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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Adventures in Tough Love.

Miss Priss (also known as Kaitlynn) is known to keep us laughing most days. EVEN THOUGH she's stubborn, hard-headed, determined, *like her mom*, etc... She's always a hoot. And darn cute if I do say so myself.






















However, tonight's post is not about being cute.... or funny. It's about the other side of Kaitlynn. See? It's true, I tell ya.

















One of our biggest battles, is getting the girl to keep her bedroom clean. I don't expect perfection, I don't expect the nazi-type organization that I prefer for myself, (please don't check my house for proof!), I just expect to have a decent size pathway from the door to her bed. At the LEAST. Before you form an opinion, I know she's fours years old. I know four year olds aren't necessarily very tidy. I completely get that. But this? This was out of control. The mess was flowing into the hallway and the upstairs bathroom and it was time to call it quits.
Whenever she's asked to clean her room, It's the same old six step process each time.
Step #1 - She makes a mess of unimaginable proportions.
Step #2 - We're on her case to clean it for days on end.
Step #3 - She refuses to clean it
Step #4 - Mom spends hours cleaning and organizing and silently cursing along the way.
Step #5 - The afternoon ends with me threatening, "Kaitlynn, I'm not going to do this again. If you don't keep your room clean, next time you are going to have to clean all by yourself."
Step #6 - Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
She knows how to play the game. She knows I'm going to break down and do it for her because I can't stand the clutter; especially when company is on his/her way. Hubby and I have been on her for almost a week now, to clean up the disaster that was (notice the use of past tense?!) her bedroom. She wouldn't do it. This past Saturday she stayed in her room until 2 p.m. and was not allowed to come out until she had made some progress. No dice. I finally had to let her out of the cage because we had a photo session scheduled with our photographer at 4 p.m. Fine, she won that one (again). She spent Sunday morning secluded in there also. Every now and then we'll send big brother Andrew in there to help her out, mostly for motivation. But that scenario just ends in him working, while she enjoys the scenery. Today.. it changed.


Today after awaking, I explained that she had one hour to make an effort on her bedroom. I just needed to see that she was at least trying. If I returned, and it was in the same shape as when I left, her room would be inundated with trash bags. And as you might guess, that's exactly how the story goes. I gave her a warning every 5 minutes, starting a half hour later, letting her know that that test time was almost expired. And an hour later, it was in the same, if not worse shape than when we started.


I stuck to my word this time and pulled a Dr. Phil. I'm not even the biggest fan of Dr. Phil. He's a bit pompous and self absorbed as far as I can tell. Or at least he comes off that way on television each afternoon. But his philosophy goes something like this: if you're having trouble with your children start handing out tough love. Take everything out of their room that is not a neccesity and they will have the opportunity to earn it back later. So that's exactly what I did this morning. I still can't believe I had the... guts? to do it. I had been wanting to do it for many days, but couldn't get past the fact that this would most likely create even more mess because I'd have to store a year's worth of stuffed trash bags in some other area of our home.



So off I went, my box Costco-sized box of garbage bags in hand, secretly moping on my way upstairs because I just knew this would be harder on me than it was on her. And wouldn't you know? She happily filled the trash bags with me. With a smile on her face. No crying. No, "Please, Mommy don't!" No, "You're the worst mother, I hate you!" I mean, I would have taken THAT over a chipper Kaitlynn throwing all her toys in the bag! I think she knows me better than I could ever imagine. Still, I stuck to my guns. I couldnt remove her toy box, book shelf, kitchen or vanity because they are just too big and bulky for me to carry downstairs on my own. (Cory is on the East Coast this week) But every stuffed animal, electronic toy, piece of dress up jewelry, Mr. Potato Head is now residing in our garage for Idon'tknowhowlong. Kaitlynn's got about 20 pairs of shoes thanks to her older cousin's hand-me-downs, and I even took those. I left her with a bed, her clothing, one blanket, one pillow and one pair of shoes.



She was also forced to spend the day in her room, doing nothing.. since that's what she does when I ask her to clean up after herself anyway, it really was just more of the same. She came out for each meal and to use the restroom and to floss and brush her chompers before bed. And of course, in true Kaitlynn style, she's still as bubbly and happy as always. I swear it's just to make my blood boil just one degree more.



Next order of business - when and how should she earn her toys back?






Disclaimer - I'm ready for criticism. I can feel that many will think I'm being too harsh on my four year old. But be forewarned that I don't get offended very easily.
AND - Don't forget to enter my first contest and giveaway. Just scroll down to the previous post and enter your guess in the comments section. 48 hours to deadline!



4 comments:

DIY REDS! said...

so, for some reason i thought that my boys were not able to clean the gigantic messes that they made until about a year and a half ago when we got a new toy from the store and i told them they couldn't play with it until the toy room was cleaned. i thought i would have to come back and help, but when i came back in 10 mins it was done. i am not talking about thrown in a box, but put in the correct boxes and shelves. Jeffrey was about 4 and a half and noah was 2. (i don't know how much he helped). now that was the only time they have been motivated and i end up helping them a little to speed it up. what i find helps them when it is overwhelming is to tell them one thing to pick up and i check on them while i am cleaning the rest of the house. like, jeffrey you find all the blocks and noah you find all the cars. i don't mind helping if they are doing it. we have done the bag it all up and it is hard bc they don't care bc they still didn't have to clean it up but i do think it is a message sender. we still use it to threaten and it does help a little bc we followed through. sorry about the novel. good luck we are still figuring it out.

MissBillie said...

I can't believe she filled those trashbags happily...lol...and I don't think you're being too hard at all...my mom gave me back one toy a week, and a bag of toys at the end of the month...as long as I had been good...no lying, helping out around the house, and doing what I was told...but I tell ya....one slip up and those toys were gone again...in about 2 months I had all my stuff back...she just had to prove her point.

Megan said...

wow! I admire your guts!
I have a simular problem with the kids especially samantha, but after my struggles with matthew I found that he started cleaning his room with no help and quickly shortly after he was about 5 1/2 so I am hoping the same is true for Samantha. I to have them clean just one thing up at a time....all the blocks, then all the dressup clothes ect. and that seems to help if I can break up the overwhelming mess a little bit!
I never had all my toys taken away as a kid, but I am intrested to see how she does getting them back!
That is funny that she was happy to pack them away....she is probably just glad she got you to help her! LOL

Tim said...

Oh, if our Moms had blogs while we were growing up... I daresay we'd be reading the same thing that our parents thought/did.

Oh Karma, why must you haunt us so :P.

Good Job, I'd say you are doing the right thing. Don't break down!