For some time I have felt overwhelmed by the condition of my house. The amount of kids stuff has multiplied to excessive. And, it never finds it's way to an appropriate place. My kids used to understand that we kept toys upstairs. Now, I find dolls and their accessories, air soft guns and those darn BBs, plastic food, and many stickers, pens and notebooks everywhere I look. They're in the living room; they're in the dining room; they're in the kitchen; they're even in the bathroom! I was driving myself crazy picking it all up only to find them strewn about again in a matter of minutes. Yesterday, I decided I'd had enough. I made a contract for each of the kids to sign. It's very simple, there are only 5 rules.
RULE 1: All dirty clothes must be put inside the dirty clothes hamper, not beside, on top or behind. Clothes not inside the hamper will not be washed. If you don't have clean clothes, you will wear them dirty. I must admit, I got this one from a friend. When she first told me about it, I was shocked! Basically that she would do something so harsh. I think she's a great mom and this seemed contradictory to the Mom Pledge we take... the part about providing clean clothes for our kids. However, a quick clean-up in the boys' room yesterday changed my mind. There were more dirty clothes on the floor, dresser top and closet floor than in the hamper. And there's no excuse. The boys are 8 and 12. The hamper is right next to the bed. It even has a swing top so they don't have to work hard to get the clothes in there. So the rule is set.
RULE 2: No toys are allowed downstairs. This is our living area, not our play area. We have a playroom upstairs and there is tons of space to play outside. Any toy that is found downstairs without its owner will be confiscated for 1 week. I know this one seems harsh to most people. After all, parents should expect toys to be around. But, like I said, we have a playroom for that. Not to mention, I'm 40 years old and I feel it's OK for me to have a grownup house with the appearance of calm and tidy. It makes me feel more clam myself when I don't have to fight Baby Chou Chou for a seat on the couch.
RULE 3: The basket in the kitchen must be emptied each night. Any item left in it overnight will be confiscated for 1 week. This includes toys, extra shoes, clothing, socks, etc. (Remember Mom puts stuff in there during the day that you may not know is there. You must check the basket each night to make sure your stuff is out!) First, let me explain the basket. I have a box-style basket next to the stairs in our kitchen. The kids can put their shoes in it when they come home. There should only be one pair of shoes per child in the basket at any time as they also have shoe cubbies in their closets. During the day, if I find random items downstairs belonging to the kids, I put them in the basket for them to take to the appropriate place themselves. Problems I've had with this system have been too many shoes end up in the basket, socks congregate in here and never leave...until Maisy the Weimaraner eats them, and the kids just don't check the basket for their things so it get crammed full of all sorts of stuff. I'm hoping my new rule will make the system more efficient.
RULE 4: All toilets are to be flushed after use. Not doing so makes the house stink. We don't want a stinky house. If you don't flush, you will clean the bathroom and spray the house with air freshener. (If someone is showering when you need to flush, you may wait but don't forget, go back and flush!) I know this sounds like a no brainer but alas, it is not. I've even had to put a sign on the toilet lid that reads "Flush Me Please." I think the worst offender is Jonathan. You'd think a 12 year old would be experienced enough in bathroom etiquette that he'd know to flush. But morning after morning I enter the kids' bathroom to find the toilet full of yellow water. And, don't worry. I know he's the culprit as he is the only one to use that bathroom in the mornings. Hopefully having to clean the bathroom (my least favorite chore) will teach him.
RULE 5: Declining to help when asked is not an option. You stop what you're doing and do as you are asked. If you choose to complain or not do as asked when you are asked, you will receive a demerit. 5 demerits in one week = no allowance! So far we have one child with one demerit and this has only been in play since yesterday afternoon! Obviously this is a problem for our family. The other day, I had one of them decide not to play with the dog because the money he'd have deducted from his allowance by not doing this chore would not be as much as the extra money he'd just made babysitting his sister. Logical? Yes, in a sinister sort of way. An option? No. Although this happened prior to the rule's inception, this infraction is the reason for the rule. Now, to find a good tally system for all those demerits.
So these are our new rules. Nothing too difficult. It should be noted that this contract has nothing to do with their regular weekly chores. Each child signed the contract and so far has entered into it enthusiastically. Lets see how long that lasts.