Not My Pillows!

Nothing stays in its place in this home.

For someone who enjoys begs to stay somewhat organized, this can drive me batty.

Cars are one example. We have about 500 matchbox cars. I’m not exaggerating. I’d count them for you, but that would mean I’d have to find them all. And I’m not into self-punishment.

Pillows are another. The decorative pillows for my couch are never ON my couch. They’re on the floor, across the room, or wedged between the wall and the circular bookcase.

I brought home two new pillows not long ago, only to find my toddler smashing them with his bare toes as he navigated the lava pit in our living room. Shame on me for torturing new pillows. I’m sure they much preferred the peaceful store shelf.

21 - pillows

Sometimes I have to bite my tongue – pretty hard – not to say something. Other times – like the day my new pillows were on the floor within a half hour of placing them – I blow my top like the volcano that created that lava pit. And feel guilty two seconds later.

Picking up is a never-ending-I-just-put-that-away-five-minutes-ago headache.

I call a time-out when I’ve lost all ability to ignore the mess. Other than the few times they recognize the complete desperation in my eyes, pleas for my sanity go nowhere. I have to speak their language. Appeal to their emotions. Use what makes them tick.

I make it a game.

A simple one is the How fast are you? game. This works for small messes that can be picked up easily. In fact, the best use I’ve found for this is putting away clean laundry.

I sort. I fold. I hand each boy a set of socks. We see who can put away faster. Not only do they have to be fast, they have to pay attention. Whose socks did I give them? Which room are they going to? And which drawer do they belong in? Each one is high-fived upon his return and given another set of socks.

My most popular idea has been the Find it, Fix it! game. We must go around the room looking for things out of place. I give them the role of a stranger coming into our home for the first time. What would stand out as something that’s not supposed to be there? Or takes away from the niceness of our house?

We call them out as we find them. But the key is we have to fix it to count it.

  • “I’m throwing away a granola bar I found under the couch.” Okay, gross.
  • “I found a car in between the couch cushions. It’s going in the car bucket.” One of 6 car buckets, I assure you.
  • “I see food (or something) dripped down the front of the fridge. I’m cleaning it off with Windex.” That’s me!

We tally the items we find and fix in 20 minutes by setting the microwave timer. If we reach 50 together, we all go to the park or go get ice cream. I would actually recommend a higher goal because, in our house, reaching 50 took only about 10 minutes. 🙂

But this really worked! I have to test it again, and I will, but at the very least, it was another successful pick-up where I didn’t lose my mind…or raise my voice.

Now, you may be thinking, cleaning is a part of life. They should be able to fulfill that task without making a game out of it. Of course. There are plenty of times I simply request it and they do it. But if making it fun at times can help along the way, I still think the satisfaction of a job well done afterward will settle in their minds, too. And as they grow older and wiser, they’ll remember that subtle lesson. Hopefully.

If not, I’m simply raising two piglets. And I love them.

Do you have chores turned into games at your house? Please share if you do.

Ready…set…go!


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Hands Free Mama

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