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Quick Wisdom from To Love, Honor and Vacuum

Are you frustrated by the fact that your home is out of control, and no one else seems to want to help get it back into control? Has life become chaotic, and you feel like you bear that burden alone?

That's the life of most women these days. And I don't think it should be! My philosphy in my book To Love, Honor and Vacuum--and in this To Love, Honor and Vacuum blog--is that everybody should grow closer to God, and that means that everybody should learn to show love, should bear their own load, and should be responsible.

Including your kids.

So how do you do that? You can yell, which doesn't work, or you can institute conseqeunces. Sometimes, though, consequences are difficult to figure out. And it's hard to be consistent. I thought today I'd publish one of the consequence ideas I had in my book, and then ask you to add your own!

Don't Pick Up Things Off of the Floor

Rationale: Picking up toys and clothes that family emmbers leave lying around in common areas (not bedrooms if this is agreed upon) teaches them that others will step in when they are irresponsible.

Consequence: Some families have a "jubilee" basket, similar to the jubilee in the Old Testament, where all land is returned to its original owner after a set time. In the same way, after children leave for school in the morning, or after they begin work (if they're homeschooled), or go out to play, you pick up everything left in common areas and leave it in a basket in a closet. You can return them on Sunday, or the owner can redeem them prior to that for a dime or a quarter or whatever you think is appropriate.

On occasion, our family has had to do something more drastic. After repeatedly asking the kids to clean the playroom, or their bedroom, to no avail, we've hauled out the garbage bags and filled them with toys for the Salvation Army. If they had too many toys to keep tidy, then some had to do! Sometimes the kids helped us weed through, and other times they wailed on the sidelines as we confiscated stuffed animals they hadn't looked at twice in two years. But when there are fewer toys, it's much easier to clean up, and children are less likely to be overwhelmed by the task.

The jubilee system is one of those things that doesn't need to be used very long. It puts fear into children, and pretty soon they stop leaving stuff around!

What do you do for consequence based discipline in your home? Leave a comment, and share it with us!

And don't forget to check out To Love, Honor and Vacuum! Get an autographed copy from me here, or order from Amazon!


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At 8:36 AM , Blogger Brooke McGlothlin said…

Thanks Sheila! We've recently begun instituting this method as well. My boys are very young and I want to teach them now to clean up after themselves (something I struggled with...ok struggle with). So we have a rule that when mommy or daddy say Clean up time, anything that is left on the floor gets thrown away. Similar reasonings...if you love your toys and view them as gifts from God you should desire to take care of them.


At 9:38 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

Sheila, We utilized this system when out children were younger and it worked fairly well for us. The kids and I were talking about it just the other day. They remembered that by the end of the week, all the shoes would be in the basket. They never wanted to pay their quarter to get them back. They would rather go to church barefoot!


At 12:06 PM , Blogger Herding Grasshoppers said…


(I spelled it right this time!)

You're so right about keeping the amount of toys at a reasonable level. It goes along with training our kids to love people, not things. Fortunately my boys are pretty good about letting go of things... but not always so good about picking up.

We've done a similar thing to your Jubilee basket with their Legos - the biggest "offender" as far as not getting picked up.

It got to the point once, where we actually had a Lego "fast" for a few weeks, and they weren't allowed to play with them at all. (Of course, it was coming into summer, so admittedly my motivation was mixed!)

One of my boys has an off-and-on habit of stashing his dirty laundry, rather than putting it in the basket. After a couple of warnings I told him I'd be charging him each time I picked up his dirty laundry. (He's 13.) A buck an item. Maid service isn't cheap in this house!



At 3:06 PM , Blogger Sheila said…

Julie--LEGOS??? Ouch! I can just imagine stepping on those with bare feet! That's as bad as Polly Pockets!

And at 13, I'd charge a buck an item, too! May as well learn early that Mom is not maid!

Brooke--good for you, teaching your kids so young! If more people did that, we'd have far less juvenile delinquency and far more responsible adults!

Vvdenman: That's funny! I have a daughter who'd be perfectly willing to go to church barefoot, too. I think what I'd do is confiscate ONE shoe and then tell them they must wear the other one. That would motivate them to redeem the missing one!


At 4:35 PM , Blogger Lauren said…

Just stopping by to say congratulations on being one of the top 100 christian women blogs of 2009!!! I can totally see why!! :) So nice to meet you!


At 9:19 PM , Blogger Lara said…

I'm trying to figure out if I like the method of "putting fear in children" just to get them to pick up their toys. I sometimes feel like my husband says, "I'm going to throw all the toys away that aren't picked up" all too often.
I find that setting a timer (especially for younger ones) works well. And I will withhold a special game or treat that they want until they complete the task I've asked them to do.
I suppose it's all a process!


At 9:28 PM , Blogger Sheila said…

Lara, I hear you.

In the book, I also mention the kitchen timer idea! You can make it fun to clean up, and that definitely works.

But there are times when things get out of control, and you do need to take charge. I hope most mothers don't mind the occasional toy lying around, but when it becomes chronic, and kids just don't clean up, that's a problem.

You're right, though, it is a balance between adult direction and adult participation with the kids. I think there needs to be both.

(And constantly threatening to throw the toys away doesn't work! Kids know you don't mean it!)


At 9:32 PM , Blogger Sheila said…

Whoops! Hit send too soon!

We have thrown toys away, but it's been only a few times. Often people yell about it far too often and the threat isn't real. Parents are just frustrated, and threatening something huge without following through backfires.

I do think, though, that there is a place for fear in parenting. It isn't all the time; it's only for kids who are chronically doing something wrong. We are, after all, parents, and children should fear the consequences of disobedience. So I would say teach them to clean when they're young. Clean with them, make it a habit, and make it a game. But at some point they have to be responsible, and if they refuse, then I think more drastic measures are called for!

And the neat thing about drastic measures: they don't last very long. Kids get the picture really fast and often change their behaviour quite substantially in a relatively short period of time.


At 7:21 AM , Blogger Tiffany said…

My dad used to tell my nephews that if they did not pick up their toys before they left their house, Grandpa would put them away in the attic. It only took one time for most of their toys to disappear for them to learn the lesson. The toys would come back after a while, but still, the rest were cleaned up before they left!

I like the idea of the jubilee basket! I will have to remember that when my son gets a little older.


At 7:42 PM , Blogger Herding Grasshoppers said…

Regarding fear...

I don't want my children to fear the consequences of making a mistake. Kids forget to pick up, forget to wash their hands, forget to say "please", etc.

But some fear is a healthy thing. Keeps us out of all kinds of trouble.

My kids ought to have a healthy fear of the consequences that will occur when they defy us, or deliberately disobey.

My two cents,


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About Me

Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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