Monday, May 14, 2007

Thoughts on clean-up and good parenting

Monday, May 14, 2007

Thoughts on clean-up and good parenting
Current mood: depressed

You know, parenting books and common sense tell us that we need to teach our children from an early age that they must pick up after themselves. It's a vital skill for them to learn, and one that will (in theory) go great lengths to salvage Mom and Dad's sanity. Teaching our children how to tidy up their own messes promotes responsibility and independence, builds a sense of self worth and gives children a way to contribute in a positive way. On top of all that, it helps keep the house tidy and leaves less work for Mom and Dad! What's not to like??

So far this morning:
- It took a concerted effort from Billy to get Littleman to put his wet diaper and dirty clothes in the proper receptacles, and to get dressed without leaving clothes strewn all over his room. Never mind getting both boys to put away all the assorted toys and magazines they pulled out while Billy and I were still hiding in bed- there's barely time to get the boys pottied or diapered, and dressed at the rate they move. Chalk one big mess up to the toddlers.
- The boys made their usual disaster at the breakfast table. They sort of assist in putting away cereal boxes and sometimes dirty dishes to the sink. . . but that alone takes so much instruction and repetition that often we just go ahead and do it ourselves. Never mind getting them to sweep or clean off the table!! Chalk another big mess up to the toddlers.
- The boys dumped a ton of matchbox/hotwheels cars everywhere. Billy persevered and helped them put those back in their box. Chalk one up to responsibility and cleanliness.
- Littleman dumped out the megablocks and enjoyed playing with those for awhile. Afterwards he went upstairs, but I warned him that he'd have to clean them up when he came back down. It ended up taking about 2 hours to get those picked up- it finally came down to me giving him 5 minutes to finish picking the blocks up, and letting him know that when time was up he'd have a spanking if there were still blocks out. We went through 2 spankings and nearly 15 minutes but that worked finally. Chalk one up to responsibility? Or just intimidation?
- After that debacle Littleman entertained himself pulling books off the shelf and looking through them. I showed him a few things of interest in passing. That was nice. When he seemed to lose interest, I told him to put them away. That turned into a 30 minute ordeal, (same drill as the blocks) and involved one spanking. Chalk another up to responsibility (or just intimidation).
- I'm not mentioning minor messes that I just repaired myself as I've gone along today, nor the messes that have appeared without my noticing who generated them. Right now Candyland is scattered all over the living room floor, along with assorted play kitchen accessories, a few alphabet magnets, shoes, socks, a paper bag and some cars that have strayed back onto the floor again. Chalk another up to the toddlers. (Never mind the dog hair).

So, let's see- after nearly 5 hours, 3 spankings (which I'd prefer not to use), immeasurable frustration, time lost at my other tasks and (I'm sure) elevated blood pressure in Mommy, we're barely even. I have to ask: Is it really worth it to go to all this trouble? Am I actually teaching my children to be responsible for their own messes, or am I discouraging creative play and exploration? Am I helping things or harming them? I feel like the only time I get to pay attention to them, it's to enforce clean-up. (Or feed, diaper, bathe or groom them- though we do get to read books every night at least). And if I'm helping things, how long do I keep this up before they start to show a little initiative in cleaning up??

It's lunchtime. I'm tired. And Mr. Sweetcheeks just dumped out all the blocks.

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