Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: middle of nowhere, KS
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Games, puzzles, and toys with a million pieces are put up high and she can get one out at a time so that parts and pieces dont get lost/mixed up.
Cathy mom to 13 y/o DD, 10 y/o DD, 7 y/o DS
Well - here are my thoughts, since you asked.
I think if your end goal is to have a clean house, then probably the system you describe will be very effective - as long as you are willing to continue it for life. So when your child is a teenager he or she will look for the reward for helping out, like "if you do your chores you can have the car for two hours," etc.
In other words, in your house you will have established that chores are a transaction and unpleasant enough that they deserve a reward (earned the toys back). Lots and lots and lots of adults do chores this way and for this reason and you know, hey, whatever.
For me it is just not the way I want chores to go in my home, even if it means more mess in the short (and potentially long) term. I grew up with a lot of battles & issues around chores and it took me probably 5 years as an adult to begin to see chores as anything other than Punitive And Something To Be Resented.
I personally feel very glad that for the most part (not always!) I now see chores as merely one of the ways I interact with my environment - sure, I do not sing for joy at cleaning the toilet bowl, but I also spend much much MUCH less time hating it or trying to figure out expensive ways to reward myself for doing it. It's just a toilet bowl, it needs to be cleaned, part of my weekly life is that I clean it.
So at my house we do chores by rhythm. At the usual time for cleaning up, we clean up. If my son is into it that day, great. If he isn't, that's okay too. I don't hide my feelings about it either way ("I wish I could have some help with this") but I don't yell, cajole, etc. I simply don't want it to dominate our interactions and our days. My son is only turning 4 so I cannot yet tell you how he will turn out but I would say we're about 75% compliance, and he's starting to surprise me more and more often with choosing to clean things up on his own. He also takes his own plate to the dishwasher, wipes out the tub after his bath, and so on.
He actually is dying to clean the toilet because I told him you have be at least nine years old to do that. He's bargained me down to eight.
I do not have a spotless house at the end of every day, I assure you, but we also have a reasonably pleasant, reasonably pleasant, reasonably clean house.
I do want to say that one thing I feel very strongly about in our home is that this is not "my" house. It is our house. My son had zero say in which kind of home we would buy, whether it would be easy or hard to clean, where the plates are kept, and so on. And yet of the three of us, he is the least able to leave or make other choices.
So for me it's actually most important that he feel okay with being able to use and explore his things. We still have to tidy them up so people don't trip and so they don't get vaccuumed up, but I really don't consider his toys a blight on my spotless life. I am pretty aware that one day he will leave, and I will have a toy-free home again.
See, I've heard it said before about toy ownership, and if I believe that they are my kids toys, I have no right to do anything to them. Well, I believe they are my kids toys BUT they are thrown all over OUR house. So, I feel like even though they are HER toys, they are affecting the way the rest of us live, you know? I have no problem putting toys up for a time if they are not being taken care of. I'm not consensual though...
My take is that if there are too many toys that it's overwhelming for her to keep them picked up, we need to declutter or find a better way to organize them. She understands this and is actually very good about picking up. Of course, our house is pretty picked up in general, so it's easy for her to see that it's only her toys out, you know? I could hardly fault a kid for leaving toys out when there is a bunch of other stuff laying around.
Lately, we have been in a major decluttering mode. I put away 90% of the toys, just moved the shelf we had them on into a closet. The kids can still go get them, they are no off limits. HOWEVER, since we've moved the toys, I can count on one hand (in about 4 months) that they have been played with. It just goes to show that out of sight out of mind. I plan to keep the shelf in the closet and only keep what fits on the shelf. It's worked out great so far, and the house stays SO MUCH cleaner. Games, puzzles, and toys with a million pieces are put up high and she can get one out at a time so that parts and pieces dont get lost/mixed up.
Sorry, I kinda got sidetracked there! I DO help her clean up, I'm not a tyrant or anything! However, if I ask her to pick her stuff up and she refuses, then I remind her that she is creating more work for me, and if she is creating more work for me, I will want to declutter a little bit so that next time there wont be as much for me to pick up...she gets that concept pretty easily.