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The Consequences of Being Messy

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Recession Mama Michele Ashamalla: Last week, I found myself at the end of my rope. It seemed that everywhere I turned, there was another pile of stuff for me to deal with!

messy room
My kids are usually pretty good about cleaning up after themselves, but the beginning of the school year is an adjustment for them. The constant stream of paperwork from school, the piles of laundry from games and practices, the counters, tables and floors littered with books, games and the project of the moment ("Let's dress up!"; "Why don't we have a lemonade stand?"; "I bet I can make twenty different kinds of paper airplanes!") ....

I went into my daughter's room to attempt to locate a matching sock, and when she opened her drawer, it exploded -- and so did I. The problem was that I couldn't come up with too many natural consequences of her being messy, other than the fact that it made a lot of extra work for me

I knew she liked to have friends over and liked the house to look nice for them. I knew she didn't like to wear clothes that were dirty or super wrinkled. I knew she liked to be able to locate her things pretty quickly. I talked about all those things, but I wasn't sure it was really getting through. 

When she came home from school the very next day, she told me that she'd had a container of toy slime in her backpack (which I had told her to take out a week prior). She had set her backpack down hard, the container had cracked and the inside of her backpack had been coated with the stuff. She'd spent a good hour taking everything out of her backpack, cleaning off pens, pencils, rulers, etc. and wiping down notebooks. Then she'd had to wash the backpack and reload it for school. 

I tried to keep the "I told you so" to a minimum and thanked her for taking care of the situation. Over the weekend, she willingly spent a few hours in her room, organizing. I don't know if she's a changed kid, but at least for now, she thinks I may be on to something ....

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1 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous October 19, 2010, 4:34 AM

You need to be stricter with them. My mum and dad always had a rule about putting toys away when they were done with. School stuff went in my room - my bag was only allowed to be on the floor in the hallway for the time it took me to get my shoes off. My brother, sister, and I also did the washing up every night. We washed, dried, and put away everything. Sorry, but these are the kinds of things you need to do. Make clear rules, enforce them, and explain to your children when they complain that, if they don’t want to follow the rules, they’re perfectly welcome to go and get jobs in order to pay you for their food and board. I don’t have children yet, but trust me, my sister’s little ones aren’t even five yet and they’re being given some of these expectations - putting things away - already. It has to be done.

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