Friday, February 24, 2012


Clean up, clean up, everybody, everywhere! 
It’s an adorable idea, huh?  So cheerful! Gotta love the thought of millions of kids around the world stopping when they hear that tune and saying, “Oh, you’d like me to pick that up?  GLADLY!” 
The reality of it, at least in my house, is quite different.  If I wrote it that song would go something like “Clean up, clean up, everybody fucking pick something up RIGHT NOW before I lose it!”
I hate that it gets stuck in my head every time I see a stray sock on a bedroom floor or a random matchbox car hanging out in the hallway. 
If only a magic purple dinosaur would appear and help me out when it came time to make the kids clean up the playroom.  It doesn’t even have to be a nice one like Barney.  It can threaten to eat them for all I care…whatever motivates them.
Am I the only mother whose blood pressure sky rockets at the thought of asking my kids to clean up their toys?  I look at the puzzles, cars, plastic food pieces strewn about the floor and I have to fight the urge to scream. 
Usually when I ask the kids to clean up they just ignore me.  Now, I know there are people out there going “Just make them clean up. You’re the boss.”  Yes, I know, thank you.  I also believe that I am the boss.  The problem is the kids don’t think that’s the case.
When I had just Carter it was easier to manage.  One kid = one mess.  By this logic two kids should equal two messes.  This, however, is not how it works.  When you add another kid the amount of mess multiplies exponentially; it makes absolutely no sense.  I would challenge the world’s most accomplished mathematician to come up with some sort of formula to explain this phenomenon.  Nobel Prize winning material for sure.
It really sucks for me because mess is my weakness…and the enemy knows this.  The absolute worst thing the kids can do is dump out the multiple bins that house all of their cars, blocks, etc.  The noise that makes is unmistakable and makes me want to die.  I would rather get punched in the face than hear this noise.  Extreme, yet true.  Carter sometimes tries to talk me off the ledge:
Me: "Clean up this playroom right now! I'm so sick of the mess you guys make!"
Carter: "Mom, you need to relax."
Me: "I don't need to relax I need to have kids who...wait...did you just tell me I need to relax?"
Carter: "Yeah. Don't you think that's a good idea?"
Hate him. 
There has to be a good way to make your kids pick up their shit.  But I haven’t found it yet.  And believe me, I’ve looked. 
We’ve tried to put them in time out but we all know how ineffective that method is in my house.  All that happens is they go back and forth between time out and the toy room for an hour and still refuse to put anything away.  At the end of the day I forget why they are even in time out because I’m suddenly distracted by the huge mess in the other room and need to go clean it up…my OCD really works to their advantage. 
We’ve tried taking away whatever toys they left out but they have so many that they don’t even notice what’s missing.  And actually, when we finally bring those toys back out it’s like they’re getting new stuff.  So they are basically being rewarded for not having listened to us in the past.  Jesus Christ!
Sometimes I’ll set a timer and make them race it.  This has had some success in the past.  The only reason it works is because they don’t know what happens when the timer goes off.  Carter’s anxiety makes him fear the unknown.  My lack of a conscience makes me use that against him.
“What happens when the timer goes off?”
“I don’t know.  I don’t think it’s good though.”
“Does something explode?”
This will only work as long as I get to the timer before it beeps.  Once it beeps and nothing explodes they are totally going to call my bluff.  Things to do: Google a list of explosives that I can safely use indoors…
Since I’m totally on an “I’m going to learn how to parent better” kick, I’ve looked into a few new ideas on how to get kids to get with the program. 
I read that you should take them out of the situation and ask them to do something you know they will/can do. You praise them for doing whatever it is, thus putting them in a more cooperative mood, and then take them back to the mess. 
I liked this idea so I shared it with my husband.  I was so excited the day that I came home and he told me he had used this new technique!
Mike: “Yeah, they weren’t picking up.  So I said ‘Hey kids!  Why don’t we go eat some cucumber finger sandwiches’, cause I knew they would do that. So they did.  And then we cleaned up!”
Me: “That’s great!  Wait. What?  Cucumber finger sandwiches?  Did you really?”
Mike: “No.  I’m totally mocking you.  That didn’t happen.”
I hate him too.  I give up. 

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