Every evening the boys are responsible for helping to clean up the mess they've created during the day. And they do, but with a LOT of whining. "I can't do it! O's not helping!" etc, etc. It's fairly torturous for all of us and yet I do force the cleanup issue everyday because I think it's important for the boys to help out at least a little. It always goes more smoothly when we make a game out of it. In the past, I had great success with cleaning races. "Who can be the first to clean up 20 things?!" C, always very goal directed, would win handily, while I purposely lost count and kept dropping my items, and O ran around in circles, picking up only one or two things. There was no whining and the toys would usually get cleaned up fairly quickly. But lately, the charm of this game seems to have worn off. Suggesting a cleaning race is now met with "I don't want to. You just clean it up Mom."
Since the boys stopped napping this week, I've been much more exhausted than usual. I guess I really did need that downtime every afternoon! Last night I looked around at all the blocks and Legos everywhere and sighed. I just didn't have the energy to fight with the boys about cleaning, nor did I have the energy to clean it all up myself. And then, an idea flashed into my head!
I told C & O that if they cleaned up all the blocks and Legos, they would earn a clue to a treasure hunt. They cleaned up very quickly and then I sent them to the kitchen so I could lay a trail of 3 clues in the living room. I wasn't sure they would really understand the game, but they loved it. C read the clues aloud to O and then they both searched for the next clue. They had a great time following one clue to the next, and were thrilled once they eventually found the cookies I had hidden under their cowboy hats. After gobbling them down, they begged to play again. I told them they would have to choose another treasure to find since they couldn't have any more cookies, and they chose to search for their Lightning McQueen car. I sent them to the kitchen and sent up a new treasure hunt. When they returned, I handed C the first clue to start the hunt. He said "No Mom! What do I have to clean up to earn the clue?" (!!!!!!!!!) Apparently treasure hunt is only a cleaning game! So I found a few more things for them to clean up and then they completed the new hunt.
After that, C wanted to write the clues so O and I could hunt. I wasn't sure how that would go since, after all, C is only 4! Would he really know how to write out clues, or figure out that one clue had to lead to the next? He busied himself at his table and O and I waited eagerly. I was amused when he ruined one of the clues by asking "Mom, how do you spell computer?" When he announced he was done, I said "OK, give me the first clue." To which he replied, "NO MOM! You have to clean up something to earn the clue!! (This is the best game EVER!!!!!) So I put away a few loose toys that the boys had missed and O and I started on our hunt.
C's clues (painstakingly handwritten in all caps):
1) "I LOVE TO W"
C explained that this was supposed to be, "I love to watch" but he got distracted and forgot to write the rest of the word. I searched for a clue near the TV, but there was none. I was confused until he explained that he meant the show "Frances" and I realized the clue was in the book bin with his Frances book.
2) "IN THE IN"
(????) I asked C what this meant and he said "I don't know." Then he couldn't remember where he had hidden clue number 3 so the game paused for a bit while he searched and eventually found it on the desk. Still don't know what "IN THE IN" has to do with that!
3) "I LIKE MAPS"
I figured out that this meant his globe, where clue # 4 was hidden.
4) "LOOK IN COMPUTER"
Ah, at last the clue that I had helped him spell. Leading me directly to where a toy dolphin was hidden on the keyboard.
Not bad at all for a first attempt, in my opinion!
C and I played several more times after O went to bed, taking turns writing the clues and being the treasure hunter. And since cleaning up is the required first step of this game, by the end the floor was spotless. This morning they are already talking about hunting for treasure later. I hope this game holds their interest and makes cleaning up easier for a long time. Or at least until I can think of a new cleanup game!