Tuesday, January 26, 2010

merry maids

i really struggle with knowing how much responsibility to give a 3 year old. kennedy and blakely are 2 messy little girls. i don't know if this is normal for a toddler, or if we have 2 future slobs on our hands. regardless, i'm OCD about order in our house and i hate it. brett is too, so k and b have been good for teaching us to somewhat relax over what our home looks like. i have to make a concerted effort to not run around after them all day long, picking up every mess they make and driving both them and myself crazy. i've been bad about cleaning up every mess they make because it's much more efficient than teaching them what to do, dealing with them whining over not wanting to do it, and waiting patiently for them to finish the job. if i've learned anything from having kids, it's that love and parenting are not efficient. whether it's being patient with them only when i feel like it, or doing things for them instead of teaching them how to do it themselves, i find myself wanting to live life efficiently rather than effectively molding and teaching. parenting is not efficient, and it's not always convenient, but it's been really good for me to learn what it looks like to lay down my own desires for the good of my kids. i wish it came naturally to me to be selfless, but it's not my forte, and something i must rely on the holy spirit's work in me for.

anyway, since k and b's messes keep getting bigger and bigger, and i feel like they have no respect for our home or their stuff, brett and i have decided that it's time to give them more responsibility. i'm working on a chore chart (if anyone has one they use, please send it my way!) and trying to decide how much they can handle. we started yesterday with making them clean their room. we have attempted this before, but yesterday it was the biggest mess you've ever seen. i should have taken a picture of it, but didn't. since they share a room that's not very big, all we can fit in there are their beds, so we put their dresser in the closet. about a year ago we moved all of the clothes from their dresser into our closet downstairs because they kept getting in their drawers and having fashion shows and wrecking their room with clothes. this has worked so far, but yesterday they figured out how to get to the clothes that were hanging in their closet. they were in their room playing and kennedy was whining. i thought they were just fighting over something, so i ignored her for awhile. when i finally went up there to see what was going on, she was standing in the top drawer of her dresser and was stuck. they had pulled out each drawer to make stairs and had climbed up to their clothes and pulled every one of them down. i guess she was getting them down and handing them to blakely to model all of them. while i wanted to yell at them and hang all of them up, i decided i needed to just teach them how to put the clothes on hangers and make them do it. they're lazy and hate to clean. every time i tell them they have to clean something they say they're tired or cold, so of course they started in with excuses. i taught them what they needed to do to clean their room, dividing the clothes into one pile to put on hangers, and their toys into another to put into their toy box. i also told them that they couldn't come out of their room until the job was done. i'm sure it sounds mean, but i watched them to make sure they could put the clothes on hangers, so i knew they were capable. this was at 2 o'clock. when brett got home at 6, guess who was still in their room? we both went up there and talked to them, and brett reinforced my message that they weren't coming out of their room until it was done, even to eat dinner. the problem with 2 is they can't stop playing long enough to get anything done. by this time, it was principal, and i knew if i let up then, they would "win". food can get them to do pretty much anything, so they got more serious about their job. at 7, they came out of their room with "mommy, come look!". they were so proud. and here's what i walked up the stairs to:

they had taken every single thing out of their room except their beds and put it in the hall. 5 hours later and the room was spotless. i had to laugh, but teach them too the lesson i've learned on efficiency. they way they did it was certainly efficient, but not very effective! we finally got it cleaned up together, but hopefully they learned that it's not very fun to clean up things they've destroyed. we'll see if it makes them less messy, but i'm not holding my breath until i see a change.

oh, and if you're wondering about the shirt on blakely's head in the picture above, that's her new thing. she wears a shirt on her head at all times now (i make her take it off to go somewhere of course, but as soon as we get home she puts it back on). k and b are at an age where they're realizing that all the other little girls have long hair and they want it too. this has been blakely's version of extensions. she thinks since the sleeves hang down her shoulders and the rest of the shirt hangs down her back that she has ingeniously found a way to have long hair. seriously, she's wearing it now too. she sleeps in the thing.

happy tuesday!


  1. Oh Nicole, I am so glad to read this this morning. Your perspective is refreshing and your patience is admirable. I have so much to learn from you! Your story made me laugh even though I know if I were you I would be a little perturbed....okay, more than a little. Your family is precious.

  2. Nicole, this story is just precious! thx so much for sharing your joys and struggles in motherhood -- when we finally have kids this age, I want to come back and re-read all of your posts, so I know I'm not the only mom who goes through this stuff :) love you!

  3. HILARIOUS! (since i'm reading about it and not living it.. haha). Check out this page. I love everything babywise, but really, Val (the writer) does have some great tips on teaching kids responsibility through chores.

  4. I can't stop laughing at the shirt!!! Hayden is
    learning how to clean too and we are having the exact same results! She is so proud that her room is clean and thinks the hallway is my problem.

  5. Thanks so much for sharing this! The whole patience with teaching them to do chores rather than cleaning up after them thing is one of the things I think I will struggle with the most as a parent. I see myself doing it all the time right now in my job as a special ed teacher (tying kids shoes for them when they know how to tie, carrying their materials, even speaking for them for crying out loud!)It was refreshing (and a little bit relieving) to hear about your real struggle with this issue. I love reading your blog and think your girls are precious!

  6. Creative girls! I was laughing so hard that Jason asked me what was wrong! :) I just love reading about what they're doing and all the adventures you have.

  7. Wow. I think my mouth hung up the last half of that. FIRST, way to go, Nicole!!! I'm soooo proud of you for not giving in and having them clean it up- or think they had. I'm sure with routine, they may get the hang of it.
    And I love the extensions- smart idea. =)

  8. Nicole - that is HILARIOUS!! However, I wouldn't be mad a bit if Drew were willing to play alone for 4 hours.....??? He won't play alone for more than 5 minutes. But, I KNOW what you mean about the cleaning...GEEZ - Drew's idea of cleaning is throwing everything in a pile! It does take some patience...that I don't have most days!! Thanks for keeping it real!! Love reading your blog!!