Monday, April 4, 2011

Picking battles and pulling sticks

I have three wonderfully messy little people that I spend my days with. They float from one room to another creating little disaster zones with little regard for picking up after themselves. It drives me nuts to walk into a room that I picked up only to find it destroyed yet again. I also don't want to constantly follow them nagging at them to pick up after themselves or do it myself to have it last only a few minutes. I want a clean house and yet I also want my kids to be kids without worrying about every thing they play with being in the perfect spot. I know that there is a fine line between the two worlds, but I've had a hard time finding the line. To make matters worse, the children have also been getting sassier and listening to us less and less. As summer approaches and preschool will soon be out for the year, I feel like I have to nip this in the bud.
After a breakfast with some other mom friends and getting their imput, I devised a new system and so far, it is working. 
 The kids each have a cup and start the day off with three sticks in their cup. We review the rules each morning. 
 We are keeping the rules short, sweet, and simple. We can always add on later, but I don't want to overwhelm them.
If the kids make it to the end of the day with a stick in their cup, they get to pick a treat from the treat jar (I picked treats that I am not so wild about eating myself...who needs the temptation?).
Here is an example of a stick pulling situation...the girls left the table to play upstairs. I called up to them that if they left the mess, I would pull a stick. The mess remained and I followed through with pulling. There may be a meltdown that ensues when they see that I followed through with my rules, but if the meltdown lasts longer than a few seconds, I will warn and pull a stick over that.

So far, this is working for us. It is working, but not because it is a great system, but because we've been consistent. I think that is the secret to parenting, which can be truly hard sometimes (there are some days I will avoid a meltdown at all costs and they know it). So, the battle I am picking right now is a tidy downstairs if they keep the messes to their rooms. A couple times a week, I will ask them to get their rooms picked up so that I can dust and vacuum, but for now, I can live with this. 


  1. What a great idea! I hate nagging almost as much as I hate the messes...almost. My husband is the worst of all (big suprise)! I wonder if this system would work for him?!? ;)

  2. Great idea I am totally stealing it or a version anyway since my kids are similar ages and I have 3 of them too!

  3. Love it Kristen! I hear ya on picking your battles. I can't stand nagging and I get sick of hearing them complain. I'm going to try a system of my own. We're really wanting to start giving the boys an allowance and teaching them to save as well as give back to the church.

    So, with each weekly allowance...if they don't do the everday things like make their beds, or leave clothes all over their floor, or their shoes all over the place, I charge them for my cleaning services. :) And this money comes out of "their" money. It won't come out of their savings or what they'd give to the church, it's the spending cash. And I don't charge a ton, just enough that getting that candy bar or renting that game might take a little longer to do. :)

    We'll see how it goes! But if I don't teach my boys how to pick up after themselves, my future daughters-in-law will hate me! :)