If you've been following, you'll know I have back issues at the moment (a bulging disc pinching the sciatic nerve). I'm not going to go on about it, because to be quite honest I am thoroughly fed up with the subject - but it has meant that for the last two or three weeks in particular I have been unable to do anything much except alternately laying flat and gently mooching about the house. This has meant that my doing the housework has been all but impossible, so I have had to enlist the boys help far more than usual.
Eldest has been an utter star. He loves his rewards and incentives, and we had some Star Wars collecting cards left over from when he asked for them to be used as rewards for completing his Maths Whizz & Reading Eggspress exercises. I really dislike using incentives for learning: I think it is counter-productive when trying to foster an enthusiasm for learning, so we ditched them as reward a while ago. Eldest found them the other day and asked if he could earn them any other way - i.e. by doing jobs over and above his usual job of unloading the dishwasher and keeping his bedroom tidy. Talk about perfect timing! Since then he has enthusiastically been folding up the freshly-laundered clothes, loading the dishwasher, making breakfast/ lunch for his brothers, feeding the wildlife, and other jobs. He is totally thrilled with his cards, and I am relieved to have an ally in the housework. He has also been utterly brilliant and reliable at helping with the hedgehogs every day since they first arrived, so please forgive this moment of Mummy bragging - I'm very proud of him!
Middle and Youngest have been less desirous to help - they have been very sweet about helping when asked, but they are not motivated by incentives, and understandably just want to play if left to their own devices. Today though it was time to tackle their shared bedroom - it was a total nightmare and just had to be done. I knew they wouldn't be able to cope without supervision, but I was unable to do much by way of practical help, so I lay on one of the beds and came up with games to try to make it more fun for them and help them to stay focused on the task. First we had the bulldozer game, pushing all the mess into piles. Then we saw how many pieces of any particular toy (lego/ knex/ marble run etc) they could fit in their hands at a time, to carry to the box. The last game that they loved, and saw them through to completion, was me calling out a couple items that I could see amidst the mess, and they had to find them and put them away before I called out the next couple of items.
Usually I don't have the patience for games like that - normally I help them sort things into more manageable piles for them to tidy away, and that takes much less time. Today it took a good couple of hours to finish their room without me helping practically, but necessity being the mother of invention meant that we managed to find a way for the boys to do the whole mess themselves, and without much complaining too - hooray!