Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A New Rule: Trying to Tame the Laundry

There are a few things that my darling, dear children do that are likely to drive me totally wild. On the current top of the list: complaining about not have clothes to wear because they are dirty. Since I am in charge of laundry, that would be a legitimate complaint to lay at my door. Except when I have done laundry and their clothes were not handed over for processing.

Usually I find their clothes on the floor of their room, on their desks or dressers, on the floor of their closet, hanging over their stuffed hampers, under beds, and even on chairs. Not only does this cause a big issue for my work of the laundry, but it also keeps their rooms well beyond navigable, not to mention how much dirtier the rooms look--and they are always at some level of disaster.

I have tried reminders and explanations to no avail. I have sat with them while they cleaned up. Since I have no job left other than toddler-parenting and housekeeping with my two oldest now attending public school, I have been very attentive of the laundry recently. Once I finished what was in the laundry room, I was quite satisfied with myself. Until I realized that I had almost as much laundry still in the kids' rooms.

Now we have a nightly inspection of each of their rooms. All clothing needs to be on hangars, in the hamper, or in their drawers. Not on the floor. Not on chairs (unless it's laid out for the next day). Not on top of dressers, desks, or chairs. Not in the bottom of the closet. For each item left out they pay me a dollar. It had to be enough to make them notice and it had to represent how much it means to me. This is no small change for them since they only get $4 and $5 a week. Just one item each night would have them in the red.

It worked well tonight, but it's a matter of discipline at this point. Discipline on my part! I have to remember to check each night (warning given first to help them plan their time, but only for a while). I have to remember to remove the amount from their allowance (there's an app for that), if there is anything to remove. Reminder added into my calendar for each night. Done!

Perhaps the money will not give them internal motivation. Maybe when they move out of the house they will keep their houses like pig sties. I could not care less. That will be their problem. This, right now, is a problem I am having with them. I am willing to try this idea for the mindless laundry pick up that needs to be done regularly.


Amy said...

My daughter has been complaining about not having her favorite clothes available lately. Her problem, though, is that she dirties them with potty accidents faster than I can wash them. I just bought 25 new pairs of undies so that she has a stash of about 45 pairs so that I can go more than a day or two without running out.

I actually relish telling Sam, "Your blue pants are dirty because you pooped in them yesterday. You'll have to choose from what is in your drawer." At last, a genuine value of hers that is tied to potty training! Still, it hasn't helped much yet.

Are your girls old enough to do their own laundry? Seems like that would help, if they are able.

Deb said...

Kim, I am totally with you on this. I was never taught as a kid to clean up after myself...my parents were terrible about it themselves. Well, then you grow up and move out of the house and live with roommates or a spouse, and guess what... throwing your own crap all over someone else's space is a bad thing to do. It's not just a harmless little habit, it's a wrong you're doing to the other person. I wish I'd realized this much earlier, and had been taught to have the habit of neatness. It would have saved a lot of needless angst. So, go you.

What I did with my girls was that I went in their rooms myself and *took away the clothes* (and other strewn-about crap, since they clearly didn't value it enough to take care of it). It made them live with fewer things for a while. In order to get their favorite clothes back, they had to wash, fold, and (key) put them away themselves. It was more of a direct consequence than taking away money, and it worked pretty well.

christinemm said...

My oldest was 11 (and 2 months) when I handed over all the laundry to him (helped by the then-8 year old) after both of them got sassy about ME losing their clothes or not doing laundry when everything was washed the prior day. They had left their hoodies in the minivan's trunk and 3 in the lost and found bin at wilderness school.

Is it time to begin having your kids do ALL the laundry?


BTW I thought your younger DD was entering school in September. She is there now? I can't keep up.

Kim said...

I appreciate the suggestion of having the kids do their own laundry. It would be a more logical consequence to their failure to take care of their clothes. It would definitely not make my life easier! With most of their day spent in school now, and tae kwon do, and soccer, and the class(es) we run, my own appointments, the existing chores, homework, and the new habits I am trying to install for the youngest going to school, I could not imagine adding something else.

That and I like my laundry and my laundry room the way I like it. I don't want to be set to do laundry and find that they had left something in the washer and nor do I want to (at this time) spend a lot of effort helping them do the task.

I thought letting them run out of clothes or not having their favorite clothes would bring them around. Alas, it just made them crankier and it impacted me very negatively (not being able to leave the house on time--or even at all). It turns out that their tenacity far outweighed my own.