Sunday, April 25, 2010

Mud - The Compromise

Mud has officially become A Problem at our house.

I love mud. I love kids and mud. I think playing in mud is a perfectly healthy way to spend an afternoon. There are many times that I encourage my children to strip down to their skivvies and play in the mud.

And then, there are times when mud's just not appropriate. Like when we're going to a friend's house in ten minutes. Or when we have to drop the car off at the mechanic. Or when we need to run to the grocery store. Or any other time that Mom says, "Do NOT play in the mud right now."

Chloe struggles with that. There is some innate, magnetic force that draws her to the mud hole in the back yard. I sometimes think she tries to fight it, but simply can't. It's in her veins, this need for mud.

There's a big difference between my oldest and my youngest. The oldest is something of a tomboy. If there is mud in sight, it will take her ten minutes to be covered from head to toe, clothes ruined, hair plastered to her forehead. It is, in her mind, not at all possible to enjoy mud unless it is covering every inch of your body. The youngest is so different - she can spend all afternoon making mud pies (and cakes, and brownies, and smoothies) and have only a little splatter or two on her knees.

So anyway. I got really tired of fighting with Chloe about the mud. We did time outs. I grounded her from the outdoors. I yelled a bit. I lectured. I used words like "disobedient" and "responsible" and the ever-popular "Why can't you just listen to me?!" None of that worked. (Does lecturing ever work on a seven year old?) Every single time she set foot outside, she came back to the door covered in mud.

Today, I had an idea. I got down the weekly calendar that we keep posted on the fridge. On Monday and Wednesday afternoons I wrote "MUD". I showed it to her. Those are the two days each week that she is allowed to play in the mud freely, without having to worry about me being mad. Any other day of the week, I expect her to find some way to play where she stays (reasonably) clean.

Today was Sunday. Not a mud day. We spent four hours in the back yard this afternoon, and when I called the girls in for dinner, they were (for the first time in weeks) both clean.

If this still works in a week, I'll let you know. I'm hopeful. :o)


Just Me said...

That is a great idea! Hopefully it will help you have more days of semi-clean kids.

Wendy said...

oh yeah. Mud day sounds awesome!!!