Mark yesterday down in the calendar as one of the hardest parenting days I've had thus far. I'd like to note it, because when the girls turn 15 or 16 and I have a REALLY hard parenting day, I'd like to look back at this one and laugh. Really.
It all started simply enough. The girls didn't clean up on Wednesday night and we ran out of time so I told them that the next morning after breakfast they would need to go clean up the family room before we got to do anything else for the day. The family/toy room wasn't THAT messy, but it still need straightening up. Especially since they led me to believe they had cleaned it Wednesday and I never went and double checked until it was bedtime. Thus started the war.
Both girls said they just weren't going to clean. Fine. John and I said they could stay up stairs until it was cleaned up. The minutes ticked away on the clock. A little before lunch time, I told them if it wasn't cleaned before lunch they'd loose an App on their iPad. No biggie they said. They filed down the stairs for lunch where I made them eat in silence. John uninstalled Curious George, one of their favorites. They ate and went back upstairs. And promptly continued ignoring us. Late afternoon, I called my mom in supreme frustration. She came over to see if she could talk to them and see what the big deal was. Why they were just flat out refusing to clean. They sometimes delay, whine, refuse for short periods of time, but this was beyond anything we'd ever experienced.
Mom talked to them and got them to clean their bedroom (which over the course of the morning they had gotten messy.) Finally a bit before 5, I decided to call a truce. I told the girls to go outside and play until dinner time. After dinner they were only allowed to color or read books. (I had a dinner with a friend, so I ended up abandoning John at this point.) Luckily the entire day they were extremely pleasant. Just pleasantly refusing to clean up. John fed them and sent them to bed after a very boring evening.
Today I took them over to my moms house and then I got to work. I cleaned up the family room from top to bottom. I spent 3.5 hours sorting, trashing and stowing away toys. I threw away a huge trashbag of broken toys, paper and odds and ends. I rounded up over half of their toys and stacked them neatly in the guest room, which is now locked. They are left with: the dollhouse, their snap girls, limited kitchen toys, a third of their dress up clothes, wooden blocks, plastic animal figures, dolls and half their stuffed animals. (This is upstairs toys, downstairs they still have all their books, coloring books, paint supplies, playdoh, etc.) I also left out legos, but put them up high and for now can only play with them if John is playing with them. I also left out a sensory tub of beans but they are also up high and have to be "checked" out. One note, I did a deep cleaning, it would have only taken them about 10 -15 minutes to do the straightening up I was asking them to do.
The family room looks smashing now. It is a space that is inviting and doesn't feel cluttered. I'm not even 100% sure that the rest of the toys will ever come back. Maybe a few, but I really like the simplicity of what I have going on now. I think too much stimulation was causing them not to want to play with anything in depth. Now they'll have to use a bit more imagination to create fun. I joked with my mom that tomorrow they aren't going to be allowed to play in there, only sit and marvel at the cleanliness of the room!
When I went to pick the girls up after all my hard work, we all ended up in Mom's swimming pool for the afternoon. I told the girls since I spent the day doing their job, that I didn't have time to do my job so they weren't going to get dinner tonight. They didn't really like that, so Maddie suggested we go out to dinner. I told her that wasn't a solution that worked for me. I told her that I suppose she could have some leftover soup for dinner. We had a fun time in the pool. The girls put on their puddle jumpers and were paddling themselves all around the pool. I have a feeling this summer is going to be much more fun as far as swimming goes!
After swimming, we came home and soup did not really sound great to me, since I'd actually eaten some of it for lunch today. Teasing the girls, I asked, "Do you guys want leftover vegetable soup or pancakes and eggs for dinner?" Of course they chose pancakes so I did end up whipping up a fast little breakfast dinner for everyone. After dinner I took the girls up to the family room and showed them all my hard work. They were actually very happy at the room. They said it looked so pretty. They gave me big hugs and kisses. And they were worried about some of their toys, I think they were just happy that I didn't take them all away!
What a crazy couple of days it's been!