HELP!!! Any advice for chores/listening?

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-07-2006
HELP!!! Any advice for chores/listening?
8
Sat, 12-09-2006 - 12:32pm
Does anyone have any advice?? I have a 7 yo, a 4 1/2 yo, and a 2 1/2 yo. The only way to get them to listen is yelling (which I hate doing!) I ask them to do something and they either don't do it at all or they do part, then stop. Example: keeping their rooms picked up. I spend 2 - 3 hours in my 7 yo's room organizing and cleaning, then 3 days later, its DESTROYED again. I mean you can't even see the floor!! I thought only teenagers were like that!! My 4 yo is the same way. I understand that sometimes you have to tell kids 2 - 3 times to do something, but everytime? I get so frustrated that I can't keep a clean house to save my life!! Just this morning I put away a toy in my son's room and NOT EVEN 5 minutes later, I found that same toy on the floor in the hallway. I have tried reward charts, punishing, or making my 7 yo stay in her room until its clean. All I get is whining and crying like she's Cinderella or something!! I am at the end of my rope!!
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-20-2006
Sat, 12-09-2006 - 5:39pm

I have 3 dd's ages 10, 6, and 4.

What you are describing for your children's ages is actually quite normal. At this age they can't comprehend "Go pick up your room", rather you have to be specific. You have to say things like "Put your dress up clothes in the bin", or "Go put your shoes in the closet".

Maybe your son just really likes that toy. Clean houses are all fine and good, but if you are constantly yelling, and upset over the house being clean you need to remember that you have small children, and thier rooms aren't going to stay neat and tidy all the time. If my choices are a happy household and tidy rooms, I'll take a happy household.

Here's a great link for age appropriate expectations.
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6980924/page/2/

"The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." ~Albert Einstein
iVillage Member
Registered: 08-31-2004
Sun, 12-10-2006 - 1:57pm

Well, I expect my five and seven year olds to keep their rooms clean. :D Of course, I make allowances for my five year old and I don't expect perfection, but I know that they are perfectly capable of putting things away where they go.

As moms when we reach our frustration-saturation level we always encounter the risk of yelling. That is why I think it is so important for us to really think about the issues our children throw at us that we KNOW will send us over the edge and devise a plan for dealing with it. I find that if I know and accept that a certain behavior is going to happen and I have a plan for exactly how I will react to that behavior, then I have a much better shot of maintaining my cool and parenting my children in the way that I WANT to parent them; ie: no yelling. One of the worst frustration-inducing issues I had with my children was toy pick-up, so I totally hear what you are saying.

So here is my 'plan' for toy pick-up. I have two identical large baskets, purchased very reasonably at Target. One is upstairs and one is downstairs. These are our 'Saturday Baskets.' My kids know that I expect all toys to be picked up and put away before bedtime. I will give them a reminder to pick up toys before dinner. And throughout the day, I will suggest to them that they pick up so that they don't have so much work to do later. But I only tell them to do it one time - no nagging. Then they eat their dinner and go to bed as per usual. After they are in bed, I go around and any toys that are left out get put in the Saturday basket. I also put toys in there that have been put away so carelessly as to still be a visible 'mess.' Don't get me wrong - I don't require perfection, but a little bit of order IS enforced. Any toy that goes into the Saturday basket has to stay there until Saturday morning. On Saturday morning, before my kids do anything, they have to put away all toys in the Saturday basket. So if they did not put away the toys in the basket and they had a birthday party to go to, then they couldn't go until the toys were properly put away.

This method works so well on so many different levels for our family. For me, personally, it has absolutely eliminated my frustration with toys being left out. There is no nagging, there is no anger on my part. I know that either the kids will put them away or I can quickly throw them into the basket and not see them again for a few days. If there is any issue at all between the kids and I about putting those toys away, it happens on Saturday morning, when I am rested, not rushed to do anything and I am calm enough to parent my children in the way that I would want to do so.

