So today I decided to set seven (yes, seven) alarms on my phone. A pleasant little ‘boing’ sound every waking hour or so now signals that it’s time to do a quick tidy. When we hear the ‘boing,’ Big M tidies up and puts a few things away and Mommy tidies up and puts a few things away. This morning, we even had ‘P’, the little neighbour girl, tidying up when the alarm sounded.
So this is only day one of this little experiment, but both girls are now in bed, and as I look around, I am not haunted with heaps of toys, activities, and other whatnot to put away. The house is relatively tidy, and, yes, I find a bit of satisfaction in that. But what I am more proud of I think is my attempt to instill some important life lessons in Big M today … being responsible, taking care of our things, finishing what we start, picking up after ourselves, pitching in, and helping others. No, this isn’t my first attempt to do so, and I am quite certain this won’t be my last. I plan to use this method every day (at least for a little while, until good “tidying” habits develop). There will be exceptions of course, but I like the idea of using this method even when we are out and about … at playgroup, at Great-Grandma’s, or at a friend’s house.
To me, it is really amazing how after the first couple of ‘boings,’ Big M caught on and seemed to be looking around for what she could put away. Today, I gave quite a bit of guidance (and lots of choices) in terms of the things she should/could put away at that time. As time goes on, I will attempt to give her more autonomy and allow her to make her own decisions about what to put away each time the alarm sounds.
The beauty of using this alarm method is that the sound does the talking, not me, and therefore, there’s less resistance (it seems). The alarm is a good reminder for me too and helps me to be consistent (which is soooo important when it comes to child rearing I think).
Perhaps I selected this method because of how well it has worked for me in other circumstances. For example, when I (or my husband) TELL Big M it’s time to shut the television off (rather than using an alarm or timer), she whines and complains (and maybe even throws the odd fit). If I set a timer (and I usually do), the crickets sound, and Big M jumps off the couch to shut the television off. No questions asked. No resistance. She just marches over, shuts it off, and moves onto the next thing in her life. The same goes for if it’s time to come upstairs, come in from outside, or leave somewhere … really anytime I need her to do something she really doesn’t want to, the “sound,” whether it’s the crickets, a duck, a motorcycle, or the bell tower, works perfectly.