Monday, March 30, 2009

Parental Moral Dilemma

So I have been battling my son for about 2 weeks now on getting his room cleaned up. Now, he is 4 and he is not fully aware of the concept of keeping his room clean. I have tried about a million different ways to get him to at least start cleaning his room on his own, with little success.

Last night was my breaking point. We got home and I was working on laundry and he was supposed to be cleaning his room. When I went in, not only was nothing even touched he had decided to sprinkle buttery popcorn ALL OVER his room and the hallway. He was, however, very focused on cleaning up that mess but not the mess of his room.

This morning when I woke him up to get ready to go, and I am still wondering how he slept at all, he was curled up in a ball on the smallest littlest clean spot on his bed. The rest of his bed was COVERED in cars, books, and any other kind of imaginable toy ever made.

Let me give you a little bit of background into my child’s bedtime behavior. Since we moved into this house 2 years ago, Austin goes to bed at eight, only he doesn’t go to bed. HE PLAYS. And plays, and plays. Sometimes he plays for as long as 2 hours after his actual bedtime. 2 HOURS! Well you can only imagine all the toys a 4 year old can drag out in 2 hours. I usually walk into a room that looks like a cyclone hit it the night before.

Well over time this mess grows and grows and grows. Now, typically I would have him clean it each night before bed, but given that I have class three nights a week (only 7 more weeks) and he gets to bed later on those nights than I would like, it’s hard to make him clean this all up at 10 in the evening.

So back to today…

I knew there was a possibility of my mom coming over today to let the plumber in to fix Austin’s toilet and rework mine as well, but since she never really mentioned whether it was confirmed or not, I simply de-cluttered some last night and made sure things were somewhat tidy just in case…

Well, I should know better. Not only did my mom come over, she cleaned up my bathroom, the laundry room, the front closet, vacuumed, and yes, cleaned Austin’s room till it was close to spotless! Here is where my dilemma comes in. What did Austin learn from this sweet gesture from my mom?

“Hey, let it get messy enough and Mimi will come over and clean it!”

Well I will say mom gave Austin an earful about keeping his room clean, which I hope he gets, but we will see.

In the meantime, my friend, Stephanne, from work had a BRILLIANT suggestion! Now when you hear this, you are going to think she is a mother (which she isn’t…yet) or that she is a teacher (nope, not that either). Her suggestion was to have Austin pick 5 toys and put them in a bucket. These 5 toys are the ONLY ones he can play with before bed. If he gets any other toys out, he has consequences. These for him are that I take away one toy for the night. If it happens again, I take another one. For each night he follows the Rule of 5 (Like that? Just thought of it!) he will get a toy back. If he has 5 toys, he can keep all 5. He can exchange out his toys before bed but once I tuck him in, those are his five toys.


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