I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but I really like mango. And coffee.
You’re probably thinking, “What in the world does a mango and cup of coffee have to do with getting my kids to clean their rooms?” Well, probably not a lot, but just go with it for a second.
I’d say that most of us when faced with a big task, assignment, our busy day, busy week, etc. are often overwhelmed by the enormity and stress of it. Sometimes, we’re even so overwhelmed by it that we don’t even touch it for as long as possible. We put it off and put it off, hoping that with time it will just go away or get easier.
Usually, this isn’t the case.
Many times, as adults, we will break up our tasks into smaller, more manageable tasks. We feel a sense of accomplishment when we complete this sub-tasks, and, before we know it, the big task is completed. I’ve read a number of business and time management articles that have pointed in this direction — Break up the big tasks! If you’re not already doing this for yourself, you should.
Back to the mango and coffee…
We also like to feel like we’re working for something. If we know there is a promotion on the horizon, we’re saving for a vacation, exercising to lose weight… whatever it may be. If we know there is a reward for our efforts, we are more likely to work harder for it.
I am one of those unfortunate people without a washer and dryer. I have three choices:
1. Save for a washer & dryer.
2. Go to the laundromat.
3. Wash laundry in my bathtub.
A couple of those could actually be combined, but the way I see it is, I could spend $20-30 a week at the laundromat, OR I could save that money for other things (even save for a W/D) while I wash my laundry in the tub. If you haven’t done this before, it is incredibly strenuous work, especially when you’re dealing with heavy, wet bath towels.
I have been doing my laundry this way for about a year now. I’m washing towels today and decided that between the washing and the squeezing out & hanging step, I would reward myself with a mango and cup of coffee. It made the washing part just a bit easier to get through. By the way, that’s my LEAST favorite part of washing laundry in the tub.
Now, what does this have to do with a kid’s room?
Well, just like a big task seems overwhelming to you when you look at it as a whole, a messy room to clean seems overwhelming to a child when it’s viewed as a whole.
My daughter, especially, tends to get very overwhelmed. She is gifted with ADHD and the thought of cleaning her mess sends her into fits and tears, but I came up with something that has worked so far.
First, the before…
Pretty scary, right? I tripped a few times just trying to get through her room to take a “good” photo.
So here’s what I did…
If you look closely, you can see two pink strings draped across everything. I took two long pieces of yarn and divided her room into four quadrants. I didn’t give her a time limit, but told her that when she gets one corner clean she can play games on my phone for 15 minutes. And by “clean”, I don’t mean moving stuff from one corner to another. It has to be put away.
I tell her when she gets two corners cleaned, she can have a 15 minute break and a snack. Three corners is her choice of what to do for 20 minutes. When she gets all four corners cleaned, she can watch a movie.
The rewards are up to you, but letting your child know there will be a reward and what the reward is will help motivate her to clean those corners. Visually breaking the room up into four parts with string helps them to break up the big task and make it seem a bit more doable.
It took my daughter two afternoons/evenings after school, but here’s what it looks like today.
Still could use some work, but it looks a TON better than it did! Could definitely use a good vacuuming too!!
Not bad at all! If you try this out, I would love to hear your results!
For now, I need to finish my laundry. When it’s all hung up to dry, I think I’ll reward myself with some knitting time. 🙂