My son, who is seven nearly never has toys in the Saturday basket. He is very meticulous about his toys and I have to say that his room is usually the neatest room in the house. He was not always this way at all. His room used to be such a mess that I could hardly go in. To this day, I am not sure what made him change. Last summer, I was reorganizing my daughter's room and I had emptied every toy bin out in the middle of the floor so we could re-sort out the toys. My son asked me if we could do HIS room too. I said, sure, thinking that we had time to do both rooms in one day. Well, my daughter's room took so much longer than I thought that it was bedtime when we finished. Just then my son came in and says, eyes shining, 'look what I did, Mom!' I looked in his room and just about fainted. Every toy he owned was in a big pile in the middle of the floor. You could not even walk in there! And it was almost nine o'clock at night! But he was so proud of himself, so I just said, "Okay great! We'll just finish up tomorrow!"

But the next day was a busy day and we only got a little done. So it was for the next day and the next and I think it was about a week before his toys were finally all organzied and put away. What a nightmare! But ever since then, Derek has been very careful to keep his room clean (and that was last summer!). He thinks about where every toy should go, and has them organized neatly in baskets according to type. It blows me away! I don't know if it was the terrible mess he had to live in for a week, or the fact that I couldn't help him with it as much as I normally would have and he did most of it himself or what. But cleaning up is no longer a problem for Derek.

With my daughter, we are still working on it. She is inclined to stuff things where they don't belong so she can finish up faster. But that's okay. All that stuff goes in to the Saturday basket and she puts them away on Saturday mornings, so it works out fine in the end. And she is only five years old so like I said, I don't expect perfection.

Anyhow I just wanted to share, because I so hear your pain and this method has worked just great for all of us.

Take care,

Susan

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iVillage Member
Registered: 11-01-2006
Tue, 12-12-2006 - 1:29pm


Yeah getting them to keep their room together is awful.

One thing we do is have a toy closet. We put extra toys and games away and they can trade in toys that they have out for something else in the closet. This rotates the toys and keeps them interested in them. And in order to earn the privledge to trade a toy they need to do a chores when asked or do other things to earn good behavior points. This seems to be helping with our kids (6 and 4)

Conseqences for your actions seems to keep my son on the right path. If you do not listen you do not get computer time, tv time or whatever it is he wanted to do. I try to keep food out of our reward structure. It is simple, but sometimes we get into the "but daddy said" Then my husband and I have to work it out.

good luck,

-eleanor

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iVillage Member
Registered: 04-11-2003
Tue, 12-12-2006 - 4:36pm

Wow, I LOVE the idea of the Saturday Basket! Not much reminding.. consequences.. I'm sooo going to try it.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 09-29-2006
Wed, 12-13-2006 - 3:41pm

I hear you!!!
We struggle with keeping a clean house, too. Then a mom over on the Tons of Kids board (mamamartie- wise woman that she is!) said with a large family, you have to expect an amount of disaster. Now, I know that does not mean a room that you can't even see the floor, though, so I know what you are saying.

One thing I am doing as we struggle with this as well came from a show for adults to tidy up their spaces. The guy said "usually when a room or area is messy it is a result of poor planning- you plan the space for A, but really use it for B, then don't accomodate for that" He said storage needs to fit the need.

So, on that level- my girls (ages 6 and 4) share a room- they have a shelf in their room that never ever holds thier toys, instead the toys are on the floor. I went in and looked at it- why don't the toys get into the shelf? Cause the shelf is not for toys!!! They have things like Barbie's and even I have a hard time making the Barbie's stay in there nice. So, we are buying one of those toy shelves with the bins that sit in it for them as part of their bedroom makeover from Santa. (see my post on the So, what are you getting for your 6/7 yr old thread).

Maybe this is your problem, too? Do the storage spaces you have set up fit the needs of the toys? Do you have shelves like me? Maybe you need bins? Are the bins big for big toys, small for small toys? Etc.

