Sunday, February 22, 2009


I'm sure every parent with a child has or will soon have many, many fights over picking up toys. In our house it's (drum roll, this is a big shocker) Will has a box that has about 80 of the cars he plays with the most. Of course he can't just pull out the six cars he is actually going to play with. No, the entire box has to be dumped out, on the living room floor, on a daily basis. And pretty much on a daily basis we have a discussion as soon as that box passes from the kitchen linoleum to the living room carpet, about how if he dumps out that box, he will have to pick them up before he goes to bed.

The problem is bed time comes around and you have to pick your battles. And since bed time is usually a battle, I usually let the picking up the cars thing go. Well I'm pretty much tired of picking up the same cars on a daily basis. I have started weeding out a few when he isn't looking that I know he hasn't played with in a few days, and sneaking them into a box in his closet. I don't have any plans of getting rid of them, I just don't want to pick them up every day.

Today I thought I would try something new. When the daily box push was happening, I stopped him, made him look me in the eye and promise that all of those cars were going to be picked up before we went to bed. And if the cars weren't picked up, I was taking them away for one day. About 20 minutes before bed time I started the reminders. He might want to start picking up the cars. Of course he was more interested in the, it's not bed time right now part, then bothering with the cars.

So when his show was done and it was time to go to bed I told him he needed to be picking up the cars now. After about five minutes and three cars being picked up I told him we were going to play a game. I was going to set the timer for three minutes and any car that wasn't picked up, was going into a bag and he would not get to play with those cars for one day. I'm not sure he knew what I was saying, or didn't think I would really do anything because he didn't get much faster. When the timer went off about half the cars were still on the floor. So I grabbed a bag and started picking them up.

Wow! His finger being smashed in a drawer several hours earlier didn't get that big of a reaction. You would have thought I just told him that I was taking away all of his toys, forever, and never getting him a toy again. Unfortunately for him one of the closest toys to me, so first to be picked up, was a new one he had just got that night. He feel to his knees and sobbed that it was his favorite car, and he loved that car, and he needed that car. I didn't cave. I picked up the rest of the cars, put them in a bag, and put the bag on top of a cupboard.

Will decided that he was going to stay in the living room while he screamed and I went to bed. A few minutes later Will came and climbed into bed his arms folded defiantly across his chest.

Mom, I don't want there to be any more timers in my house. They are not nice. And you are not my best friend, any more. (pause) But there is one problem. I need my pants off.

I helped him get undressed and into bed. He ended up crying himself to sleep repeating how much he loved those cars and how much he loved his daddy and his daddy wouldn't want me to take away his cars. Normally I am a softy, but I was secretly smiling laying next to him. I'm pretty sure next time I ask for his cars to be picked up, they will be.


Tom said...

Awesome! Good job, Kari. I'm sure the emotional scarring will heal quickly.

Susie said...

Way to go, girl! I promise it will pay off. I'm proud of you.

Andrea said...

Good for you not caving!

Maiken said...

Way to get creative. I love that he was concerned about his pants. I would have thought he would be down to his diaper already. ;)

Britta said...

Oh the joys of being a mom. Ella's Daddy is never mean either.

Tracie Bramhall said...

My favorite part is you "secretly smiling." I also "secretly smile" at times when you can do nothing else.

I am proud of you. I have a hard time being a stickler on certain things. This is a good story for me to read and prepare for.

Kristen said...

My favorite part was how Will was talking to himself in bed after the whole incident. So cute.

I have tried the same tactics. We even have the "gone-y bag". (He takes toys that don't get picked up and will return them when the kids can show us that they can pick up their rooms.) Only problem is, our kids (especially Brynn who reminds me so much of Will) don't seem to care that much anymore when gone-y bag takes a toy. It is almost as if they realize that if they don't clean their room, gone-y bag will. And then they will just find something else to play with. Maybe that just means we have too many toys.