Yes. We’re on Day 4 and the rooms are looking good.
“You were right, Mom. I think my friends would feel a lot better with our room like this.”
Well, who knew she was listening when I pontificated months ago about how rude it is to invite your friends into a virtual pig sty. At that time, they rolled their eyes and moaned that everyone’s rooms look like theirs’. Of course, I opted for the course of least resistance and figured they could reap the rewards of a messy room reputation. Glad to know they are getting a taste of how good it feels to be orderly.
Everyone in our house shares a room. My boys are about to be able to commiserate with Greg, Peter & Bobby as we will soon move Jack into their bunk room. So, not only are these kids de-cluttering their own mess, but they are navigating some tricky waters of dealing with their siblings stuff. I’ve already gotten a good dose of the “it was HER underwear!!… not MINE!” whine. Mean Mom response: “Work it out.”
It could either lead to WWIII or they might figure out how to 1) serve others (and we all know that serving your family is the toughest order around), 2) creatively find a solution to use each other’s strengths (one of my girls actually loves organizing and cleaning, while the other enjoys making it look cute), or 3) just do the work, even if it isn’t your stuff, because guess what — life isn’t fair.
As I suspected at the onset, this has been an easier transition for my girls than for the boys. The girls get the idea that cleaning up the clutter means putting ALL the stuff away. My boys have been pushing the envelope from the get go.
Pajama pants on the bathroom counter: “What’s the big deal?. They weren’t on the floor.”
Toothbrush & toothpaste left out by the sink: “Why does it need to go in a drawer?! I’m just going to have to get it out tonight.”
Wet towel on the floor: “That’s where I put it.” (is he for real??)
Pajama boxers draped over the tub: “Those aren’t dirty. I’m wearing them tonight.” … oh that’s not one of the kids.. that’s Jon, a whole different issue.
I’ve been convicted, too, of how embarrassing this is. To think I’m excited about them making their beds! Only slightly pathetic. We should have had this down at age 4. But, I can’t look back, only forward. The past is the past, but the future has hope.
Please share your comments (click on “Comments” below). Share what works for you, any questions, ideas or topic suggestions. (I would never have come up with jar incentive on my own … and it’s working.) We’ll have a local clutter-control guru guest commentate next week to give us tips on tween/teen strategies.
Thanks for walking the road with me.
Saw an article today on you and your plans. I must say that I absolutely love the idea and applaud your efforts. I've got two kids, 10 and 9, and do a decent job keeping them under control in the shared parts of the house but I've let the bedrooms slip *gasp. I'll be borrowing your jar and $30 idea to help there.
One of the best things I ever did was to attend a series of Love and Logic parenting sessions that were offered at my son's school when he was in the 4th grade. This taught me how to hold my son accountable for his decisions and behavior without being a nag or policeman, which I was making the mistake of doing.
i just found your site from the DMN article. As the mother of two (8 & 7) can I say that I am SO EXCITED by your ideas! I am making the $30 jars tonight, we'll talk about it all weekend, and Monday will be gameday. Thanks for helping me get started on teaching my kids some very important lessons.
hi Kay — thanks for the link to your blog. Beautiful snowy day, but Matthew is the only one home from school today. With the other 3 kids gone, and inspired by your example, I let him play for awhile then decided to commence over-due training in chores. Here, verbatim, is our conversation:
Me (cheerfully): ok, time to do the dishes
Matthew (genuinely confused): dishes? what do you DO to dishes?
Me: we wash them
Matthew: but I'm a BOY!
Oh my word. We are worse off than I thought. Just so you know, we DID wash the dishes together — and had a good conversation while doing so. By the way, this is my first blog post ever in my life. Guess I'm late to the game in alot of things–
I love the idea and am reading your book – good stuff! I was wondering if you had any suggestions on how to handle kids the room sharing/cleaning when not all share a room? My son has his own room while the girls share. I’m thinking about doing three jars … but don’t want to police the “that’s her mess” thing. Thoughts?