This mom shares how she got her child to be a neat freak.
Somehow, somewhere along the pathway of our life, I’ve raised a child who picks up after herself. I often get asked if there’s some parental magic I conjured up, or if I’m secretly bribing her behind the scenes. I’m not, for the record.
When I was a single parent
, it was a non-negotiable aspect of our life that domestic duties were shared. I’d cook, she’d pick up toys and somewhere in the middle we’d fold laundry together.
That aside, I think it’s time I reveal that there is a secret to why my kid cleans up after herself. I will confess that this happened by accident and I do feel guilt about letting her come to her own conclusions here. I’m being okay with that guilt, because it’s served a bigger purpose.
When she was much younger, a darling friend donated a whole bunch of books to us. Inbetween the charming stories of Victoria Plum, there lay a book that I think has saved my sanity.
Written by Steven Cosgrove, Bangalee
tells the story of a marvellous bunch of filthy creatures, aptly named the Kritters. Living in Kritter Castle, the Kritters are a messy bunch and the castle is left to ruin. But there is one Kritter, Bangalee, who is pedantic about cleaning – a seemingly thankless task in the face of his friends who think littering is a life path, not just a habit. One day, the Grunk appears on the horizon. The Grunk is a grumpy, green monster that eats anything left lying around on the floor. The Kritters are petrified that he will invade their castle and consume not only their junk, but their filthy selves too! Bangalee saves the day, however, by suggesting that they clean the castle and throw all the rubbish outside, for the Grunk to feast on. The Kritters go on to outlaw dirt, and have a good bath in their bright and shiny castle.
My daughter, captivated by this story, asked me soon after we read it if indeed the Grunk was real. I responded by asking if she thought he was. She looked at me, wide-eyed and said: “Mom, I think he’s real. That’s why I keep losing toys. He comes here when we’re not here and eats whatever I leave lying on the floor”.
Since then, we’ve never left the house in a mess
. If we’re on our way out the door in a hurry, you’ll find I am asked to phone the Grunk. My duty is to tell him not to eat her toys, and that she has been excused from cleaning due to time limitations. This has led to some hilarious conversations between my boyfriend and I, whereby he’s had to pretend to be some scary green monster, keen to sink his teeth into lost toys and building blocks. That said, 90% of the time – I don’t need to make the fake phonecall.
Now that she’s a little older, the Grunk doesn’t even bear mentioning. Her room is generally tidied up after playtime and she’s an avid fan of making sure the house is as clean as can be.
I’ll never be able to thank Mr Cosgrove enough for his magnificent story. He turned what could’ve been a parenting nightmare into a dream.
Do you have any secrets for getting your kids to tidy up?
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