue about it or blow them off. No way. That would have resulted in swift corporal punishment, something that most children these days are sheltered from because of the fear that a firm swat to their pampered behinds or a mouthful of soap could psychologically damage them for the rest of their lives. That itself could be a blog discussion (and a long run-on sentence) for another day, but I digress...

I don't ask a lot from my kids. In fact, I haven't required them to do much around the house other than eat, sleep and breathe. Even then, sometimes getting them to do just two of those three minor tasks poses a challenge for me. It's not that I haven't tried to get them to be more tidy and responsible, it just seems to go in one ear and out the other. Also, my version of clean is usually different than everyone else's version (including my husband's), so often times it's just easier to do something myself. Chris, however, has become disgusted with the laziness and lack of initiative that goes on in this house, and I have to agree with him. Our children are slobs, and we need to run a tighter ship.

Last week I spent a couple of hours decontaminating the boys room and recovering their toys from all over the house. It was pretty bad - acorns and random rocks under beds, legos everywhere, boogers on the wall, dirty pull-ups under the bed and dirty clothes mixed with clean. The next day, it took them half that time to destroy it all over again. After reminding them over and over to clean it up, I did what any fed up mom would do - I told them that if they didn't pick up their toys, I would go in there with a trash bag and do it myself. This warning was first met with tears and fears, and then disregarded. So today, while they napped, I finally followed through and took every toy out of their room except for their favorite nighttime stuffies, books, and their new Didji video games. When they woke up and saw what I had done, they were ticked. Austin sat on the floor in the middle of his room, distraught over the loss of his new light saber and his Pokeman cards. Matt sort of wandered around his empty space, not too surprised, but curious as to whether or not he could still play the Wii, located downstairs. The kid has his priorities.

They're going to have to earn their toys back, and that is by being responsible and simply picking up after themselves. It shouldn't be too hard with what little possessions they still have left, but you never know. I've also decided that at 6 and 7, they aren't too young to start putting their own clothes away (a chore I'm not fond of). I color coordinated their closet to help make it easier for them to put things where they belong. The bonus, their organized clothes make for a nice rainbow in their closet! Todays attempt at hanging their own clothes was mildly successful. Matt thought it was cool (it's like a pattern, mom). Austin, not so much. Only a few clothes were hung out of the color order. We'll try again tomorrow.

Now, what to do with Hayley. Up until a couple of years ago, she had the cleanest room in the house. From early on, she was extremely organized and a bit of a neat-nik, to the point that she would know if you moved a book several inches on her desk. We used to mess with her stuff just to see if she'd notice, and she almost always would! It was a habit we liked to brag about, as if having a child who was extremely tidy was a reflection of our fabulous parenting. Well, apparently our parenting skills weren't all that, because her quest for tidiness has now been replaced by her dislike of anything that takes her away from texting, watching TV, and playing on her computer. She has until the end of this week to restore order to her room, or she's going to lose the phone, computer, and quite possibly the TV. We're SO mean.

Something Chris and I have to keep in mind is that our kids learn by watching, which means that we have to pay more attention to our own slobbery. So, being that this is the start of a new year, our family is going to set goals of de-slobbifying our house and becoming more responsible, with a new challenge every month. Baby steps, if you will. This month we are organizing our personal space, our bedrooms, while learning that there are consequences for not keeping them clean. Next month maybe we'll tackle the garage, or organize our kitchen. By the end of the year, our house should be completely organized and running like a well-oiled machine. We might even have some more responsible kids. Consider it our new year's resolution!


Julie said...

I totally love the garbage bag trick. It works like a glove. I have to do it about 3 times a year.
Keep posting...I'm learning from YOU!

Drago Family said...

You are so funny! Love that caught a dish washing momment on film. Thanks for warning me that this is what I have to look forward to. \"/