Calling all creative parents

I need help!!  I am just about out of ideas to help my 9 year old Chickie…

She is so much like me.  At times that can make it very difficult to parent her.  I see her struggle with many of the same things I struggled with as a child.  It gives me compassion and understanding but it comes with a load of frustration as well. 

See, Chickie and I suffer from PackRatitis.  It’s all in good intention… let’s save that because we’ll need it again someday.  But clutter drives me insane.  I get stressed and overwhelmed by piles of stuff everywhere.  I cannot work in a messy environment.  My desk and my half of the office is just about spotless.  Unfortunately that “Office OCD” doesn’t translate well to homelife.  I share my home with three kids, a hubby, two dogs and two cats.  And none of them have OCD.  In fact, my hubby has Obliviousitis – a trait that he has passed to Chickie.  So not only is she a packrat – she oblivious to it.

I was raised in a home where my room had to be clean 24/7.  If things got out of control then my mother would clean it up and give away my clothes or toys.  Or if I was lucky she would box it up for a year and I’d eventually get it back.  I don’t want that for Chickie.  I want her to respect herself, her room, her sister (who shares her room), our home and her belongings.  

So far that isn’t going so well.  At 9 years of age she is expected to do her own laundry (which by the way she loves to do at other people’s houses).  Failing that she’s out of clean clothes.  I’ve gone so far as to “take away” her clothes and allow her one outfit until she earned back more clothes.  No lesson learned.  

The kids have a huge playroom in the basement where most of their toys are supposed to stay.  I’m not a huge stickler about having toys in their rooms but when there’s more toys shoved under her bed than in the playroom….  I also feel it isn’t fair to Beans to have to share a room with Chickie.  Our home has three bedrooms.  The Boy has his own room – which he keeps very clean.  Beans and Chickie share the larger bedroom.  I don’t want to reward Chickie by giving her her own room and making The Boy share his room with Beans.

Any ideas for helping Chickie learn about respecting her living environment?  It’s more of a two-fold request… She needs to learn and I need to teach.  And.  There needs to be a stiff consequence when/if she doesn’t maintain some level of cleanliness in her room.

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3 responses to “Calling all creative parents

  • Dan

    Hello, my name is Dan, and I’m a recovering pack-rat-a-holic.

    I have 3 words for you:
    27 fling boogie.

    See http://flylady.net/pages/flyinglessons_decluttertips.asp for more information.

    The ‘zone’ approach seems to work well for us, too (although some days are a lot better than others). The zone approach is where a room is divided up into several areas, and you do one area (with a timer) per day of the week in a rotation — and that’s it.

    And I think you’re on the right path with wanting to teach it yourself. (AKA ‘being the example’) You can influence more from your own experience, struggles and pain than from saying ‘just do it’.

  • Alyssa

    We don’t have kids (Well, one, sort of, but it’s really really small still….), but Jeff and I have really worked on breaking things into very small steps for ourselves. Kind of what Dan was getting at. We no longer tell ourselves to clean the whole house, but just a part of it today and another part tomorrow, etc. Building habits. And we write everything down and don’t work on more than 3 habits at a time, total (cleaning and working out and everything included).

    From my teaching experience here are my ideas. They may not be very good:

    1. Pick one do-able thing you want (our rule is that a habit should take no more than 10 minutes a day if possible). Toys in toy room, maybe?

    2. Pick a measurement and a visual representation, like a marble jar or a poster. 10 minutes on the timer, no toys under the bed when Mom does her 8-o’clock check, whatever.

    3. Pick a reward and a consequence. So for every 5 stars or check marks or tickets or marbles or whatever she gets maybe a half hour extra of TV or ice cream or a back rub or something. If she has less than 3 stars then maybe she loses TV time or what have you.

    Hope this helps! Good luck!

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