Monday, February 27, 2006

The Great Reorganization

Not too much went on this weekend in my A/O. I spent all Saturday reorganizing my daughters' room.

They have a hard time keeping it clean. This is mainly my younger daughter's fault. She pulls out toys and clothes and stuff while daughter #1 is at school so #1 comes home to a mess and has to, unfairly, clean up her sibling's disaster. So, it slides. And slides. Until the mess is too much for them and almost too much for us. I finally got tired of it.

I flipped their bed around and reorganized their closets. I cleaned up their mess and moved their TV across the room. It's not perfect -- they just have too much stuff for it to ever be perfect -- but it gives them more space to play with the space being better distributed.

They have been given rules in the past. But I have given them three rules to follow every day: keep your beds clean (made up and no toys on them); anything you take out, you must put away before doing anything else; and they have a cabinet of games and crafts that they must ask permission before getting anything out of. Simple, yes? Well, they've had variations in the past that have always failed.

Failure is the issue I've been concerned with while devoting so much of my time to the task. My wife has spent countless hours reorganizing their room, only to have the mess take over. Part of the problem, I think, is that their only incentive to keep things clean was to not get in trouble. That is, if they kept their room clean, nothing positive happened, just maintaining status quo. But if it was dirty, they got in trouble. The other, obvious problem, is that they have too much stuff in too small a space.

As for the first problem, I have initiated an allowance for them. This way, they have a positive incentive if they keep things clean and organized and lose that incentive if not (and further punishment as necessary). Of course, to make this a habit for them, the wife and I have to become very active in helping them keep things clean. Which is the primary reason these things fail in the first place -- lack of our participation. We're hoping to add new chores every five weeks or so, giving the kids enough time to turn the new activities into habit before creating more tasks.

The second problem is a lot harder to deal with. Space is a premium. We already have a storage unit and are going to have to move yet more stuff to it. There are times I want to just get rid of so much stuff. But whenever I start trying to cut back my own crud, I hit a brick wall. We're pack rats. It's a hard habit to break.

So, if anyone wants to hire an editor for about twice what I'm making now so I can afford a bigger place, let me know.

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