Here is what transpired in my home this Saturday, heading into our Canadian Thanksgiving weekend. I woke up and poured cereal for the kids and over breakfast, I mentioned to them that I noticed several kids' items around the kitchen and living room, which needed to be tidied up. I got changed and headed out to the gym for my Zumba class, reminding the kids and my husband on the way out that there were several items that needed to be put away.
I know you can already guess. When I got home over an hour later, not one item had been put away and it seemed that with the addition of the breakfast dishes, the messiness had just gone over the top! I bet you want to know what I did. I'm a teacher. I'm trained and conditioned to interact with children calmly and rationally. But guess what? I didn't. I raised my voice and said, "I thought I said everyone needed to put their things away. This kitchen and living room is a mess!" Then I yelled at my husband, "There is stuff everywhere!"
I headed into the shower angry. I find it extremely annoying when I feel like I am the only one trying to keep the house tidy - and not only that - I feel like I am the only one who even notices what needs to be done. I just read an article about this. It's called the emotional workload. Look it up! It's about how the majority of the monotonous tasks of running a household still fall to the women.
Now, let's get things straight. I am an organized person, but not a neat-freak. I like the house to be clean, but I am not a perfectionist who normally loses it over some disarray. My philosophy on housekeeping is a bit like this: I try to keep it clean, but p.s. - we live here.
This Saturday morning though, I had had enough. When I got out of the shower to find that none of my requests - nor my raised voice - had motivated anyone in my family to clean up, I decided to do it myself.
Wait for it...
I went to the broom closet and got a black garbage bag. I put in every kids' item that was laying around my kitchen and living room (except for school-related items that will be needed this week) and I filled that darn garbage bag and tied it shut! I filled it with craft supplies, books, toys, clothing and personal items and then I locked it in the laundry cupboard. Until next Saturday.
One week's detention. That is the consequence for leaving those items out and ignoring reminders and requests for them to be put away.
My daughter, who is the most guilty party in the cluttering-up and mess-making arena, was the first to notice me scooping up items and putting them into a black garbage bag. "What are you doing, Mama?" she asked. "Well, since no one else will do it, I am cleaning up. And I will be keeping these things in this bag for a week. Maybe next time you will listen when I tell you to put your things away."
With this, she scooted off to her room where I found her putting away clean and dirty clothing and tidying up her markers. My son, too, caught on and put away a stack of books that were spread across his floor and folded some clean items for his closet.
The children have discovered a few items they are missing: some flip flops, a sweater and one fidget tool that was supposed to go into a classmate's birthday present. I guess we'll see them on the weekend...