Tuesday, May 7, 2013

A Pompom Garland and a Messy Desk

I loved Leila's pompom garland so much that I acquired an A. C. Moore coupon and bought two bags of pompoms for $4 total.

I started merrily stringing and knotting the pompoms on black perle cotton. Unlike Leila, I didn't make a knot on either side of the pompom because I found that the pompoms still slid around; instead, I tied a double knot directly on the pompom itself and the fluff covered it right up. 

Mid-project, I set my strings aside to tend to a party, but the strings got so entirely tangled that not even my mom, my sis, and my sister-in-law could untangle them!  I was so mad. I snipped the pompoms free and threw away a lot of perle cotton.  Learn from my example if you want to make a pompom garland!  I very carefully kept the strands straight until they were done, and then I carried them directly to their hooks.

I love it.

Airy, like sprinkles in the lime green room.


Now, underneath those pretty pops of color is A Very Messy Desk.  The children share it.  I can hardly bear to look at it.  We try to clean it once a week, usually on Saturdays, but I swear as soon as the brown desk surface reappears and there is space for a project, the children happily submerge themselves in projects and the mess starts up again. 

I want them to do projects and have art materials, but I want them to learn the value of tidying up.  If they want to keep their desk in a different manner when they are adults, that is their business.  I will try not to judge and feel like a failure; I will say they take after their father.  I will let it go, really.

In the meantime, thanks to Rebecca who knows more about parenting than I do, I've come to realize that we are teaching the children about clean desks in these three ways:

Method 1: Parent cleans desk while children are away and takes the trash directly out to the garbage can.

Pros: The desk is clean, an excellent exhibit for the children.  Parents can throw tacky things away without child's knowledge!  
Cons:  Parent's time.  Child has not helped with cleaning.

Method 2:  Parent stands over child for specified amount of time, maybe 15-30 minutes (so parent doesn't go insane) and guides child through each organizing decision:  yes, the marker goes in the marker box; is that a piece of paper you want to save?  then pin it to the bulletin board; put all your paper clips together in this little can, etc. etc. etc.  etc. etc.

Pros: Child learns the actual process of organization.  Process requires parent to eat chocolate before and after (soothing properties).
Cons:  Parent must have infinite patience and no ironic or sarcastic tendencies.  Parent may go insane.  Desk may not be very clean because the process is slow.

Method 3:  Parent tells child to clean desk by specified time (or else it could take all day).  Parent does not enter the room, but may cajole from a distance.  Child may attempt to put organizational skills (see  Method 2) in practice, but usually ends up throwing a lot of things in drawer or trash.  Whatever.

Pros:  Very little parental energy expended.  Children working.
Con:  Messy desk.

I gave the children the extras, thinking they could use them as play food.  The children promptly cut them up for a project.

How do you teach small people to tidy up their own work areas?  I'd love some tips!


Rozy Lass said...

Repetition! Method 2 actually works but you won't see the results until they are late teens to adults. Our three oldest are gone from home and they all thank me for teaching them how to clean and organize; although they rarely displayed those qualities while still at home. There is something about having the back-up of a Mom that causes children to be lazy. When there's no back-up and it's their own place (or dorm or barracks) they suddenly remember everything they learned and turn into quite capable adults. Repetition and patience are the key, after all, as my husband and I told each other over and over "the children are on an 18-19 year training program" so at 8, 13, even 17, they're not done. Keep up the good work, you'll be amazed at what you produce.

jenny_o said...

This tip is not from experience because I had one child who kept things tidy all the time on his own (I know!) and one child who periodically went through everything at once (with the help of her tidy sibling). But I read of an approach that I thought would be helpful, back before my kids turned out differently :)

List the steps required to tidy a room or piece of furniture. A little child could be told the first step, then the next when the first is finished. An older child could read the list themselves, one step at a time.

For instance, for a desk, the first step might be to pick up all the papers and put them in a pile or container. The next step might be to put all the markers together, all the crayons together, etc. Then wipe off the table. Then go through the papers. Or do them the next session.

I hope you find a method that works for you!

Jo said...

Oh my, children and tidying! I tend to go with Method 2, and shut their bedroom doors if I can't stand it. I used to have an art table like yours, but found that once the children had trashed it, they didn't tend to use it anymore until I had cleaned it with them. So now the art table is the dining table, so they HAVE to clean it up before the next meal. They have craft drawers right next to it which we can hide mess in. Everyone happy!

Love those pom poms!

Julian said...

Hmmm. Method two. But honestly, it will take awhile. Do not clean up the mess for them:) i was bad about that. My younger boys throw their laundry on the floor. I tell them well, if you dont pick it up no clean clothes. I used to do alot and end up frustrated because there were no results. Give them an example several times and then they must do it. Love and logic parenting was an excellent book for me.
Love the pompom garland.


