Since my parenting triumphs have a short shelf life, it’s worth sharing this. Maybe someone else can try it. (I know better than to count on it working twice.)
Selam’s room was bad, really bad. The air conditioner in there is broken, so I spend as little time in there as possible. She prefers to be near me or the TV (:-() so she isn’t in there much either. Consequently, the room was dusty and cat furred beyond belief and strewn end to end with discards. Discarded toys, books and clothes were also throughout the apartment. She wants to have a playdate on Friday. My parents are coming in two weeks. It was time.
I set a timer and gave her a basket. Her job was to find everything in the apartment that was hers but not in her room. It took three baskets. It was bad. She enjoyed the process, though, because it was a sort of race. When she said she was done, I put her to work crawling under her bed and pulling out random stuff that had fallen there. Meanwhile, I was tidying things up in the
sweatlodge bedroom. Then the bell rang and we had a snack break for five minutes. Then I made her help me sort through her costume trunk. There are too many costumes in there for the trunk to close properly and it’s no longer her favorite thing to play with. It didn’t take long, and she let me throw out or donate quite a few things–not as many as I’d have done on my own, but a good start. Then I did a bit more major tidying while she put on a costume which included a mask and a cape.
Then we were ready for part two–the put away. I dumped the baskets on the floor and started categorizing things and Selam ran to put them away as fast as possible. I told her if we finished by the time the timer chimed, we’d go out to eat for dinner. It worked really well, she was laughing and smiling the whole time, and I felt good about her reinforcing where things really go. Surprisingly, it took just 20 minutes.
Then I told her she was done and I planned on dusting and vacuuming myself, but she wanted to help. She was actually a little disappointed to be done, so I told her that if she cleaned out the junk in the couch cushions she could keep all the change she found. We did that together, and again it took just a handful of minutes.
It’s not the way I would clean. I would put something away and then see something in that area that needed tidying and get involved with that. This was remarkably fast. She liked running to places and has absolutely NO CHANCE of getting distracted by a mess.
now if we can just keep it picked up….;-)