I just had a cunningly clever idea. I am so stunned that this thought never occurred to me that I’m kind of in shock. Ok, to back up a teensy bit, here’s some background:
When the kids misbehave badly they spend five-minutes in timeout. To be 100% honest, this is as much to remove them from the situation and give them some time to think as it is to give *me* time to calm down before dealing with whatever they have ruined, trashed, or destroyed. Because they can push my buttons like nobody’s business. Don’t even get me started on their rabid fascination with sneaking illegal and expressly forbidden water and sand mixtures into the house and spilling them every single time. Every Single Time. Without fail. Not even kidding. Drives me mad. (breathing, breathing…)
Anyhow, one of the girls snuck a contraband cup full of frothy sand, water, and dirt into the kitchen today, and, of course, spilled it. And in the middle of gritting out “Why?!!!!! Why do you do this?!!!!!” and breathing really deep so I would stay cool (since I lost it yesterday when they stealthily ran upstairs and covered the bathroom floor with wadded-up toilet paper, crayon, and water and then I felt terrible) suddenly, I thought of a better solution. Screw timeouts! Now, when one of the girls has been warned and still does something she KNOWS she’s not supposed to do (like wrapping her legs around her sister’s waist and pulling her off the monkey bars gladiator-style), she spends five minutes in clean-up time. I set the timer, point her at a mess (there is always a mess), and instead of sitting on her butt being bored/frustrated/annoyed, she cleans up for five minutes.
Ahhhhh, it’s a win win. A redirection of energy that just happens to benefit ME. Heh heh. Tried it today and it worked like a charm, by the way. Our playroom is now spic and span. I think I phrased it something like "If you have enough energy to schlep all that sand into the house when you know you're not allowed to bring it inside, you have enough energy to help out the family by cleaning." The girls are actually excited about it, little sweeties. We talked about how it would work, and Ree said “How about six minutes, mama, I can clean really fast if it’s six,” and Ro said “No, how about eight minutes, because I can do a whole room in eight minutes!”
Why haven’t I ever thought of this?! I almost can’t wait until the next twinrageous offense.