We had a family meeting Friday night to discuss what had come to light and the heart issues behind the problem (root vs. fruit for those of you who speak Christianese). The idea we wanted to plant in their minds is that, whereas people are a LOT more important than things, we need to take care of the things that God has given us because the money we get to buy the stuff comes from Him anyway. He provides daddy's job which gives us the money to give them allowance so that they can buy things. Everything belongs to Him and we are going to be held accountable for all the gifts He has given us.
I need to make two clarifications from my previous post. First of all, the children supposed to be cleaning their disaster area just simply played and talked instead of doing their work. The stuff that was in hiding places never moved. I originally thought that they simply moved things from one hiding place to another. In some ways, this bit of news was a relief. Before the meeting, Eric brought to my attention that I might have given the impression in my blog that we were going to get rid of a LOT of stuff that they hadn't put away. Initially, that was my intent with the clothing f and toys in general. However, I had a change of strategy late Thursday to just put the treasures and clothes in bins to be stored in our room for an undetermined period of time, simply because there were too many things that I couldn't give away and too many clothes that had been scattered in every corner. As the number of bins started accumulating, I realized that in order to prevent my room from becoming a disaster area, I needed to do some purging and re-organizing of my own. I picked up a book I had acquired at one time about organizing your house and read enough to be able to get my closet layout to work for us for both the short and long term. It took about three hours to accomplish this. I even had plenty of space to hold all of of my kids' bins of stuff.
At the family meeting Eric and I laid out the consequences of the past few days:
- This would be the LAST time I would pick up for the children. From now on, they stay in their room until a parental unit determines that the room is acceptably clean. Extracurricular activities will be missed if they are not quick enough. Bathroom breaks and time to eat will be allowed if either they decide to put off cleaning up or (shudder) a bedroom turns into another disaster, though I hope it never will.
- The room layout will change to make it more difficult to hide things. This has already been implemented.
- The children who have created the problem will be responsible for only their clothes until they have spent at least a month proving that they know how to care for and treasure their clothes.
- Other things, likes books, crafts, and treasures, will be returned slowly, to give them time to learn how to take care of them.
- Allowance is put on hold for the offenders until they prove that they can take care of the things that they currently have.
- We will, as a family, spend the next month or so going through each room and organizing it.
Here are some statistics on the results of cleaning:
- One bag of clothes and assorted items, four games, and a few toys were given to a fundraising garage sale.
- One bag of clothes and three bags of "rags" went to Goodwill from my room.
- The recycling bin was filled to capacity and a little beyond this week, though a change in pick-up schedule might have also contributed.
- 7 bags of garbage were filled, one from my room, one from another bedroom and the rest from the "extreme makeover" room.
- We found four pairs of missing scissors, two flashlights, enough crayons to fill at least a 24-piece box, roughly 20 pens and pencils and a few other "missing" items.