Thursday, April 9, 2009

Good Cop. Bad Cop.

I've been at it again.

I can't help myself, though. I don't have a better plan.

Here's how it went down.

Good Cop

"Hey, monkeys!! Go put your stuff away."

"Sure, mom!" And then they'd run off to their room and make about a five minute attempt at the disasters that they called their rooms. If only they only had just five minutes worth of clean up to do! I assume the best of those monkeys and thought that they had done a fair amount of the job, even if it wasn't complete. Well, at bedtime, I discovered the rest of the story. They had spent the rest of the time creating MORE mess. Lovely. We are having company over this weekend. What are they thinking?!?!

So, the next morning the sun rose on the new day and I had high hopes that they would want to live in a calm place. So, we worked at putting away some laundry together and I left them to finish putting away their things and to put the scraps of paper and assorted junk into the trash can. I was busy tidying this or that and making that for lunch and then dinner. I got busy in my day of doing at home things. Bedtime rolled around and the kids got ready for bed and Pops and I came upstairs to say prayers with them and to tuck them in for the night. I should be praying every night that these kids eventually decide that putting things away is easier than tripping over them and hurting their toes, but I digress. Obviously, it was still a mess.


Next day.

Bad Cop


"What, mom?"

"Today, those rooms are going to be cleaned. If you don't get them cleaned up before the timer goes off, I will come up and help you. However, my help will involve a very large black trash bag and I will not preserve much. I am setting the timer for 40 minutes. Go."

A chorus followed.

"Aah, mom."
"Don't throw away my things!"
"That's mean."
"I don't like you to be a mean mommy."
"Can't you just help us get it done?"

"I will help you in 38 minutes with my black trash bag. I have been Mrs. Nice Mom for the past two whole days, and the two before that. I am tired of your messy rooms. Yes, I will help you when the buzzer goes off. Until then, I would suggest you start putting your things away."

That 40 minutes went rather quickly and I went out in the garage to get a couple black lawn and leaf trash bags. I went upstairs to find Bud and Blossom wrestling on the floor over some toy in Bud's room and Branch busily working in her room putting away all of her prized possessions. I went into Bud's room and began putting anything that I found that was out of its place into my trash bag. That was met with some extreme disgust. Most of what was laying around in Bud's room was books. He is always reading - but he fails to get them back on the bookshelf 99 times out of 100. I then went into the girls' room and found Branch still busy and Blossom sitting in a chair facing the corner. Weird. We don't have a "naughty chair" or a "time out" chair or anything like that. But, she was looking at a book and was leaving al the tidying up to her big sister (like usual). So, I started taking her things first to be put into my bag. Oh, the wails that followed! So, instead of now trying to race me to get things out of my way, she just wails and leaves. So, I continue. Branch became overtly concerned about the safety of her precious items. I reminded her that I hadn't yet gotten to her side of the room, and that she should just be faster than me.

Good Cop

In the end of MY cleaning (which took me about 10 minutes) I sat on the couch in the loft and asked all the kids to come and stand in front of me. I told them how disappointed I was. Then I said that I was proud of Branch for working on cleaning up even when her siblings were not helping. So, I made her an offer. I told her that if she could tell me anything that was in my trash bag that she could name without looking I would give back to her. She recalled that I had a blanket and a couple books of hers. She was right and I dug them out of the bag. Then, I told her that I was REALLY proud of her willingness to help today. I told her that I knew that she is usually the one who is doing the cleaning when I ask her to. So, I gave her a little bit of power. I told her that she could choose to help Bud and Blossom get their items out of my bag for them to put away if she wanted to. She had the option of just leaving it how it was, or she could make requests of me on their behalf to have things removed from their impending doom. I was only slightly surprised to see just how willing she was to help Bud and Blossom get their books, clothes and toys out of the trash bag. There was still a half bag of trash to toss when things were all said and done. 

I have a tidy home, for now. I hope to be done with Good Cop/Bad Cop. What strategies do you all use to find your home being tidy again? I want a new plan. I'll leave bad cop duties to Pops.


  1. Still waiting for you to do this to my office. And, NO, I do not recall anything you may put in that black bag! -Pops

  2. I like your idea, my friend! I might just have to try that myself! I also like the power you gave to Branch for always helping out. That would be my middle child too! My youngest is still the one who makes most of our/their messes, so not sure how soon I could start playing good cop/bad cop and be effective, but I am wanting to try!


Thanks for jumping in and leaving your thoughts!!

I sure like to know who enjoys playing around the treehouse!