Wednesday, 1 August 2012

..a tissue, a tissue, we all fall out.

It is a beautiful day today. Blue skies all around, and yet we are going nowhere.

The reason is that I walked through to be shown (in their eyes) their holiday packing, which looked an awful lot to me like everything in Orla's room turfed around all over the floor. That was this morning. We had a chat about how they both needed to tidy it up before we would go out and have some fun or go somewhere nice, and the response was that they are not going to tidy it up. Can you believe it? They actually said they just weren't going to do it.

So, that's that. We're stuck in the house today for the most part. I need to do a little food shopping but aside from that, I am taking them nowhere fun.

It's now lunch time and things haven't improved. If anything, they took another dip just before lunch when I reminded them that we could be out at a park if they just tidied up the toys, and Hamish decided to try and be amusingly cheeky by saying that he would just smack my bum, which he then did. So now after much crying, we are all mulling about in silence, as there's also a tv ban in operation.

I don't think I am being unreasonable in asking them to tidy up after themselves. In fact I think I have been pretty lax in the past. According to the 'Parenting Squad' in their '43 Chores Young Children Can Do' my two should have been putting their toys away between the ages of 18 months and 2 years! Oh God, so it's my fault.

I have tried a few techniques for getting them involved in chores. I have no problem getting them to help empty or fill the dishwasher, or set the table, or help out with other chores, such as sorting washing, hoovering, or even sweeping the floors, but this room tidying/toy putting away thing is driving me nuts. The other thing is that they play a lot of games where they pretend they are going on holiday, or going on a picnic, which involves packing lots of bags with toys and books and play food and bits and pieces from all sorts of different toys and games. For example, they'll pack play food, toys for the plane, books, colouring pencils, 'presents' & clothes, when playing 'holidays' which results in nearly everything being dragged out and discarded. And these games never seem to end! They just blend into one! Anyway, in the quest to get somewhere with this...

I have:
1. tried rewards, with varying success. Hamish can be motivated by chocolate or sweeties, or other non-edible rewards such as promises to go to the park or swimming or out on the bikes. Orla cannot. She just whines and moans and does nothing.

2. tried punishments, with zero success. I figured that if they care so little about their toys, and cannot bring themselves to tidy them up then I would start taking the toys away. Neither of them cared one little bit. Even with supposedly favourite toys.

3. tried doing it with them, yeah, brilliant. I end up nearly everything, Hamish does as little as possible, and Orla does nothing but stands and moans and whines about how unfair it is that she's being asked to do anything until I'm done.

4. oh, and I've screamed, and shouted, and threatened. Again it's got me nowhere, but at least I have felt a little better afterwards. (as I tidy up).

Any ideas? Any suggestions? I am bored being stuck in the house, but I don't want to just give in and tidy up for them any more.


  1. Straight from Supernanny: the star chart! yes, it's still a reward system, but they can work as a team, so if only one of them is motivated, the other one might get interested. Also, the motivated one can help get the other one involved. We do this at our house with a pasta jar (start with 5 pasta)... good behaviour means one pasta goes in the jar, bad behaviour, one goes out! Doesn't matter which kid, so they have to work as a team to get to 10 pasta and their reward (usually I let them watch a movie, which they both love). The other trick I learnt watching that program was when you take the toys away, don't keep them out of sight, put them in a plastic box where the kids can still see them but not play with them. It shows them a couple of things, you set the boundaries, and also motivates them to behave and get the toys back. If you put them away, they can just forget about them. Good luck, let us know how it goes :-)

    1. Well, they eventually gave up at 5pm, deciding they would prefer to tackle it before Daddy got home (though in actual fact he is normally the 'fun' parent where as I am the disiplinarian). Anyway, a passable attempt was made! I have tried reward charts before. Orla is a funny one though and isn't really motivated by them. I guess it probably has a lot to do with finding a reward that she values: she's not materialistic so things don't matter, so maybe something like letting her use my paints for an hour might work. Hamish on the other hand would probably sell his granny for a Smartie.

  2. I would also suggest making it super easy to pack up.

    Our system isn't pretty, but it was cheap and works well.
    I got a bunch of large plastic tubs (Ikea), had the kids sort their toys into 'groups', and then labelled the tubs accordingly (dolls, trains, lego, dress ups, bags etc).

    If play time is limited, I only allow them 1 tub each, so at pack up time they can just fling everything into the tub and put it back in the cupboard.

    On days when they can take out as many tubs as they want, clean up is still fairly uncomplicated. We line the tubs up, and just pile everything in.

    Other tricks include a stopwatch. If we have several tubs of stuff all spread across the floor, one kids picks what tub they want to fill. The other one stands with a stop watch and times them packing away 1 tub worth of stuff. Then they switch, and that way they often pack away all their things fairly quickly without having realised they have done it.

    And despite a cupboard full of toys, mostly they still want to play in the garden with a stick!

    1. Fiona, I think this might work for me. They are close enough in age that they enjoying competing against each other. I might just find myself investing in some plastic crates. And anyway, it's just another excuse to visit IKEA :-)

  3. Hahaha, as I was reading that first comment I kept imagining that however much pasta was in the jar at night would be what they would be getting for dinner. A couple of hungry nights and wa-la! Clean rooms! Haha. (Note: I am very much kidding here, people of the internet who don't know me and might be reading this.)

    1. Ha, ha, that's a fine idea! Just you wait you new mother, you! Mine would tell me to stick the pasta, then emerge at 10pm whining incessantly till I crumbled that they needed toast. Honestly, the whining breaks me, and they know it.

  4. I just popped in to see how (if) it has worked out:) Thanks for the ideas, too.

    1. I still have to get some crates from IKEA but I def. thik adding a bit of competition will work for us.

  5. When we were in England Milo was fantastic at tidying up, at home, not so great but I am untidy too and we don't actually have enough places for him to tidy everything away. Must sort that out though.


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