In the weekends, our home typically look like a bomb has just exploded. The kids’ toys are strewn everywhere across the living room – toy cars are wrapped in play dough…shreds of paper or magnetic alphabets for the white board are stuffed into any toys with holes…Lego pieces cover half the hallway with the radius of crop circles…stickers plastered all over the floor…a dozen of plastic balls along with stuffed toys are not where they should be…
In other words, a complete mess. We have found a half-eaten apple in their wooden kitchen set too! God knows how long those pieces have been left there! Eeewww.
Asking them to clean up every hour is a futile effort; they pick a couple of toys to store them back into the toy box, only to take out other things again. For that reason, we usually let the mess be for most of the day. Besides, the toys do keep them occupied for a while, so we tend to turn a blind eye at the mess during the day.
But when it comes to the final clean up before they have their evening shower, the kids drag their feet. They either took their very own sweet time or they ended up getting distracted with other things WHILE they are cleaning up, that the job is never quite done. We can repeat ourselves like a broken record telling them to pick this and that, and that would take just twice as long.
We used to ask them to help store their toys away, as a show of walk-the-talk, but mostly, we were the ones who ended clearing most of their stuff away for them. Not very ideal! I mean, they are the ones who made the mess, why should WE ask them for help when it was their mess in the first place?
Besides, why should we be the ones cleaning up after them? Time for some responsibilities, I think!
This was when I discovered the power of the count. By that I mean counting 1 to 10. And by that, when I tell the little imps that it’s time to clean up, I’ll inform them, in advance, that I’ll be counting from ONE to TEN. And, if they don’t put their toys away when I get to 10, whatever is left on the floor would be binned. And I mean it. (It happened the first time I did the count on them. I DID warn. Major shock factor, major cries. Some of their toys were binned for real and they never got them back)
Thereafter, this counting thing became quite the charm to get them on their asses to clean up. In less than a minute flat (I’ll do a 7…7 and a half…8…and a half…8 and three quarter…), the kids scurry away as they respond to my low, authoritative voice. They hurriedly scramble around the house to pick up whatever toys are on the floor and put them in their toy chests at the very moment I start counting. Depending on the area of mess coverage, I stretch out the counts a little longer
The best part about it: All I had to do was count, I didn’t even need to lift a finger! It’s like I have unlocked the scurrying gnomes!
These days, that’s all we do when we needed them to do something after having to repeat ourselves countless times. This includes things like getting to the table for their meals, putting on their shoes or going to bed. Or I’ll bin one of their favourite toys. I’ve got no remorse whatsoever binning their stuff. It’s our way of instilling the lessons of cause and effect because for every action (or non-action) there would be consequences which they may not like.
I think we’ve been generous. Next time, we’ll only count to 5.
You know what though? It’s kind of fun to watch scurrying gnomes. *evil laugh*