That song from Barney “Clean up Clean up – everybody everywhere” rings in my head many times a day. Unless you are a toddler or a 5 year old for that matter where that song might be fun – but usually falls on deaf ears.
My wife had posted awhile ago on Facebook about “There is no cleaner floor than one that houses a toddler”. This, although I would include ‘house’, is very true.
A toddler is able to find the smallest little speck of something on the floor – an ant, crumb, seed, toy, whatever. And where does it go? Straight in their mouth. So, from the day that Kinzy started to sit or crawl on the floor, it became Saffiya’s ‘job’ to pickup ‘small things’. With Saffiya, as a crawler, it was fine because it was just us and could ‘tidy up’ relatively independently. But, with Kinzy, it was Saffiya that was usually the contributor to ‘small things’ – Barbie shoes, small plastic dinnerware from her Barbie Dreamhouse, marker caps, buttons, everything and all things ‘chokable’. But, now, she would walk around like a diligent american government food inspector in one of those back alley Thai restaurants (in the back alleys of Thailand) – magnifying glass, hands and knees, identifying the smallest of small things. You would not find one speck of anything on our floor. And, oh the day, if there was something that was identified, it was alarm bells and shouting at the infamous find and then the blame – oh the blame – “Baba, how could you!” “Momma, do you know what this could do to MY sister?” (note how she emphasizes MY when most of the time she has decided she wants to return her to wherever she came from). She was our diligent ‘small thing’ picker-upper.
But, we managed to keep our littlest away from small things (atleast, what we didn’t see ingested and coming out the other end). And now, the little one runs around and doubles the amount of small things that can trespass on our floor above and beyond her sisters capabilities. However, this one is pretty good – if she sees something (which she does eventually), she has seen us panic far too many times when she puts something in her mouth, so now she just simply brings the small speck of dust and hands it over to for us to do whatever must be done with the offending speck.
I read awhile ago that when your kids, at a young age, see you cleaning, they want to do the same. And, they grow up with an understanding that it takes the family to keep the house organized.
I’m wondering where that article is because I really want to find out when that ‘age’ happens where they realize they want to do it. Currently, as I am using the small hand held vacuum to pickup crumbs (from the last 2 hours since I used it in the exact same place), and my oldest casually lifts up both legs so that I may pass by (while her focus remains, without missing anything, on Minecraft). And, behind me, my youngest is toddling after me with a biscuit (oh good, more crumbs) joining in the vacuum game.
My once obsessed-with-clean oldest- who used to organize her room like a demon several times a day and had to have everything in its perfect place (even if that perfect place meant that her school sock must not touch, in any way, her school shirt on the hook for the next day) has become what I can only assume is about as close to being a teenager as possible – not interested in cleaning.
I will admit that we do have a maid that comes in for a few hours 3 times per week. She does the big cleaning stuff (floor, windows, changes linens, bathrooms and ironing). However, within about 13.5 minutes of her departure, it’s like a wind has just blown through the house and dropped various articles in all kinds of places. School socks dropped on the stairs, Shopkins strewn across the entry way (which I have now stepped on), a Barbie torso (don’t ask) and many many more ‘small things’ that the cat has now joined in the chaos and is happily playing football with them throughout the livingroom.
But, the rest of the upkeep is normally up to this Baba and the wife (in the evenings). This can be difficult because I’m not as crazy as my lovely wife is when it comes to everything in the proper place OR not leaving food particles in the kitchen sink. However, I can atleast avoid any cockroach (Soosar in Arabic) infestations in the near future. And, I am a madman with some Windex and a Dettol spray bottle.
When it comes to my oldest, no matter the amount of conversation we have with her about keeping about ‘clean up clean up’ and the reasoning we attempt:
“Dont you like it when you can go into your drawer and find your favourite zebra pajamas?”
“What if we didn’t put these away or even wash them?”
“Then I would ask the maid to do it”
We threaten tech time-outs (which work with a lot of huffing and puffing). We use actual time outs (which she unfortunately likes because she just sits there and has conversations with herself and after the buzzer times up she just continues to sit there). We send her to bed (no problem – she likes her room).
She is by no means lazy but she definitely is stubborn (I tell you right now, that is NOT from Baba) and following her own little path. But, this girl needs to ‘get on the bus’ (wife-term again) with the rest of the family. And, when it comes to it, she will clean up (especially if she is in a good mood). We did the ‘chore jar’ for which she gets paid a bit for each chore (works and doesn’t work). She does, however, like a bit of creativity when it comes to these tasks so I’m always looking at different things to get her going. Unlike my little one who finds it wonderful to help out and ‘clean’ (I need to enjoy this while I can – infact, I will take videos to show her later on when she turns into the child who will start taking out petitions on not cleaning or create some mutiny with other kids in the compound where we live).
As of now, this is my mission – finding a way to get this consistent in her brain. I’ve Googled myself crazy trying to find new and innovative ways. I’m always up for suggestions so please email me/Twitter me / Facebook me / Pinterest me / Tumblr me – whatever me.
But, one thing I’m very happy about is the fact that those ‘small things’ are no longer an object of our family obsession. Yes, its still a clean floor but atleast that ‘stage’ has moved on.
Clean up Clean up – Everybody everywhere – Now to figure out how to get everyone to do their share.