Teaching kids to be tidy…

So it’s been a real struggle around here to try and get my kids to keep their rooms even remotely tidy. We have also been battling spiders and earwigs this summer, and no matter how much we spray, the bugs keep coming back. And I hate to say it, but the wet towels getting shoved under beds because the kids are too lazy to hang them up seems to have a major part to play in all this. So I have been working on keeping the bathrooms tidy, and have been really encouraging the kids to clean their rooms. It has mostly ended in overwhelmed kids who scream at me like I am the worst person in the world, ever.

Today we had a joint session with Walt’s therapist, and he helped us work out a way to make this happen. Since Walter(and Liney!) often goes into his room with the intention to clean it, but gets lost among all his stuff, we broke the room into separate, individual tasks. These are each written on a cardboard ticket (thankfully I had some from an old old chore chart we never use any more). He can then take the tickets and do the tasks in whatever order he wants (except sweeping and mopping, that one kind of has to be last). Every time he finishes 3 tickets, he can have a small break and/or reward. This allows him to get some help in what to do, but I don’t have to be there bossing him around, and since it’s a physical reminder of what to do, it should keep him from forgetting as soon as he leaves the room. He got 3 done earlier, so I let him go to dance class as his reward, he really wanted to get out of the house and do something fun, and I am glad he is being active and not just trying to play video games. We will see how this works over the rest of today and tomorrow…

And on Saturday, we are going through all the toys and clothes to pare it down. They can keep 10 stuffed animals on their bed, 10 in storage (for baby toys they just can’t quite get rid of, but never play with), and then I am asking them to donate the rest. 
As for their other toys, they have a row of bins in the hall storage counter thing (I have no clue what to call it, it’s like a built in shelving unit for 12×12 storage cubes) and a small set of drawers in their rooms. Once the drawers are full, there is no more room for toys, and then they have to decide what to donate. 
For the clothes, any shirts they can’t fit in for school either need to get donated or put into my tshirt quilt project – I want to make each of them a twin sized blanket. Any clothes that are stained or have holes need to go, no matter what. All church clothes and uniforms have to get hung up, no more trying to cram them in a dresser (and breaking 2 drawers like Walter did, stinky cheap dresser!) 
And the “meanest” part of all? I will only be putting back one week’s worth of clothing into their drawers, and then every day they keep their rooms tidy, they can go “shopping” in the good clothes we kept for new outfits. After a couple months, I will quietly donate the clothing that they consistently pass over and choose not to “buy” back with their responsible behaviors.

I am hoping that maybe this will help them see how much easier it is to keep things tidy by putting everything in a very specific place. I am also hoping this will help us get rid of the earwigs for good – those things are creepy! 

Oh yeah, and I am going to work on teaching them to take their pajamas into the bathroom when they bathe, so they can change right then and there, and don’t have the temptation to just leave the wet towel on the floor or in the closet or wherever those end up (eew).

Wish me luck!
Photo of my Task Tickets:  

So it’s not an elegant solution, but the tickets do fit just so into these baby food containers. They are dry erase, since they are these sort of laminated cardboard, and I just wrote on them with dry erase crayons. That way I can re-use them for other tasks if we ever have another job that needs to get broken down into smaller steps.
Here’s some examples of what is on the cards:

I have given both kids the same tasks, one kid is in red, the other in blue, just so I can see at a glance who has turned in tickets.

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