As for finding things outside the bedrooms, I just keep a small basket in the livingroom and if I find a toy in the livingroom, I throw it in the basket. The kids go to their rooms after dinner for quiet reading/play time and are responsible for grabbing their toys on the way in the rooms- if they don't, I keep the toys in the top of the linen closest for a week. That only took a few times before they started checking the basket right after dinner!

Trishia
mom of 4, waiting for #5 in May 2007

trishia
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Mon, 12-18-2006 - 11:20pm

Hi, mom! I have a few ways that I determine how we are doing with toys in the house. If it takes me, as an adult, longer than a few minutes to clean up a room, I know that we just have too much in that room.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 01-06-2007
Fri, 01-12-2007 - 6:15pm

I LOVE THE IDEA OF THE SATURDAY BASKET!! I THINK I WILL TRY IT, ALSO ALL THE ORGANIZERS AT IKEA THAT YOU PUT UP WERE GREAT! I FIND THAT ORGANIZING IS A GREAT WAY FOR CHILDREN TO PICK UP THERE STUFF AND IT TEACHES THEM SOMETHING ABOUT ORGANIZATION!
MY 7 YEAR OLD IS PRETTY GOOD ABOUT PICKING UP HIS ROOM, BUT I DO HAVE TO REMIND HIM SEVERAL TIMES (WHICH I DONT LIKE), BUT AS ANOTHER MOM SUGGESTED BE SPECIFIC. SAY "_______, PICK UP YOUR CARS AND PUT THEM IN YOUR CAR TUB", OR "PICK UP YOUR DIRTY CLOTHES". THAT DEFINATELY HELPS WITH MY SON. ALSO IF HE IS TO HAVE A FRIEND COME OVER HIS ROOM HAS TO BE CLEAN FIRST AND IF HE WANTS TO WATCH SOMETHING OR PLAY A GAME HIS ROOM HAS TO BE CLEAN FIRST!!
WITH THIS AGE I THINK REWARD SYSTEMS WORK REALLY WELL! WE USE A TICKET SYSTEM, WHERE AUSTEN HAS GOALS FOR THE ENTIRE WEEK AND IF HE ACCOMPLISHES THEM HE GETS SO MANY TICKETS. KEEPING HIS ROOM CLEAN IS ONE. AT THE END OF A WEEK, OR TWO WEEK PERIOD HE CAN THEN TRADE HIS TICKETS IN FOR HIS ALLOWANCE! IT WORKS PRETTY GOOD!!

HOPE THESE IDEAS, HELP! BUT KNOW YOU ARE NOT ALONE, I DONT LIKE YELLING AT MY KIDS BUT SOMETIMES IT SEEMS THAT IS THE ONLY TIME THEY LISTEN!!!!

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Tue, 01-16-2007 - 12:42am

This works because THEY are the ones responsible. You stated what YOU would do (keep any toys leftout)and they knew what THEY could do (get them picked up before you).

It is so easy to get into yelling-I do it too. But when you are yelling, no one is really listening. You have to go opposite and not yell. Calmly say what's going to happen next: You kids need to "put your toys in their bins before you _______ ". Then sit back and wait. Hopefully it is something good with a time frame like a TV show or library time or something. Then when they realize "hey, isn't my show over? or weren't we going to the library?" you can say "Yes, I'm sorry, the toys weren't put away and now the show is over. Maybe next time." For a time my kids liked to watch TV before bed, but it took FOR-EV-ER for them to get ready for bed. So I'd say "as soon as you are ready for bed, you may watch TV. Bedtime is at 8". Of course it would take them until 7:55 to get ready and I'd say "Oh well you chose to do ___ instead. Maybe tomorrow night. Right now it is time for tucking in" I tried not to say "Fooling around" I'd say "making faces in the mirror, or acting like a monkey", whatever they were actually doing. It didn't hurt my feelings that they weren't watching TV and I didn't have to stress about reminding them a hundred times that they were going to miss their show if they didn't hurry up. It just happened naturally. It wasn't MY fault. Supposedly this works with all ages. We'll see!