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Inspiration in the shape of a 3 year old

July 20, 2008

While the point of Beans is still very relevant in the world of The LNT, I have to share. Rowan learnt a lesson this evening and I must admit to you the shame that is…. the employment of Supernanny Technique part deux.

We have moved on from the naughty step and progressed to the ….. yes you guessed it… the reward chart.

I know I know…. it’s just a step away from applying to Big Brother or something equally shameful but the tidying up of the toys had just got to the point where I may have actually beheaded a teddy bear or something.

Each and every night we have the same routine.

The girls get a warning for bath time and bedtime.. depending on how good they have been they might get a kids’ TV programme before they go upstairs.

This can be scheduled melt down #1 if conditions are not favourable for a Peppa Pig episode.

They fail to learn (kids? Learn? Are you CRAZY, woman?!) that every time they are naughty, they miss out on the luxury of the bedtime episode of PP. But, whatever… I can repeat that nightly for a while to come yet. I’m game if they are.

Then we send them upstairs for the ‘Tidying of the Room’ section of the routine.


I learnt a few weeks ago that if you give them a countdown for a task it inspires them to bring on some speed Child Style*. So after they have been tidying for a few minutes I say something along the lines of ‘I’m going to be coming upstairs in a couple of minutes to check – that room better be tidy!’ … or ‘If that room’s not tidy in two minutes there’s going to be big trouble…’

About a minute later I venture upstairs and observe the room in exactly the same state in was in half an hour before & I start counting down from say 10 or 20 or whatever and they speed up a little. Little being the operative word…

Then we toddle off to the bathroom for whatever particular style of ablution has been picked for that evening… hair washing.. shower.. bath … hose down… etc. etc.

Back on track

Anyway… this evening.. I had kind of got that point. You know.

*That* point.

That point that all parents get to when ‘seriously dooooodes’. Enough is enough.

And after days and days of threatening the removal of bedroom toys if they didn’t check the speed & desire at which the task was completed… I decided that tonight was the night that the threat became action.

They have a dolls house up there, bricks… a wooden oven.. fruit and veg toys etc etc. A lot of toys they really enjoy playing with that are very different to the toys that they have downstairs. Every day I threaten that these things are going the way of the door and every day they speed up a little and I relent.

Because let’s face it. I don’t really want the row and the tears and the melodrama. I just want the God damned room tidied so I can speed read them a story (maybe) and then get the freak outta there and downstairs to my beer/redbull/coffee/dinner and my laptop.

So tonight… I gave them the usual ‘I’ll be up there in 5 minutes blah blah….’ routine and went upstairs to find that Rowan, (or The Procrastinator as she has become known. Kind of like The Terminator, but smaller and slower and less active less of the time) had needed a wee, was in the bathroom, unable to turn the tap off apparently (utter bollocks) and the room YET AGAIN was exactly as it was observed half an hour before and Ella was busying herself destroying a toilet roll.


So – I told them I was going to count to 60 (fair I thought) and that if the room wasn’t tidied by then – they were losing toys.

I duly counted. They duly sat about and moved slowly whilst being generally disinterested and I counted some more.

I called BN to come upstairs and help me and between us we took perhaps 30 seconds to remove anything that hadn’t been tidied up when I reached 60.

Rowan wailed. Bawled and sobbed.

Grieved for her toys and tried to comprehend her own disappointment and heartache at watching her toys disappear to our room and wailed and sobbed and cried some more.

I thought I’d rub some salt into the wound by adding that if only she’d shown some willing, some kind of desire or flicker of interest .. that I would have relented and let her keep things.

But she didn’t so really this was her fault. I know, right? I’m EEEEvil.

I bathed them and got them ready for bed and meanwhile BN was downstairs organising a star chart. A tempting, tantalising ladder of promise. Rowan and I agreed that 8 good tidies (Superstar Tidies as they are known in this house) would reward them with their toys back & just before the lights went out I presented the star chart.

The magical chart of reward!

She is totally overcome and overjoyed at the prospect of the homemade starchart and wondered at it for many minutes and the power that it holds. She wanted to know if we had stickers or if we were drawing stars. What colour would they be. Gold, I said. (I can buy some gold star stickers tomorrow).

I pulled her into my lap in her little Tinkerbell nightie and she dissolved again. Not spoilt, bratty tears but genuine broken hearted grief tears. She is gutted. My poor baby. I hate having to be the one to teach her this emotion. I hate it that we have to be the ones that bring this feeling into their tummies. Because I know it so well. That horrible stomach churning tummy ache that genuine upset causes.

As she sat in my lap weeping she nuzzled her face into my neck and gave me a tiny, light kiss. Then she whispered. I didn’t hear her so I asked her to say it again. She brought her hot little mouth next to my ear and whispered again.

