Every once in a while my kids give me a reality check. I stay at home with my them and since my husband is gone often in the evenings as well as all day, I have a huge influence on how my kids will turn out. That is a lot of responsibility for little old me. We don’t watch TV much, so they have unstructured play most of the day. Actually, Mae structures the play, but that is another blog.

Lately the ladies have been playing a dress-up game that involves taking every blanket, towel and pillow they can find to the living room, then laying waste to the rest of the house behind them. I will be off in another part of the house sorting laundry (I wash about nine loads a week, and fold about six… make that four). I will go check on them, to find they are trying on their Sunday dresses (yet another thing to pick up) and I will tell them they need to start putting things away before lunch. After several checks, and some supervision I will find myself yelling at them quit playing and to pick things up. That is where Leo comes in with the reality check. He can’t talk much yet, but he has mastered my tone and volume. He’ll come in their room, flapping his arms and making screechy “Yah yah yah” noises, then he will look at me with a smile waiting for approval. This is not something I am proud to have taught my son. Why couldn’t I have taught him ‘high five’?

I admit, I don’t do a good job having them pick up every day, although these last few weeks have been better, up until a couple of days ago. I don’t have strict standards, but it is dismaying to watch a manageable mess become insurmountable in a small amount of time. I absolutely refuse to pick it all up myself, they are old enough to clean up their messes, although I do help some. I use the Love and Logic choice thing and I hear “none” from Jane. I instigate races, I tell them to work on colors, I make up songs, I tell them we will do something fun when they are done cleaning, I make a pile of the stuff in the middle of a room, I send different kids to different rooms. Nothing works very well, and all of it is exhausting. If I have them do it themselves, they will start, then will not know what to pick up next, or they will flat out get sidetracked as Mae makes some sort of game for Jane to follow and off they go. If I take things away, we are talking blankets and pillows here. If I take away Jane’s pillow she will scream for two hours, and I can’t take that. Mom was not good at creative manipulation (don’t take it personally Mom), and neither am I. Maybe this is something you have to learn a the knee of a master. Is there something I am missing? How do you get your kids to pick up after themselves?

Factoid about me. I have actually gone into the living room, lost it on the kids about the state of the room then turned around, marched into the kitchen and popped my Wellbutrin. Not an extra one mind you, but I have realized mid-tirade that I forgot my happy chemicals for the day. In other news, I wonder if I need to adjust things. I cried at Clifford’s Puppy Days today, it was the one about the latkes, and it wasn’t the first time I had seen it.