Saturday, December 12, 2009

IS it beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

My home is decorated with a tree, garland running up my stairs, lights twinkling and singing that something special is about to happen. I'm madly cleaning and washing all our clothes and bed sheets in anticipation of our big trip to visit family and be able to return to a clean home. It's beginning to look and feel like Christmas. Or is it?

It doesn't seem like my children notice. Lately they have been constantly fighting, hitting, screaming, and yelling at each other. They have been talking back and being sassy. They are unable and unwilling to clean their room when asked...and bribed. Just tonight I continually asked them to clean their room. And gently reminded them each time I passed their door while I was doing laundry. And with each passing I noticed the mess grew and grew. More toys covered the floor, bed, and dresser. However, I did not scold them for the mess because it stayed within their room and they were playing together without bothering me much.

It became apparent to me that they believed they were in charge of the situation. The rule goes that if Mom has to pick it up then it goes in the "garbage." Which is really the garage. So when I reminded them that I can clean the room up super quick and throw their toys away, they passively said "It's too much." Then they lounged on their bed. They were done. They had no intention of cleaning. It seemed as if they were waiting for me to clean it all up.

So I did.

I shoved everything in to their bins. Scooped things off the floor and actually tossed them in the garbage. I gathered up ALL their toys, dolls, bears, games, and writing utensils. Not just the things on the floor, but EVERYTHING. They cried forced tears and didn't seem to care much. Blake even said to Reese, "Don't worry, if we're good then we'll get our toys back."

It hit me that when they whined about it being "too much" to clean, I realized that they have "too much" toys. All their toys were sitting next to the door waiting to leave the house. My garland's lights were twinkling behind them. Wrapping paper and gifts sat on the couch. It looked like we were moving, not celebrating Christmas or anticipating the arrival of Santa Clause. It feels like they are on the naughty list for sure. They don't appreciate or take care of their toys so why get any more.

I hid their toys in my closet for tonight. I don't want them waking up to see their toys still in the living room. It's pouring rain outside, and I just don't have the energy to make 5 trips down the stairs to the garage. And I'd like to hide them somewhere in the garage where they can't ever see them so they take me seriously.

I even purged their clothes. Putting their summer clothes to the side and getting rid of things they don't wear! Their room is very clean and their only entertainment are the books on the shelves.

So. Do I eventually give them back their toys or not? It'd be a shame to not have toys to play with as a child. Do I reward them with their own toys when they show me responsible and caring attitudes? Or do I just get them to the garage and we don't see them again? I need some suggestions and lots of advice. How do I get my kids to appreciate their things? Oh and another big question: Are they old enough to understand that if Santa doesn't come it's because they didn't clean their room? Do they even get that? Or will they go through life feeling entitled to anything they want.


Suzanne said...

Tough questions, you ask. I can't wait to see what advice you get. I haven't had trouble, yet, with the kids not cleaning up. But I do remember when I was teaching them about cleaning up Joel saying, "I don't care if you take my toys cause Santa will just bring me more."
I think taking the toys away is sticking to your guns in a good way. When they push my buttons and I make threats, I have to stick to them or I lose all my credibility. I don't want to have to go through all the tears and pain again with bigger problems later simply because I caved and didn't finish teaching them this lesson when it was small.
As for Santa, I've heard of a kid getting coal, not how he turned out or anything. But I'm just not ready to take that one away. You're only going to have a couple of more years when Blake will even believe in Santa. I'm making memories for the boys that when they are grown up with their own kids they will look back on and model. I don't want to spoil those memories, if I can help it.
But it doesn't hurt to keep the toys in the garage. If there's anything in there that is essential to you or them, though, look for an opportunity when they do something super great and let them pick one to have back.

The Risdons said...

Been there for sure. I really throw their stuff away. They're not taking you seriously because they know you'll just put it in the garage. Have them help you take their stuff to the dumpster. My kids can't watch TV unless their room is clean. That's pretty good incentive for them. Then go pick up Love and Logic: the early childhood years. That book is my parenting bible. Good luck.


Man, I don't look forward to this but I do agree that empty threats are no mom ALWAYS gave us empty threats and we knew it (and still do). You are so tough! I am so impressed you do it without Dan there all the time. Enjoy your Christmas and vacation!! Y'all are going to PA right?

Sarah said...

im drawing a blank...... ive tried throwing them away... taking away the tv. putting them in time out in their rooms. seperating them on different levels of the house as punishment for not getting along and not cleaning. Nothing works with my brats!! nothing! i think its always a hit and miss... you do what works for your family. Maybe if you did get rid of "some" of the toys. Not all of them! but you made them take them to the thrift store and give them away. they would see your serious. and lets face it.. kids now a days have way too many toys. They will be just fine without one or two toys. at least they would see your seriously going to give them away and also to someone else who cant afford to buy new expensive toys.

Bowman's Beach said...

I am definately not qualified to comment, but here goes... My mom would do that to us growing up. if our room was messy and she told us to clean it, and we didn't, she would put everything in a black trash bag and it was gone. I haven't gone through life thinking my mom was so mean and took away my toys. I think, I lost a lot of crap because I wouldn't clean up my room! She would also have seasonal toys. She purged our rooms one summer because she too felt like we had too many toys that were just laying around the house. so she seperated them and we would get our toys in sections. when she would put away the summer toys and bring out the next bag it was like "christmas" because we hadn't seen the toys for so long. We lived with minimal toys and turned out (realitively) fine! :) good luck! P.S. my room was ALWAYS messy so it may just never end and then you'll be glad you have less toys ;)

Mrs. Anderson said...

Shay I have nothing to offer but I thank you for opening this up for discussion. People have made some great comments!! I know that for me, I am always SO blown away at how clean Marci's house is. I mean seriously clean. And she does talk about how she teaches Jordan that he needs to respect his things. So, I'd say ask her how she does it because if you look at my house, we obviously don't get it yet!

KickButtMommy said...

Wait, didn't you have a baby a minute ago? HOW do you do it all?

Lisa said...

I so could have written your post.
I get attached to toys, I feel obligated to love and honor them as long as we both shall live...
I think it is because I put so much effort into picking them, or remember that my sweet grandma picked them out as a gift, etc. So I don't want to waste them.
However, I have realized that this sort of hoarding doesn't teach them anything.
I have a sister in law who would go through her kids toys every few months and force herself to get rid of half of them, and one year before Christmas she literally sent everything to the DI except three little people sets.
I always envied her.
I don't know what you should do. I have so been there and can never decide either.

Briana said...

Sometimes we say things with emotion, instead of thinking clearly through it cuz we are plain mad. We need to give ourselves a time out and clear our minds before we storm into our kids rooms. Then, when you say something, you will be able to follow through with it. If you don't want to throw the toys away, don't say you are going to. My son is only 4 and if I get the vacuum out, he still thinks I will vacuum up his toys, so he runs around the room and pics everything up. When I was young my mom had to hold my head in her hands and lock eyes with me before I would focus enough to actually hear what she was asking me to do. You are so smart, you will figure out what works with your kids.

Nickell said...

I'm not very experienced in this either. But I think it might make more of an impact on them if you make them sell them to other kids. Have a garage sale. Then they might realize how grateful they should be when they see other kids enjoying the toys they loved.... or maybe that would just be too traumatizing, but with the trash I just think it might be an out of site out of mind thing, once they don't see them, they don't care.... Maybe I'm not even making sense.