Thursday, January 6, 2011

Make Them Work

One of the things that irks me the most is when my children fight. I just love each of them so much and want them to love each other!! A lot of the time they do but, like all of us know, sibling fighting and rivalry is as old as sin so it's not that I don't expect it to happen. I do. But nothing bends me all out of shape faster. If I find myself needing to take a few minutes to myself on any given morning, it's usually because my children have been bickering at each other and I've been playing referee.

Most of the time, the older two play pretty well together as they've learned their rhythm and they've been corrected enough times to know the rules of engagement and how they're expected to treat one another-with respect. However, throwing their two-year-old brother in there always adds some spice. And the middle one and his little brother, the aforementioned two-year-old, still have some kinks to work out if you know what I mean. It's all learning but it still can get tiresome for all parties involved.

Some days, like today, are just one of those days when everyone seems to have woken up a bit grumpy. Maybe it's because Joshua has a really high fever and has been walking around in a stupor or because their baby sister woke them all up before 7 am and due to vacation, they've been rolling out of bed much later than that! I don't know. But everyone was in rare form, including their mom, and it was just one of those mornings. And really, there doesn't have to be a reason. Sin is sin and my little people are just as prone to it as I am. They're just not as good at hiding it (which is probably a good thing!).

So after some scuffles and tears, I felt like I was starting to get angry. Not really at anyone, but just at everything. That's when I knew, I needed to change strategies. I read an idea somewhere along the way in this parenting journey we're on, that really intrigued me regarding a discipline tactic. Although the usual rules were definitely still in order, I remembered this technique and thought I'd give it a shot. I've used it before and it worked like a champ. Yet, I had forgotten about it for awhile so, it had been sometime since I had last called upon its merits.

And I was reminded again how genius it is. Make them work. If you can't play nicely, you don't play-you work.

I'm happy to report that I know have newly vacuumed floors. All the recycling has been done and they barely missed having to help mop the floor. Now all of these things are chores they'd have to help with anyway at some point but, they had to stop mid-play and work which is NEVER fun. When I first heard of this idea, I read about a father who would make his girls mop every time they did such and such (fill in the blank) and that some days the floor would get mopped multiple times. How brilliant is that? Mom stops playing referee. The children learn to get along. And the house gets clean in the process which puts Mom into an even better mood because she didn't have to do it!

Not bad. And lucky for me, my kids are finally getting a bit older to where this sort of thing actually works and they really do clean (rather than making a bigger mess than when they started). Somehow sharing your train suddenly becomes much more appealing than sorting trash.

Gratefully, they made it through without having to do too much forced labor and moved onto other things like spy work and saving this adorable damsel in distress (the boys insisted Elliana wear her Halloween outfit while they were "saving" her).

I'm not saying my house is all squeaky clean but, some things got done and most importantly, some attitudes, including mine, got cleaned up in the process. Now, that's my idea of some progress.


  1. Hallelujah! I love this and will have to try it! When we were teens, my dad made my brother and I "churn dirt" once for fighting. (We cleared out weeds and used shovels so he didn't have to roto-til for a new garden.) Best discipline ever. My brother and I shared a great afternoon in disbelief that he actually gave us the shovels and told us to get to work! So we talked and bonded and laughed and now have a priceless memory to share.

  2. what a great idea!!! i am totally implementing this starting tomorrow. thanks!