Saturday, March 30, 2013

Spring Cleaning

Trying to get kids to clean is always difficult.  We always recommend establishing a routine, providing positive reinforcement, and working with your kids so they feel connected as a family and not like a servant.  Breaking tasks up into smaller pieces.  Sometimes chore charts help. Whatever you do, try to keep it fun and not let it become a battle.  These discussions always make me think how much things have changed...

 "While you're there..."  My mother would begin to say.  These are the words that would always  make me cringe.  They were words associated with taking a routine cleaning task and making it into an in depth cleaning task. It didn't really matter what the routine task was originally, the add on task was often cleaning a window or vacuuming out an air vent.  As near as I could tell, the only requirement of "While you're there..." was that I be in the general vicinity of the 'add-on' task. Dusting the television top would soon become, "let's move the TV, dust behind it and you might as well clean that window while you're there."   I recall one time when  I was asked to take out the garbage. What followed was "While you're there, you can help your father in the garden."   My hopes for spending the afternoon watching the "Wide World of Sports" died on the spot. So much for not exasperating your children. Though a careful reading of that rule apparently applies to fathers, not mothers...go figure?

My mother wasn't an expert cleaner, though she seemed determined to make me one.  She was however, excellent at organizing.  She could organize all of my siblings, my father (no easy task there!), do in depth cleaning herself, find time to inspect our work and with impeccable timing, always sense when we were about to say good enough and interrupt it with "While you are there".   This was a process we repeated every Saturday.  Saturday's became a symphony that began with a fairly simple chore and progressed into a chorus of "While you are there's  accompanied by the 8 track recording of Henri Mancini's "Baby Elephant Walk" and resolving into Harper Valley PTA or Leapin Lee's "Little Arrows."    Around 5 pm or so the symphony would decrescendo into a routine of showers and supper  accompanied by Lawrence Welk, Wild Kingdom and climatically finish with Hee Haw.  I was never quite sure how cleaning always ended up being bed time but it always did.

A common difficulty for parents of kids with ADHD is to help their kids stay on task.  There are a few simple rules but the reality is that it is hard work for the parents to help ADHD kids develop self esteem and pride in their cleaning and organizing skills.   One piece of advice is to break the task down into simple steps.  A second piece of advice is to recognize that ADHD kids can get obsessed with minutiae that is interesting to them such as lining up their matchbox cars and then lose interest in cleaning by the time they get to picking up their laundry.  "But Mom I've been cleaning for hours" they will say, and the inevitable response follows,  "No you have been playing for hours."   Let's face it, you need to help them organize the task so they work big to little. Start with three big tasks 1) pick up all the clothes off the floor in your room, on the closet floor and under your bed and put them in the laundry.   2) Make your bed.   3) Put all the toys that are out into a box.  Once that is done  you can then start putting the toys away and organize them as much as  you want.