"you guys," i say it calm first."we've got to keep working, let's keep cleaning, okay?"
they meander to a toy, pick up and play with it a bit before tossing it into it's labeled container.
"stop playing." my voice has irritation in it now, "we are not PLAYING, we're CLEANING."
i'm trying to remain calm and be kind, you know, my ONE goal for the day, but my blood starts boiling as i watch ian tackle ashton to the floor.
"MOMMY," my exasperated avery cries out, "they are NOT cleaning. i am doing ALL of the work."
and she's right, she methodically puts toys right where they go, there's kind of a rhythm to her work.
how can i get them to clean like her? i think to myself before i start spouting off jobs, mingling in a few nice threats to keep them on their toes.
"ian, here are all of your cars, you need to put them in the car bin." i wag my finger at him. "start doing it quicker or NO TREAT." i say with all of the intimidation i can muster.
"ashton, you are on dress up clothes duty. if you are going to insist on changing clothes approximately 1 million times per day than you have GOT TO HANG THEM BACK UP WHEN YOU ARE DONE! if you don't start hanging up these dress up clothes we are going to GIVE THEM AWAY!"
"everything is awesome" is on repeat in the back ground as we attempt to get the play room back to it's orderly state before lunch. it's always the same thing, a mix of yelling, avery doing most of the work, ashton and ian playing unless they are given specific jobs and around and around we go.
it's so tiring. i hate the play room being messy. i hate yelling. sometimes i want to send them outside to play and then just do it myself, but i want them to know how to clean, i want them to take the responsibility that comes with all of the playing and pretending done earlier that morning. i wish i could just utter the words "okay, time to clean the play room" and then they would just magically start quickly bringing order to the chaos with happy hearts and smiles on their faces.
and then i had an idea. well, actually, i'm pretty sure that the Holy Spirit whispered it to my soul and i'm so very glad that i happened to be listening.
"you guys, come get on ian's bed." i call them over with excitement in my voice. "it's time to start cleaning and do you guys remember what mommy NEVER wants to do while we're cleaning?"
"yell at us," they all say. they know me well. ;)
"today while we are cleaning, mommy is not allowed to talk. i cannot say one word."
a curious smile creeps across my three cuties faces.
"i am going to set the timer for 15 minutes and we have two rules. you guys have to clean and mommy cannot talk. if you guys clean for 15 minutes, working together with happy hearts, you get a treat. if mommy doesn't say one word for 15 minutes, i get a treat. deal?"
"deal." they think it's fun that mommy has a rule, too. :)
and wonders never cease because they cleaned and i didn't yell. i didn't even give one bit of instruction.
it was beautiful.
today, we did it again. this time ian was not on board. he did his dancing and playing while the girls gave him dirty looks and tidied away. i was SO tempted to remind him, but my rule is i can't talk. and when the timer went off i sent him to his bed and told him no treat after lunch.
my life is changed.