“Cinderella & Kit” are also known as Paul & Hannah.
Why do I so seldom remember that they live here? I always feel like I must do everything, and if I don’t do it, it simply will not get done. I run myself aground trying to keep up with the activities of daily living (more commonly known as ADL’s). Then, I start to remember that Cinderella & Kit are right here and able to do a lot of work for me!
We all live here, so there no reason we shouldn’t all work here. And it’s as simple as me telling them what to do. Tonight, I simply said the word, and when I was finished putting the two youngest ones to bed, the dishwasher was unloaded, Hannah was loading all the dishes in, Paul had cleared the table and was wiping it off for the second time. And they were both very happy.
The same is true when it comes to emptying trash cans, moving laundry around (washer to dryer, dryer to upstairs), folding towels and putting them away, and cleaning up a room. All I have to do is say the word, and it is done while I am grading papers, cooking food, or doing some other more advanced task.
A couple months ago, though, there was one area that “saying the word” was not enough to get the work done. It had to do with clothes. (I’m sure everyone else has kids who don’t have any problems with clothes, but mine did.) Every time I went to do laundry, it was a time-consuming task to go in everyone’s room and go through the carpet of clothes on the floor (sometimes it wasn’t over the entire floor, but you get the picture), figuring out what was clean and they never put it away from the last washing, and what was dirty that they had failed to put in the laundry bag when they took it off.
I talked, I begged, I instructed, I even got, ahem, emotional (euphemism for loud and exasperated!) about it at times. There was no change. I knew if I didn’t take care of the problem, it would remain a problem–more specifically, my problem. I was the one who suffered from this, not them! (They probably secretly enjoyed watching me get all worked up over something that didn’t matter a bit to them.)
I so hated to do this. The ultimatum seemed so harsh. But I did it anyway. I gave a speech and told Cinderella & Kit that every time I saw a piece of their clothes on the floor anywhere in the house, they had to pay me 5 cents. Within the next 24 hours, that rule was tested, and I (with a little pain in my heart) held firm and made them pay up. After that initial episode, it was a long time before I saw any more clothes on the floor. In the months to follow, there have been a couple more pay-up times, but they are seldom.
I cannot begin to tell you how much better and easier all of our lives are! No more clothes on the floor in the bedrooms! No more socks randomly scattered around the house because somebody just felt like shedding where ever they were. No more dirty clothes all over the bathroom floor after someone took a bath.
And when I go to do laundry, I do a quick scan and pick-up of clothes in the Marie and Rachel’s room (I still sometimes fail to instruct them on putting their clothes in the correct laundry bag each night), pick up the laundry bags, and head to the basement. This program saves me so much time!
I realize a 5 cent fine might not seem like much of a motivator, but if you realized how slowly their piggy banks are fed (we don’t give our kids an allowance), it would be obvious why that is a big incentive for them. (I have heard of someone who charged their kids a dollar for every piece of clothes left on the floor.)
I’m not sure if our kids, in their adult years, will remember this as “Mom’s money-making program” or “Mom’s training program” (Hannah has stated she thinks this is my latest method of making money). Regardless, I’m hoping they will be more responsible adults conscientious about putting things where they belong and not just letting them lie where they fall.