In between boys, marriage, work and running a house, I sometimes indulge my artistic side.  Here’s my latest accomplishment:

The colours on this latest “masterpiece” really are fantastically bright.  It was such a pleasure to work on it when everything outside is so terribly dull and when most of my house is riddled with pebbles (LOL!)

On a happier note, I’ve been thinking about my pebble problem some more and it’s gotten me less frustrated and more motivated.  I realize that the problem started when we moved to this house.  Not only were we getting used to a new home and a new community but I was also entering a new phase in life.  After years of being a single mom, I was now a dating mom.  Eventually, I became an engaged mom and finally I am what I am now – a married mom.  In all that excitement we also transitioned from being a homeschooling family to a family that sent the kids to public school.  A lot of changes happened in a relatively short time and some good things went by the wayside.

Being on my own and homeschooling, I was able to devote a lot of time to D and P.  Being younger, they needed constant supervision.  I’m very good about cleaning up after myself and so I made my little charges clean up after every activity too.  Of course they did it because to not do it meant the wrath of mean ol’ ma and who wants that?  Not my boys!

When we moved here the boys were older and being busy with new and interesting things (namely DA), I left them more on their own.  Settling into the house took some time and not everything got a home right away.  As they got older, we also got more stuff and more stuff means more mess.  I wasn’t consistent about clean up with them especially as they grew to be able to do more things on their own that previously required my assistance.  I guess I  thought they would automatically internalize my clean up mentality but how could they really?  Clean up means different things to different people.  To me, clean up means leaving a room the way you found it.  To D and P it might mean that they put the bread away and put the lid on the peanut butter.  They’re not thinking about the crumbs, the sticky knife on the counter or the fact that they found the peanut butter jar in a cupboard and that maybe that’s where I want it put away when they’re done with it.

I’m getting annoyed with them because they’re not cleaning up the way I want them to and they’re getting annoyed with me because I’m constantly calling them and pointing out what I see as infractions.  First of all, I need to clearly define to them what I mean by cleaning up.  Then we need to use the “ladder method”.  What I mean by that is that we need to go rung by rung to get D and P to where I want them to be.  The top of the ladder is that they always leave a room the way they found it or better.  The first rung of the ladder is the front entrance way.  We need to start there.  The shoes or boots need to be placed on the mat (I may do plastic cut outs so they know where I expect them to be.)  Coats need to be hung on hangers in the closet.  Assigned hangers may be in order here.  Back packs will also have an assigned spot.  The retraining will start at the front door.  When we’re getting good at that area, we’ll move to the next recurring problem spot while still maintaining the good habits we’ve created at the last one.

What I like about this plan is that it’s not so overwhelming for me or them.  I simply can’t tackle all the problem areas at once.  I run out of steam.  It’s also unfair to suddenly expect them to leap to the top of my success ladder in a single bound.   Getting to the top is a step by step process.

The consequence for not meeting the front entrance requirements will be scrubbing the floor by the front door (after the guilty one has placed his shoes properly, hung up his coat correctly and put his back pack where it’s supposed to be of course.)  That smallish piece of vinyl flooring is always dirty in the winter anyways.

The first rung will likely be the hardest.  I have a feeling they’ll make it to the next rungs with a bit more ease.  Either that or I’ll have an amazingly scrubbed house.

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