Lessons in Motherhood, Part 1 : "Clean your room... please?"

15 March 2011

Maybe I wasn't specific enough. Maybe the award was not grand enough. Maybe I expected too much.

So I have sent the children into their bedroom to pick up - with the promise of a shamrock shake drive-by - but instead I hear yelling, lightsaber noise effects, lego crashing and detailed conversations on the nature of the galactic space cruiser. I know that the minutes are short and few before I'm in there on hands and knees putting everything in its (sort of) right place, doing their cleaning for them. They stand to the side, sit on their beds, and smile at the loving mother who came to their rescue.

This happens a lot: I give orders, they agree, then two hours later I'm ankle deep in action figures and frilly pink underwear... the room is clean eventually, but they're no closer to independence or responsibility, and I'm a lot closer to a head full of grey hairs and a fraying sense of mental stability. I know there's a missing link between the words in my mouth and the actions of their little fingers, that special something that will snap them into submission.

Do you know what it is? It would really help me out a lot today...


  1. "Clean your room" is too difficult a concept for kids to handle until they are, well, maybe 14, maybe more.. :)

    It really helps if you break it down for them. "Go in your room and make your beds." When that is done and they report back, give the next instruction. "Go pick up all the clothes from the floor and put them on your bed. When you are done that, then sort them out and put the clean ones away and the dirty ones in the laundry."

    When that job is finished, then tell them, "Pick up all the Lego and put them in the lego box."

    Keep going with step by step instructions until they finish. As mine got older, I am able to combine instructions to three to four steps, but we stick with the same basic steps, so that they not only end up with a clean room, but develop a technique that they learn. Hopefully one day, I will be able to say, "Go clean your room" and they will know what to do.

    That day has not yet arrived. But I have hope.

  2. We have the yelling, screaming and fit throwing around here too...it gets better with consistency. Really.

    I assign them numbers sometimes..."go pick up ten things...nine more...eight more" Sometimes this helps with math more than picking up, but that is okay.

    I have this built in looming condition now that they have friends down the street that they would like to be playing with 24/7. That helps even more...finding that motivation point. Lately I have been requiring picking up with a good attitude too. It is because I have such a fine thing to dangle, though.

    I'm really enjoying your writing, and so glad that you are doing it more...I'm still wishing for more reading time, but I'll get there. :)