Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Kids and Bedrooms (Also subtitled When oh When Will Children Learn It Is Easier to Put It Away Immediately Rather than Throwing It On the Floor?)

Okay, talk to me about kids and clean bedrooms.  I am struggling to find a balance between giving my kids the freedom to make choices and having a disaster area 24-7.  In our old house, the bedrooms were all upstairs and the kids rarely played in their rooms so the rooms were rarely messy.  Plus, my kids were younger so I was more apt to take the time to help them clean if things were messy.  Now, our house is all one level so the kids play in their rooms often.  Plus now that my kids are in kindergarten, I have a bit different expectations for them and their ability to keep their own space clean.  I don't mind providing some occasional guidance especially if we've done a major cleaning under the bed or cleaning out the closet but the day to day maintanence of not just throwing stuff on the floor, they should be able to handle on their own.

We started by saying that anyone who had a clean room on Friday night could go get doughnuts with D on Saturday mornings.  That just resulted in them waiting until Friday to clean which meant huge messes and lots of moaning and groaning and trying to shove everything under the bed.  Then I thought we would try to tie it into our "let's learn about money" program.  Right now, my kids have two chores they must do every day plus the usual things that help to keep the common living spaces of the house clean.  Those are must do jobs with no incentives.  But they can always earn money by doing extra jobs and earning extra money is important because any toys/clothing that they did not pick up after being asked go to the box on the fridge and the kids have to pay to get them back.  So giving them the chance to earn some money every night by having a clean room is not such a bad thing.  However, they both drag their feet about it plus I have to check every night to see if the rooms are clean which cuts into our already busy night.  And often, their rooms are not clean. 

Saying things like "only people with clean rooms get to read books and sing" (ie do the regular night time routine) really doesn't work.  It just means they often chose to miss it and then cry when it happens.  And for my kids, while they are sad about missing out, it often does not change their behavior because the next day is just a repeat of that.  Also, losing toys is not effective.  My kids often do not care all that much if the toys get taken away or even if they get taken to the thrift store.  I'm hoping having to pay money to get them back will be the right currency to help change that behavior.  (Can you tell we struggle with picking up often around here?  My mom even said the same thing when she was here while we were in China.  They are super slow, not easily encouraged to do a thorough job, etc..)

Raising Olives has an idea I kind of like which is to award a Clean Room Award and a weekly prize but to encourage all kids to have clean rooms by creating special priveleges for when there is a tie between the two rooms.  I like that it is competitive but that if the kids work together to get all bedrooms clean, then there is a special treat.  Still not sure if I feel like committing to keeping up with that though.

Other than that, I'm kind of striking out.  Trying to decide what my expectations are...definitely am not ready to let my kids have a pit.  And when it gets too bad, the kids just get overwhelmed and give up before they even start.  But I don't want to be the bedroom police.


Kathy C. said...

It's hard because sometimes things like that become our problem when it should be there problem. Maybe you could put a room closed sign on the door when it's messy and they can't play in there. Or get anything from it.

Kelly said...

What if you set a 5 minute timer before bed and they see how much they can clean up in that 5 minutes...

What we do in our house is "commerical cleaning", during their show of choice at night they have to hurry and clean their rooms during commericals. It breaks up the cleaning and usually gets it all done within the 30 minute show. Sometimes if they are really slow they miss the last bit of the program finishing up their rooms.

Might be worth a shot.

Wordy girl said...

Hey, girl. One thing that helped me with V was to make a very simple clean-room checklist and post it on her bulletin board. I'm telling you, the child has no vision for the difference between a messy room and a clean room. She would go in her room, put away two or three things and proclaim she had "cleaned" it (which, in her mind, she had). Here is what is on our clean-room checklist:

- Only furniture on floor
- Only decorations on furniture
- Straightened covers with only dolls on bed
- All clothes put away
- All drawers closed

After we worked with the checklist for a few weeks (I often had to double check her room and give her some corrections), she started to understand what I was looking for and can now do it on her own. But she was 7 at that time. I had to help her clean her room until at least halfway through 1st grade.