Okay I admit it. I am always trying to figure out how in the heck to get my kids to do what I want-namely, PICK UP AFTER THEMSELVES! I swear I have tried everything! There are 6 people in this house and 1 who knows that things really do have a home ;)
So I've been stressing it a little. It seems like no matter how hard I work, I'm barely treading water. It gets old. I feel like with as hard as I work, I should be more organized, but things just weren't falling together.
So I picked up a book about organization at Deseret Book the other day. I decided I would go through 1 idea at a time and implement it and see if it could help me figure out how to work smarter since I'm working plenty hard already (not that you would know it).
One of the first ideas was how to help kids get in the habit of picking things up as they walk by them, without being asked. So I took the idea and planned a family home evening around it.
First I went to Broulim's and bought some Mason jars (which Mason thought was awesome). I pulled out scrapbook paper, Elmer's glue, ribbon, scissors etc. I also bought the brightly colored straws from the store. The kids and I cut strips out of the scrapbook papers, glued them around the mason jars, and decorated them up. I made name strips for the jars and tied them around the tops. Then I made a third jar. I took all the straws and cut them off just before the bendy part, and filled the jar with them. After all the deco was done, I explained to the kids what they were for and how it works.
In the middle jar are the straws. On either side is one of the kids jars (empty). Each time they pick up something that is NOT their own, without being asked, they come tell me. I let them pick a straw to take out of the middle jar and put into their jar. We set up a cupboard top in the kitchen where they sit, along with a sign that says Mommy's Helping Hands, some handprints, and the prize list. The kids are able to trade in their straws for prizes off the prize list. For example, 5 straws buys a treat, 50 straws and you can get your nails painted, 100 straws gets you a Webkinz, while 200 straws gets you a night out with mom or dad.
The kids think this is the BEST THING EVER! They are running around my house, still, looking for anything that is out of place and putting it away! We also told them that if I pick up anything of theirs, I get to take a straw away. If Mason picks up something of Savannah's, he can take a straw from her jar and put it in his and vice versa. This helped them to not just leave everything out and let the other person pick it up (since they don't get straws for putting away their own stuff-they should do that anyway!).
Mason rushes home from school asking if he can earn straws. They count them up and see how many more they need for the prize they want. Yesterday he came home and said, "Mom, I was telling ____ about the straw thing and he said, 'No fair! You have a fun mom!" The kids think I came up with the best game ever, and I get a cleaner house with less effort on my part (read some help for once ;)! It's a win win. I would call this one a success.
Each week, I plan to do some sort of organizational/motivational idea with them at FHE. But for this week at least, there are no longer all sorts of random items laying around my house at any given time.