‘You’re not my best friend anymore, mummy cos you made me so sad.’

Ugh. My heart skipped a beat 😥

I gave her some comforting words and told her sleep well, read them a little story and left the room feeling like a rotten winner. I don’t want to make my little girl say those kinds of things to me. I hate making her feel sad and lonely.

I was ready to come downstairs and shed a little tear of guilt and self pity.

Just as I pulled the door closed, she called out in her *extra special effort I’m a spoilt brat tone of voice with an extra side of sass*

‘I don’t like gold stars anyway!’

Photo 83

*This is not normal speed – this is I can try and carry maybe one more thing and trot for a couple of paces before I think you’re not looking again.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. July 21, 2008 3:32 am

    Sticking my head over the parapet here :o)

    this is NOT what you should do, this is what I did with 3 under 5’s and previously with 2 under 3’s (all included in the 3 yeah?)

    We didn’t do evening tidying till everyone was school age. Cos evenings are for baths and cuddles in my house, play a game together and put it away together but no biggies before bed. After tea or dinner no tv or dvd or pooter (for the kids) coz it always wound them up and they always wanted another episode or whatever and teary tired kids spoil mums evening off in this house. If the bedroom is a craphole at bedtime then they can fall over a train and cry all night if they want, no sympathy from me (ok maybe not at 3) downstairs where Mum relaxes was always tidied before tea, it may mean shoving most behind the sofa when they are too small to be a real help but it gets better. My memory is shocking, try balancing a speeding table on your head for a laugh :o) but in my house, the kids your kids age were only capable of a proper tidy up under supervision or it became an extra playtime. Does the ‘I bet you can’t fill that box before I count to 5 and give you a cuddle’ thing work? Plus if they are sharing they probably both think it quite reasonable to leave it all to their sister, whilst trying to look like they are doing something constructive (not sure that shredding loo roll helps though)
    my answer to ‘your not my best friend’ would be along the lines of ‘I must be because I forgive you for upsetting me as well’ and ‘I don’t like gold start anyway’ ‘good because your sister will get to choose the first one’
    cruel I may be, do my kids tidy their bedrooms all the time? nope but it is flippin well tidy on Sunday or they don’t get pocket money.

    Like I say, just what I did and Merry will tell you I am really mean and fierce and scary!


    Mrs Hojos last blog post..National Foods are Clueless

  2. July 21, 2008 11:37 am

    ‘You’re not my best friend anymore, mummy cos you made me so sad.’
    I get that one at least a couple of times a day – usually when I’ve told TB he can’t have/do something that he wants. I usually respond ‘so?’ or ‘you’re not my friend either’. He’s learning that it doesn’t get to me.

    I’d go half and half – keep the star chart, but stick with them whilst they’re tidying – there’ll be less need to count if you’re with them, reminding them what they’re doing as they go along (and you may need to buy less toilet roll).

    Good luck.

  3. July 21, 2008 9:22 pm

    I’ll stick my head up too if you like. For what its worth, i don’t think you stand a hope of getting them to tidy up at that age and i ruined several years of relationship with Fran working it out. With the benefit of hindsight, i don’t think they can even begin to hold the idea of tidy in their heads till about 6; Amelie (with 2 older sisters to ‘cajole’ her is just getting it, Josie is nowhere near).

    I know achieving it would be great, but you are doomed to failure and if you win, the fall out and hours of life lost will be so huge it won’t be worth it.

    For what it is worth, the whole thing will be better if you make it part of something you do together, endlessly less time, endlessly less yelling.

    We do a variety of things of which my favourites are:-
    “can you put all the dinosaurs/knex/dolls house things in this basket?
    “Put 1/5/10/15/25 things away.”
    “can you put 10 bits of rubbish in this bag?”
    “who can pick up the most bits of clothes before i count to 20?”
    and then when you are down to the last bits of stuff…
    “right, if i count to 25, lets see it we can make it perfect!!!!”

    We’ve always had a basket/box/tub for each thing so they know what is the general plan, otherwise it is all just too overwhelming. They have the attention spans of gnats over this stuff, they really do just forget what they were doing.

    Once F/M were 5/6 we did occasionally tidy with a bin bag or heap everything into the centre of the room and say “you have 20 minutes to fix that” – somehow the heap seems to focus them more than spread mess, perhaps cos it looks weird?

    I so didn’t want to end up like Mum and us over it; we aren’t perfect here but i can honestly say that teaching them a method is beginning to pay off now.

    Merrys last blog post..A “not-a-holiday that was lovely” and some other bits.

  4. July 21, 2008 9:49 pm

    Wow – lots of heads up 🙂

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