Desperate Times Call For. . .

DESPERATE MEASURES!! Arrrgh! I'm about to pull my hair out with frustration. Yeah, I know most people don't expect their boys to actually keep their rooms clean for real. I however, am not most people. I have very high expectations when it comes to teaching my kids (boys especially) to clean up after themselves.

I live with a wonderfull man who has many traits that I would want my boys to emulate. But, you guessed it, he's not so adept in the putting things back where they came from department. For whatever reason, that talent escapes him.

I have tried every strategy I know for the boys room. Here's what usually unfolds:

I step on one too many tiny Legos with my bare feet.

I shoo the boys out for the afternoon and spend several hours sorting, re-organizing, and bagging up stuff to donate.

I use the newly cleaned-by-me-and-not-them room as a teachable moment to explain to them what the word "grace" means. This lesson is usually interrupted by Benji's shooting and driving noises as he dumps out bins in search of his favorite toys that I've moved.

I tell the boys kindly but firmly that each night before bed they are to pick up everything they got out, and that if they do it each night it will only take 5 minutes.

I tell Marvin (he's usually the one that puts them to bed) that he should supervise them picking up each night and if they do it each night it should only take 5 minutes.

I go in their room what seems like a day later and blink in amazement at what appears to be a toy hurricane that has swallowed their room.

"Honey!" I shout, "Didn't you have them pick up last night (and the night before and the night before)?" Since I don't really need that question answered, I back slowly out of the room pretending that I don't see it and maybe it will go away.

Tonight I told Alec that I couldn't stand to be in his room, that it was so messy it made me want to vomit. Yes, I know that probably isn't right up there with good parenting tactics, but it sure made me feel a teeny weeny bit better to say it.

After what seems to be several years of running in this same circle, I'm ready to do something really drastic. It occurred to me that even though the boys would be furious and there would be much weeping and pleading when I toted two thirds of their toys to the local Goodwill store, I would actually be doing them a favor.

My theory is this: IF they had so few toys that it only took them 10 minutes to pick up their entire room (instead of an hour!), THEN instead of me spending time telling them to clean up and them spending time doing it, they would have more time to play. Sounds simple, right?

Something tells me it's not going to be that easy. . .

5 readers took time to leave a thought:

Charity August 29, 2008 at 10:08 PM  

Well, I hate to say it but I am so glad I am not the only one that has this issue. One thing that is working now is we have a 'toy pantry', which is a closet that they can put all their toys in inside of crates and basket dedicated to different types of toys.

So, sometimes I try to make a game of picking up and we even have a little song. But other times I just wade through the sea of toys on the floor and let it be ;)

Karen August 29, 2008 at 10:45 PM  

You are definetely not the only one with this issue. I too cannot stand the "toy mess." Haven't been successful at getting Cole to help too much either. I keep trying to think of easier ways to organize them and put them away, but it doesn't seem to help. And I often wonder if most of my life isn't spent "picking up" things. And for me it's not just toys. You can tell exactly what my hubby has been doing if he is home because nothing gets closed or put back there is a literal trail behind him:) I keep reminding myself though that they are still little and when I am old I can sit in my organized house and feel lonely:)

Kelly August 30, 2008 at 4:03 AM  

I have been trying to get my son to clean his room for a long time. He now says, "you do it". And he knows I will cuz I can't stand the mess. I just wish I could win this battle.

Have a fantastic weekend.

Faith Hope Love Mama August 31, 2008 at 5:34 AM  

Just letting you know that I've made the same comment to my kiddos. I've also said better and much worse. I have a hard time with my middle daughter. She is a hoarder. I don't save anything and run this house like a tidy ship. She saves everything. Even stuff like gum wrappers. Tooth picks. I mean really. :)

MerrandaVK September 2, 2008 at 9:15 PM  

LOVE IT, you are a riot!! I have been there.. and now... my kids are ONLY allowed books in their rooms. NO TOYS (although my son is sneaky and hides some toys in his bed). All the toys are in the family room only.

Oh, and stepping on legos makes me want to vomit too.

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