I'm a big fan of the "Love Logic concept of parenting." It's just so ... logical.
There's only one problem -- I have a 4-year-old and 5-year-old who aren't.
"Mo-oooom, I can't know how to clean up!" Katie wails when asked to carve a path through her bedroom.
It's easy, I tell her. Put the clothes in the hamper, the toys in the toy box and the bits of paper go in the trash.
Not so complicated.
Unless you're 5.
"Mo-oooom, it's too big a mess! I'm just little."
Yes, but who made the mess?
So who should have to clean it up?
OK, I lost her somewhere. I was explaining slowly and used little words, but still.
So, I tell her that it's her responsibility to pick up her messes and for good measure throw in the if-you'd-just-put-your-things-away-when-you're-done-with-them talk for good measure.
She doesn't understand why but decides to clean up anyway. I know why. She still thinks I'm wrong, but realizes that the only way to keep me from launching into another "talk" is to go clean her room.
At least, say she's going to clean her room.
Three days later, the room still looks the same, and I'm tired of begging, bribing and threatening. The Love and Logic method would be to say, "We'll, if you won't clean up, I'm happy to do it for you." And then show your children that the way you do it is to put all their toys in a place where they can't get to them.
I've done that.
And, although it certainly elicits a reaction, it doesn't seem to have any lasting effects.
So, tired and frustrated, I tried a different tactic.
I told my girls that if it was too difficult for them to pick up their toys, they shouldn't have them.
I didn't just grab everything that was on the floor. I grabbed everything. Every ball, doll, action figure and stuffed animal. I even took empty shoe boxes and some string because the girls had used them as toys.
I dumped it all in the spare bedroom and locked the door.
Two days later, I asked the girls to pick up their bedroom. They started into the traditional protests until I reminded them that there was nothing to pick up but their clothes and shoes.
Off they ran -- enthusiastically even -- to clean their room. When I saw Katie come out with a princess doll that I'd missed during my pass through, I told her that she could keep it because she was doing such a good job cleaning up her room.
She walked past me and tossed it into the spare bedroom saying, "That's OK, mommy. Toys are too hard to clean up."
That was three days ago and they're still finding the simple life more appealing. They've not once mentioned their toys or asked for any of them back.
I also am finding that they're really considering the value of their possessions. Instead of finding their blankets in the doorway, they're generally put away on their beds.
I'm really discovering what's important to them.
And now it's easier for them to understand the logic -- you drop it, you pick it up. It's just that simple.
Of course, facing the pile of toys strewn through the spare bedroom (it looks like someone just stood in the doorway and threw everything in), I'm discovering that I'm not as big a fan of logic as I think I am.
The person who makes the mess cleans it up.
And I know exactly who made that mess.