Two experiments

Confession: I’ve been meaning to organize the closets and corners of my house for weeks and weeks now. I kept scheduling it in my planner and it kept getting bumped. This couldn’t possibly be my fault… surely someone else is to blame?

With the holidays approaching and a schedule that is unrelenting, I decided to give my house an organizing once-over today and call it good.

Here were my guidelines:

  • Set a timer and spend 15 minutes per room
  • Ask “What drives me nuts here?” and work only on that
  • Keep three containers handy for
    • Trash
    • Donations
    • Items to mend or put away elsewhere
  • Keep a clipboard handy for notes: what clothing is needed, what tasks to return to later

It worked pretty well.

Except the fifteen minutes.

By then I was just getting started…! Sigh. But some rooms took only five, and so it evened out okay. I managed a serious overhaul in some trouble spots: my pantry, my hallway, and my daughter’s bedroom. I have two or three rooms to finish up tomorrow, and I feel quite happy about this.


In other news…

We have some major sibling rivalry going on in our house. Son #2 is full of ire toward his little sister. She cannot do anything right; she is small and stupid; she doesn’t even know the words to that song!

I could try to put a light spin on this and make you think I’m laughing, but I actually feel very worried and discouraged about it. We have instructed and disciplined and praised and interceded to no avail.

We are trying one thing, remembering it was a helpful analogy for him a year ago, with a school friend he was scornful and jealous of—the same one who is now his best friend! We told him a relationship is like a tree, and must be tended… that harsh words and bad attitudes are like pouring salt on the tree and snipping its leaves… that kind actions, gentle words, and a giving heart are like the rain, the sun and the fertilizer that make the tree grow. We made him a poster to illustrate this. When he is unkind to her, he must hang a withered leaf on the tree. When he is kind, he may hang a green leaf or pluck off a withered one.

regan's tree

He grumbled the whole time we cut out leaves together, but as soon as the poster hung on the fridge he was smiling and ran off to invite his sister to a peaceable game of Life.

We shall see… It seems such a small thread, but I don’t know what else to do.

How did you train your children to love each other?

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Kendra Sensenig
9 years ago

Well, I was once the scornful big sister. I despised my little brother. He was small and dirty and just… NASTY. I seriously loathed having any physical contact (or any other sort of interaction) with him. We bickered constantly. Someone told my worried mother it would be okay. That someday we would be friends. So she stuck with us, working it out any way she could. I remember once being compelled to make him a card. I was sick to my stomach the whole time I was working on it, but, hot dog, I did it. As soon as I presented it to him, I ran to my room in tears. It was all so humiliating and horrid!

I’m not sure exactly when or how, but at some point it was over. Gradually, we learned to get along. To be friends even. I came to look up to my little bother. Goodness, the kid was actually rather handsome! And smart! My little brother is now a man whom I love and respect deeply.

I’m not sure that there’s a magic formula. Do what you can, but don’t tear your hair if it takes a while. He’ll grow up one day, and I bet it won’t be too many years before he wants to be that little girl’s knight. 🙂

9 years ago

Wow! This story gives me a whole lot of hope. Thanks so much, Kendra.

9 years ago

That bickering thing sounds so familiar! Sometimes they are all getting along so nicely, and next thing you know fighting. I don’t really have any ideas on that. Sorry 🙂 We just keep encouraging and disciplining and hope they grow up into loving human beings 🙂

mom coblentz
9 years ago

No words of wisdom here… just one suggestion… for punishment, one or the other could be sent off to grandma’s house…
And, that little blue-eyed smiling face doesn’t look like it could ever be bad. But I know better. 😉
Hang tight… You’re an awesome mother with great ideas and training IS happening even when it’s slow.
Love the tree plan.

9 years ago
Reply to  mom coblentz

Oh I love that punishment!

9 years ago
Reply to  mom coblentz

This would have to be a reward for good behavior at my house otherwise my kids would be acting like terrors in an effort to get to be the one to go to grandma’s house.

Brenda Troyer
9 years ago

I love the tree idea and it looks like he does too.

9 years ago

That sounds like a great idea… and one that could maybe work for other issues! You’re doing a good job — keep it up!
God bless y’all in this.

9 years ago

We need to do this tree thing at our house. My oldest two are fighting even as I type.

I also need to put your cleaning advice to practice. Oh dear. O dear.

9 years ago

Love the organizing idea. I have a way of procrastinating until I find hours of free time – which never ever happens.

And I need help with sibling fights too. The tree idea is a great one. But I may need a line up of more than one tree.

9 years ago
Reply to  Gina

you should see our line up, Gina!!! Our living room looks like a forest.

9 years ago

I get the organizing. I am working on that right now too. And as I spend time in one room, another room falls apart. Lol.

9 years ago

I tried to leave a comment but this comment box thinks it’s too long and keeps hiding the “Post Comment” button when I have it all in the comment box. So leaving this short comment, and part of the comment, and if that shorter amount works, I will post the rest as a second comment.

I will tell you a little story about my oldest two. They loved each other, but man could they have “issues” with each other. For years. No matter what we said or did. At times I almost completely was ready to give up . . . Fast forward to when the oldest was 17 or so and the younger one was about 14. He was ragging on her unmercifully. (See next comment for rest of story)

9 years ago

And she suddenly had all she could take. In a move worthy of a well trained martial arts master, she went suddenly airborne, with her long skirts flying,and her foot flashed out, landed flat smack on the 17 year old’s chest while her body was in the air, and thumped him in the solar plexus. He went down like a tree, and lay gaping up at her from his prone position.

9 years ago

She landed back down on her feet on the floor, stood glaring at him, then suddenly, burst into laughter and offered him her hand. He came up with respect in his eyes, they shared a laugh about it, and they have been peaceable friends ever since. He is now only a few short hours away from 22 and she is fast headed to 19.

Wendy W.
9 years ago

Good job! Stick with them, pray often for patience and wisdom! It looks like God is giving it to you!
Sometimes we have these intense rivalries, and I can’t think of anything we’ve done, right now, but what will amaze me is how after awhile, the two are having a great time, cooking something up together. Some personalities certainly just clash more, but we tell them how God has put them in the exact place in life that He has for a purpose. (Yup, these parents, and that sibling!) And how, when they learn to crucify their self now, it will help them so much in the future with the many people that they will interact with.

9 years ago

My four children are now between 12 and 20, and what a blessing it is to see the strong and beautiful friendships they’ve developed between them. When they spend time with other families who’s children don’t get along, they feel dismayed and sad for what they’re missing out on. But when they were small, oh my! What troubles they had putting up with one another’s faults and foibles =D
I made a rule that when they had a complaint about each other, they had to word it in a way that they themselves would want to hear it about themselves. Furthermore, they had to think of something positive about the person to go along with the complaint. Often they ended up not wanting to complain about someone they had just remembered something quite nice about. lol

9 years ago

I love the picture of the tree!!! How true the proverb – words can give life!!!! Thanks for blessing my heart today, even in your trial.

9 years ago

I love the tree idea. What works the most so far at our home is sending them to a room by themselves if they can’t get along together. The other thing we do is to put a vinegar rag on their mouth if they say an unkind word to each other, and think of 5 nice things to say to them. I too get so frustrated with being a referee, and worried that they will never get along. But it was a blessing the other day to here my 3 year old daughter say to her brother, “Marcus, you are my best friend.” — LaDonna

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