The pom poms looks so colourful and airy and has created a happy space by the window.
If the kids are sharing a desk it will be harder for them to keep it clean as probably neither kid has claim to it as their own, nor is able to take full responsibility of it. We tended to use the kitchen table for projects and they would clear away their stuff because of the next snack or meal. Garbage went in kitchen bin. Supplies like paints, crayons, scissors all had specific containers like biscuit tins and designated space for them was in the kitchen. Any project they made was displayed on fridge for a week, then they had to decide which one was their favourite and gave them the camera to take a photo of it. All artwork was thrown away after that unless they kept one for wrapping paper for gift. They kept their photo in family album. No matter what game they played, they always had to put things away after the session was finished. I had these rules because I also did daycare and up to 4 kids at one time, plus my own. There was also some child complaining, but they got over it. Sometimes I'd make up a game like tossing the lego into the bin from a distance and see who could get the most in the bin. The teenage years became more difficult with messy rooms, so I'd say either clean a 3 foot x 3 foot space, or clean for the length of one music cd. It seemed to work.

Unknown said...

I use all your methods too - just like you said (chocolate and all) but I sometimes use them in combination - like, start with 3 and then when the timer goes off, if they're not done yet, then finish with method 2. Every once in a while I do step 1 - like if the dinner table is covered with art supplies and it needs to be set quickly...

I really like this explanation of methods used for cleaning children's corners - if it's O.K. with you I may link to it sometime from my blog : )

Beth in the City said...

I found that what worked best for me was working with my children, teaching as I went. This kept my frustration to a minimum and helped them learn how. Often the BIG mess is overwhelming and they don't know where to start. Having Mom dive in with them helped them to begin and break the project down into manageable chunks. Sometimes we set a timer and say that we are all going to work hard for 15 minutes, for example, cleaning up the basement play area. It's amazing what a mom and two children can get done in 15 minutes with mom directing! As soon as they got done one task I would direct them to the next. It worked for me. Now they are 17 and 14 and much better at working on their own, although we still do projects together.

Sew Blessed Maw [Judy] said...

Love your pom pom garland. So pretty.. And I know, it had to take patience to make..
oh.........the frustration of teaching children to tidy [their own messes!!"..] I think in raising my 2 ,now grown kids, I tried all of the things you listed.. Their were days, that one worked best, and days another thing worked better.. But, I promise you this.. They will learn from their organized mom, it is so amazing how much they "watch, listen, learn" ,that you are not aware of. My son was so messy, and he honestly seemed like he could survive well in the messy places, ha.. And now, he is now a preacher with his doctorate.. And his office both at home and church just amazes me at how well organized they are. [so all my steps of teaching and yes fussing,---did go into his ears apparently.ha My daughter was not quiet as bad, she seemed to want things to be "kinda together".. She too keeps a nice organized house today.
I think my main way was too, give them an x- amount of time , to clean their area, and I would be back to check it.. And add this stimulation, " You better put things where they go, don't you just stuff it in a drawer"..

Sew Blessed Maw [Judy] said...

Sorry, typo error.. Stimulation is suppose to be stipulation..

Dianna said...

Oh, I feel your pain, we've been through all three of those methods with my son's explosion of a room and neither seems to work very well. When I'm feeling particularly trollish, I'll do way 4: "You'd better get this cleaned up by (time). If it's not clean by then, then I come in with a basket and clear out the rest."

I've also tried positive reinforcement: anyone who makes their bed without reminders will find a dime on it later. Unfortunately, that only worked for about three days.

Polly said...

Well, my children are younger than yours so I'm just going to see what ends up working for you and then do that. Ha! But Method #1 is a no-go. It may be effective, but EVERY parent I know who has done this over the years has wound up with children who are immense slobs. Makes me shudder to think about it!

I do not have infinite patience, and I have terrific sarcastic tendencies, but maybe I would choose #2 if I could knit while overseeing them? Or maybe do that for a few months/years until I think they may have it down pat, and then switch to #3?

This is a mystery to me. My mother never really made us do much and I'm naturally tidy (though you cannot tell it by looking at the house I share with my 5 year old and 2 year old) and my sister is naturally sloppy, so we sort of all balanced each other out when I was little....

property shopping said...

I hope you have some more idea's to do some more creative than this. I liked it, but not that good as compared to previous.

Naomi Weaver said...

Dearest Daughter,
I love your Patches Poem. I saved it to my poetry folder. You are an amazing woman and I love you.


Sarah Barry said...

So, I love this blast from the past post! The garland is SO cute. Makes me want to get my hands on some pompoms.

Also, I have struggled all summer with how to approach teaching my children to keep spaces tidy. If I "let it go" then I feel like the house becomes dysfunctional and they don't learn to be good stewards of their things.

I've put a lot of energy into getting them to pick up one space before they mess up another.

I've also tried to help them understand that it is disrespectful to be senselessly messy. One day, the older to un-made my bed immediately after I made it. I know they were playing, but they completely undid my work. I made them re-make it and we had a real serious talk.

As the family has grown (is growing), I've realized it is not an option to let everybody have their fun at my expense.

Hopefully, some of the summer lessons will stick. We'll see. Now, I'm about to go read the rest of the comments for more tips ;)