consequences of the storm

After Hurricane Elliott (and his playdate friend) rolled through the house, they left in their paths three rooms covered with stuff – kitchenette items here, silkies there, baskets of toys dumped, more mess than I have ever seen. While playing, I had suggested a few times that clean up after said friend left would be hard but his responsibility. But on the storm rolled.

Once his friend left, he was suddenly too tired to clean up and the tears started up. I offered music to aid the clean up process and to help some after I finished my work. But the picking up did not start. Calmly (but pulling out all the tactics), I stated that if he was too tired to clean up, he was too tired for gymnastics with friends tonight, too tired to stay up tonight, and he would no longer have friends over if he could not follow up a playdate with clean up. Then, I see Oliver with beads in mouth as he slipped on a kitchen baking pan. At that point, I lost it and yelled, well, a lot. As I rattled off all the consequences to him again in my loud mama voice, I realized it would not work. Elliott is strong-willed and will drag out something until I go nuts. But I wanted the house picked up NOW. So I decided I could still enforce consequences, but I would keep Oliver safe by picking the items up into boxes. So now four boxes sit in the laundry room and Elliott is starting to realize that not being able to play with any other toys until the mess is cleaned up stinks. He can be stubborn, but at least I have the house picked up and I am not going to go (as) nuts.

In the midst of situations like this, all ideas of how to act or suggestions I have heard seem to go out the window. I am left not knowing if my reaction was the best reaction. If I had not made so many of the toys or liked some of these gifts from friends, I would be inclined to box them up and say good-bye at Goodwill. Not sure that would be an appropriate reaction either.  But at least if I can find a plan that stops me from yelling, it has to be a decent one. I think. Any thoughts?

(To give you an idea of what this near five-year old is like: Just before I cleaned up into the boxes, I said in anger, “You’re not doing ANYTHING else until this mess is cleaned up.” He followed up with “Can I turn on a light? Can I sit down?” … Now, as I write this, he is asking me to pack up more of his stuff and asking if he can just touch his toys… I just might go nuts! Daily, I miss the window for clear calm communications and it is all downhill from there…. But, after posting, I asked him (calmly) to tell me what has happened and why. It is clear he understands and he can detail it out. And the internal screaming starts.)



  1. Noelle said,

    May 18, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    This was very nearly my day–I told the girls it would be “bedroom blitz” today, offering waffle cones as an incentive. Pippin immediately started the whining and crying. But miraculously when she chose to help me clean her room instead of take a nap, she stayed on task and we finished in record time. Now Addie is dragging out her part of it (make her bed) and crying that she can’t finish, she is too distracted, too hungry….I told her no waffle cone if mom makes her bed, and was certain I would have to carry out that consequence but she found the gumption at the last minute to get the job done. These positive results are definitely abnormal in our house, and I always find myself yelling at them and thinking “how will I ever teach them to cheerfully clean up if I’m always yelling at them about cleaning up?”

    These little people sure know how to take us to the edge of our abilities, don’t they? Would a positive reinforcement/incentive plan work for you? I don’t mean incentive for Elliott, I mean, you keep track of yourself and if you meet the goal you get rewarded?

  2. montessorimama said,

    May 18, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    HA! I had not thought of that. I was blaming all the coffee consumption for mood swings on my part. Today I denied myself coffee so it is still likely coffee withdrawl. Maybe another incentive – like waffle cone!! 🙂 Sounds like a plan, since Elliott has two boxes to go tomorrow morning 😦 He was a royal fit of nasty about suddenly realizing he misses gymnastics, was not having any dessert/sweets, and Oliver got to stay up later than him. And, AND, two boxes were waiting for tomorrow. Now that I have said it, I feel I have to stick to it. A big consequence…. for everyone involved.

  3. Mary Perry said,

    May 18, 2011 at 11:07 pm

    You can always keep the toys boxed with his name on it. Then when he wants a toy, sorry you need to empty the box and put away the other toys to have it back and if it is not in that box, guess we need to try another.

  4. Michelle said,

    May 19, 2011 at 10:28 am

    Whenever Shane has a play date, I make it clear to both Shane and his friend that at our house, whatever you play with, you put away. So they know from the beginning of the play date that they have to clean whatever mess they make. It doesn’t stop them from making said messes, but everyone’s clear from the get-go how play dates at our house work. I know Shane’s older than Elliott, but we’ve never had any issues enforcing. And the way I see it, just because a friend wants to play doesn’t mean he get to go home scott-free! Just a thought…

    P.S. I love the “you can’t do anything” and the “can I sit down?…” Hahah! Smart boy! :o)

  5. montessorimama said,

    May 19, 2011 at 11:05 am

    Normally I would have the friend and Elliott pick up, atleast some. And I would typically help a bit too. But we did not know the pick up time in advance so it was just time to go. That is why I offered to help even more. Today, Elliott was super good about getting it all put away and even said “The next time I have a playdate, I would tell my friend to put something away when they are done with it. I would not take out all this stuff. Now, can I have a playdate?”

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