Tuesday, May 20, 2008

You're Welcome Here

Our house was built long before the concept of a mud room came about. Or, maybe that's a very old idea, but at any rate, we don't have one. We and any who enter our house come in through the front door, and there's no place to hide the coats, jackets, shoes, hats, mittens, backpacks, keys, mail, or anything else you may have in hand.

Years ago, we purchased this little shoe cubby thing, and a handy shelf with hooks that hangs above it. It is the first thing to welcome you into our home. Because the hooks are too tall for young ones, we hung a row of pegs over on the other side of the entry, for the kids to hang their coats on. I have tried to provide a place for the things, and a system for my kids to follow when they walk in the door. Shoes in a cubby, hats, mittens (when they're in need) and backpacks in the basket or on a tall hook, depending on who you are and how tall you are. I have clearly verbalized my intentions--at least a thousand times. I would like us to welcome folks with a doorway they can actually walk through, not a pile of whatever everyone had on them or in their hands when they walked in.

You know that definition of insanity, "to repeat the same actions and yet expect a different result..." It's funny here in the land of momming. You just kind of keep doing things, or saying things, over and over again, not realizing how it's draining the life right out of you and your relationships. I don't want the bulk of my conversations with my kids to be about picking up their stuff, or cleaning up, or the condition of the house at all. I want us all to have the same attitude, that this house of ours is a nice place to be, and we all need to do our part to keep it that way. I don't want to have the kind of relationship with my family where I'm like the clean-house Police. I'd like to spend my time talking to my kids about things much more interesting than the house...like how their day went, their friends, their dreams and frustrations. And I have verbalized this expectation as well.

But it occurred to me last night that I remind two of my children in particular to pick up their junk DAILY, if not SEVERAL times a day. I just realized yesterday that I keep saying it, and expecting a different result. So, we're making a change round these parts!! Apparently, they don't mind hearing the same things come out of my mouth day after day. I need to give them a little incentive to notice the debris themselves and not be reminded by me. Ah Hah!

I announced the new plan this morning. I decided that the real cause of the problem is hurrying in and out of the door. Being in a big rush to play with someone outside, or do the next thing, whatever that may be. So starting today, if I have to remind you to hang/pick up your stuff, you will spend 10 minutes doing nothing on the couch. Luke was aghast. "TEN MINUTES!?!" "Doing NOTHING??!" You got it baby. He decided that yeah, it would only take about 5 seconds to put everything in its place properly, and that wouldn't be costly. But those 10 minutes could be tragic. Hee hee.

And what about me spending a few minutes quietly in meditation with God? "TEN MINUTES?!?"
I love the way God teaches me through this job He's given me.


Anonymous said...

I think that is a fantastic idea. 10 minutes of doing nothing would have killed me as a kid. Now, however, the idea of 10 minutes of doing nothing sounds awfully appealing. Maybe I ought to sentence myself to that punishment. I am certain that I kicked my shoes off in the kitchen like I do every night until there are 3-4 pairs that I am tripping over. Yup - I will put the shoes away and have a time-out.


--julie said...

Ah yes, that was Scott's first response to this post..."Do I get to sit for 10 minutes and do nothing?"

But I reminded him that he would hate it, too. If there was no reading material, that would be a long time to for him to sit. Though, he'd probably start reading the collar of his shirt, or the bottom of his shoe (the one on his foot, not the one that was tripped over...)

I'm happy to say that so far (only 2 days) just the threat of the 10 minutes has been enough incentive to help Lily and Luke remember where to put their belongings. Yipee!