Wednesday, October 10, 2007 for Kids

If I were to pick one family battle that is on the front lines more than any other, it would have to be the Battle of Getting 'Em to Pick Up After Themselves. Yes, I know this is not a battle unique to my family. But, honestly, does anyone EVER get to celebrate a victory? For us, there have been many strategies, but they seem to do little for our troops: lectures go in one ear and out the other; kind, sweet requests get ignored; ranting and raving make their eyes glaze over; charts and rewards get forgotten by both commanders and charges. So what to do? Well, I came up with for kids.

I assigned each kid a zone (if you FLY, you know what I'm talking about), this instead of just telling them to go clean their rooms since their rooms are full of their own mess; I wanted them to experience the joy of cleaning up after someone else! Each child is responsible for his or her own zone and must have it cleaned up in order to have dinner (don't one's going to starve around here!). They can ask for help with messes that aren't theirs, but ultimately, their zone must be ship-shape regardless of whether any aid comes their way or not.

The kids drew from a hat for their zone. Admittedly, Alex got the worst zone, the one that includes the Playroom/Schoolroom. Day 1 was OK--she rose to the challenge of something new. Day 2? A different story. I overheard, "Boys, why do you have to make such a mess?" (Not that she's innocent of all charges!!) "Boys, PLEASE help me clean this up!!" to my ears!! After she was done, she commented to me, "Tomorrow I'm going to sleep until 8:00 PM." Translation: Tomorrow I'm going to sleep well beyond clean-up time and thus rid myself of duty. In other words, her intent is to go AWOL.

That, of course, was perfect timing for a lecture. Alex, how does it feel having to clean up after everyone else? How does it feel to clean something up just to have careless boys come right behind you to mess it up again? And you've only been doing this for 2 days. I've been doing this for 7 1/2 YEARS! Do you understand?

Point taken. But I'm not sure the understanding will turn into action. I'm not setting my expectations too high.

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