Friday, February 4, 2011

The 15 minute clean-up challenge

One thing I don't like about parenting is after 10,000 years of civilization, it is still a big experiment. Nobody has an exact answer for a common problem. You can read books until you go nuts, and you won't know anything more definite than when you started.

Ever since the kids have been here it is our routine they clean up their toys and their room before supper, or at least before bedtime. After 18 months we were still having to nag them constantly to keep them on task at clean up time. They are both old enough to follow directions and stay on task when they want to. It doesn't help they have so many toys and books, and they think they have to drag every one out before the end of the day.

I finally came up with a "genius" idea; give them 15 minutes to clean up, and anything not put away would be taken away.
  • Day one, 50% of their possessions did not get put away. Removed.
  • Day two, 50% of what was out did not get put up. Removed.
  • Day three, 50% of what few things they had left did not get put away. Removed.
Now before you think I am cruel, you have to remember kids can play with anything. And it is my belief the less they have the more creative they are besides. They certainly are not wandering around the house dejected, bored, and looking for entertainment. They spent most of the morning playing tug of war with a blanket off their bed, and carrying a baseball in a frisbe pretending it was food, for instance.

I digress.

Problem is they have so few things to put away now, I am not sure they are getting the message. I am thinking if they had it all back, they would be right back where they started. Messing around not cleaning up. Not so sure this experiment was such a good idea. No harm, no foul, but quite a wasted effort I think.

Picture of frost on the framework around our back door. We did get down to -7 Thursday morning.