written by Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama
This post is the last part of a three peace series about creating a harmonious home through the use of toys. Read about picking toys and creating play spaces around your home in the previous posts.
Children hate having their play interrupted and who can blame them? No matter how young a child is, if he or she is contentedly playing with a beloved toy, the idea of parting with it to do something mom or dad has in mind is not going to go over well. Tears, protests, and tantrums are a likely outcome. Clean up time will also elicit a similar response. So how can one peacefully parent in this situation?
I do not think that there is a catch-all method to move your child out of their realm of play but I have incorporated a few methods that seem to help ease the pain of the transition to a new activity (i.e. meal time, bath time, errand running time, etc…). First, I have made up several little jingles that I sing predicating the next activity. They are silly little songs that signal a transition. For example, when I have to disrupt my toddler’s play so that I can take her to get the mail, I sing “mail man, mail man, delivering mail like nobody else can! I wonder what, he brought today, let’s go outside and see hooray!” Totally lame rhyme right? Not to my daughter! For her, it is a consistent signal that we are going to go check the mail and after repeatedly using this method my daughter now jumps right up, grabs the mailbox key, and stands at the door. This has also worked with other rhymes for other activities I need to transition her to. Keep in mind that it took a couple of weeks before she made the connection between the rhyme and what we were about to do.
There are certainly days where my clean up time approach is not working. So guess what – I stop, grab my daughter in a bear hug, give her a little snuggle or tickle to lighten the mood, then physically move her off to bathtime, bedtime, or whatever comes after clean up time. I leave the mess for after she goes to bed. In my opinion, there is no reason to A) force a child to help clean up; B) clean up in front of a child who is having a nervous breakdown over it; C) discipline a child for not helping clean up; D) making a battle over something that eventually the child will earn to do by watching and imitating your methods. Consistent clean up times, consistent clean up routines and methods, and a calm, peaceful approach to any meltdowns will establish a good rhythm around clean up time that your child will embrace more often than not. It takes time and patience but it has worked for my daughter and I.
Remember mamas – you set the tone in your household. Center yourself, do not assume everything will be a battle, and model the behavior you want your child to learn. Eventually, you will find yourself working side by side with your child during clean up time! And you will both be smiling and enjoying the process!
Yours in Peace, Love, and Mothering,
About Hybrid Rasta Mama
Jennifer is a former government recruiter turned stay-at-home mama to a precious daughter brought earthside in early 2009. She believes in the importance of having a strong network of support. She's been active both in my local La Leche League and Attachment Parenting chapters. She's a mentor and contributing blogger with the Natural Parents Network and a contributor on Job Description: Mommy.
Why Hybrid Rasta Mama? I take a little of this and a little of that and blend it all together into something that works for me, my daughter, and my husband. I am a voracious reader and researcher and have read an extensive amount of literature about parenting. I consider myself very well informed about the pros and cons of all the different philosophies and approaches out there. Read more on my blog Hybrid Rasta Mama. You can also find me on Facebook. .