Thursday, January 21, 2010

Play Room Cleanup: Mary Poppins Style, Yo!

You know what our girl Mary always says: "Just a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down."

Well true dat, Mary P.

Teaching Bennett to clean up his toys has been a struggle. He just hates to clean up. I've tried everything from time-outs, to losing toys, to sticker charts, but we always end up with the same result: a whiny boy, a messy playroom and a frustrated Mama.

So a few weeks ago I decided to take a page from Mary's book and turn clean-up time into a game. And amazingly, it really works!

Here is the bizarre, unorthodox, slightly disturbing game I invented. For some reason, my quirky, funny, creative boy just loves it.

When it's cleanup time, I run into to the play room with a scared look on my face.

Me: "Bennett, Oh No!"

Bennett: "Whatsa matter, Mama?"

Me: "Captain Hook is on his way here to steal all our toys! The only way we can keep him from getting our toys is by putting them away where they go. Come on!"

Bennett: "Hurry! Hurry! Don't let him get my dinosaurs!"

At this point, Bennett starts manically putting away toys while I go set a timer, telling him that Captain Hook should be here in 10 minutes and we need to get all the toys away before the timer dings. We keep telling each other, "Hurry! Hurry!" or "I've got the cars, you get the books!" or my personal-favorite Bennett quote, "Captain Hook's not getting this toy... No Way, Jose!"

Okay, at this point you are probably saying to yourself, "What kind of mother scares her child into cleaning up toys, telling him that an evil villain will steal them all away if he doesn't comply?"

My reply to you nay-sayers is simple: "The kind of mother that wants a clean playroom, that's who!"
Seriously, though, Bennett isn't scared at all. He knows we are just playing pretend, and he thinks Captain Hook is funny, not scary.

Anyway, we are usually just finishing up putting the last few toys away when the timer dings. At this point, I go call out the front door:

"Captain Hook, you can just turn around and go home. All our toys are put away
and you can't have them. You might as well just get back on your ship and sail
Bennett is usually standing behind me with his pirate sword ready to defend our newly clean playroom if need be. But amazingly, Captain Hook usually just goes home without a word. And we go back to our nice, clean playroom with smiles on our faces.

So thank you, Mary Poppins, for the reminder that work doesn't feel like work when you make it fun.


  1. Case ... that is priceless! You are so creative. That is also a Tom Sawyerlike solution

  2. Your dad is so literary. :)

    This solution works great for Bennett and then scares the living daylights out of other kids--haha!

  3. I think this is great Case! So cute and fun, however, the boys in our church have convinced Ella that dinosaurs and monsters are going to come and take her things, so I don't think we will be introducing pirates into the equation anytime soon :-)

  4. You are so good... I think that we might have captain hook visit our house eventually...=)

  5. oh, i love this! i could picture the whole scene the entire time i read this. i love bennett's enthusiasm and expressions. good job, mama!