This is a story about a mom. This is a story about a mom and a little boy. This is a story about a mom, a little boy, and the day that ALL of his toys were taken away.
I love my oldest son. My fun, silly, smart, and thoughtful son has many wonderful character traits that come naturally to him – but keeping his room clean is not one of them. Each day I sent him to straighten up the jumble of Lego, Hero Factory guys, game pieces, books, and stuffed animals, and each day he would clean a little – play a little. No real progress was made on his room. I tried threatening. I tried ignoring it. I tried to explain that if he didn’t take care of his things, it showed that he had too many toys.
Then, one fateful day, came the stepped on Lego felt ’round the world. I’d had it!
“I give you until Sunday at noon! If your room isn’t clean, I will take every single toy out of your room – and you will have to EARN it back!”
I knew that I should not make empty threats. I really do try to be consistent with our boys, but I really thought that my ultimatum would jump-start his ambition and that I would never have to even come close to making good on my promise. He casually worked at cleaning his room over the weekend, but he didn’t seem to be too worried about the possibility of consequences – so he let his time run out without a room that meets his mother’s general standard of tidiness.
At noon I casually strolled into his room, manhandled his toy box, and plunked it down in the garage. That’s when the poop doth hitteth the fan.
I went back to his room to scoop up armloads of Lego pieces – again, making a home for them in the garage.
His Kindle. His ipod. Books left here and there around the room. Stuffed animals – buh-bye. Every toy that was hiding under his bed. It was all G-O-N-E.
I calmly explained to my disbelieving 9 year old that he shouldn’t have any trouble keeping his space clean now that every toy that he owned was no longer being housed in his room. I laid down the rules for the coming month. By keeping what was left of his room clean, he could earn back his possessions one by one.
The first one that he requested to earn back into his room? His iPod. The boy loves his tunes!
Next came a Lego creation, and then another. Later, he went several days without single items in order to earn back his entire box of Lego pieces. He was getting the hang of it!
By the end of the month, he had earned back his entire room – but he learned that he had many toys that he did not miss during this required “fast” from possessions. He happily rounded up several bags of toys for a local charity, glad to give to kids who would enjoy playing this his toys, but also happy to have less in his room to tidy during chore time.
We’ve had a close call or two since then – but he really has shown improvement since earning back his toys. My heart’s desire is that our boys grow up to be responsible, grateful, generous, loyal, and hardworking men. I take my job as Mom to our three boys VERY seriously, and now they know that I’m not bluffing when it comes to my threats about their room. I may very well be the meanest mom in the whole world, but it’s a risk I’m willing to take!
~ Bottom photo courtesy of Joanne Funk
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