I Ground My Kids Because I Love Them

My kids are all grounded today, meaning they can’t play with friends or use any electronic devices. They are stuck at home without TV, phone, video games, or computer because they did not complete their assigned chores on time yesterday.

I have a rule now that no room should get messier than what 15 minutes of cleaning can take care of. I do not demand perfection at all times, creativity can sure get messy, but my oh my do they turn into piggies if I don’t monitor. So once in a while I set a timer, and tell them all to work together to get a room back in order, and if it isn’t better after 15 min, then they each get grounded. This helps them realize they can’t get everything out at once, if you use tape and glue, put them away as soon you are done, if you build a blanket fort, they have to get folded or put back on the bed before getting out something else to do.

Yesterday my living room was a disaster. I had started sorting socks on the couch, and someone bounced them all off onto the floor and in between the couch cushions when I left them unattended. They had Easter candy wrappers absolutely everywhere. Blankets were on the floor and every surface. Dirty socks were mixed into the clean ones now. Backpacks were lying upside down, with the contents half in and half strewn about the room. Shoes were in and under the blankets. Snack bowls were stuffed in between couch cushions. It looked more like the aftermath of a college frat party, just missing the red solo cups and mislaid undergarments.

I asked them to tidy it up. Nothing happened.

I turned off the TV and asked them to tidy it up. Nothing happened.

I stood with hands on my hips and said get going now – They started wrestling on top of the mess.

I set the timer for 15 min and set go! They knew I was serious now and got to work.

I also help them during the 15 min, by picking up items myself and by giving them directions like I see a mashed up cracker over there that needs vacuumed, or that book needs to go in your backpack. When the timer went off, the room was mostly better, but a sticky lollipop stick was still on the floor and a few others things. And so they are all grounded today. If more had been overlooked, more days would have been added. I tell them the garbage should not have been on the floor in the first place, so if they leave so much that it takes longer than 15 min to clean up, that is a huge problem.

Are my children miserable or angry today? Not at all. They are happy, singing, playing together, creating lego universes and cardboard rockets. How could this be?

Because I ground my kids because I love them – and they know it. When I set limits and keep my word, when I use my authority to teach them responsibility, when I teach them to work together to make our home a nicer place – everything is right in their world.

  • If I threatened to ground them and then didn’t – They would think my word means nothing.
  • If I didn’t care how our house looked – they would think I didn’t care about them either.
  • If I didn’t teach  them to be responsible – how will they ever learn?
  • If I withdrew my love or used cruelty, if I didn’t give them a chance to right their wrong, if I didn’t guide them – they would feel unsure of themselves, feel they could never do anything right, and learn to stop trying or try to be perfect.

I have never been grounded, in my entire childhood. I never had a curfew. I never had assigned chores. I never had consequences that fit the wrongdoing. I never had anyone show me how to tidy up, it was expected to be perfect at all times or I would be worthless and unloved, or maybe have a pet taken away or hurt. Nothing was right in my world. I felt like I was put in charge and expected to know what grownups knew – and then harshly punished for mistakes –  but mistakes were never clearly defined and could differ from day to day. I felt anxious ALL of the time, never knowing if I was doing anything right. No one to help me make decisions.

Well, I am grown up now. I am starting to feel like I am in charge, and some of the anxiety is slipping away as I continue to grow stronger and trust myself. Just in time to give true leadership to my children who will need me to show them the way more and more each year.

I am listening to them right now, chatting to each other, using their imaginations, happy and content. My girl is singing songs from her choir quietly to herself while she builds. The boys are busy creating the ‘rules’ of their own kingdom, how the magic powers work when you touch the red lego or enter the green doorway. And that the toilet takes 6.1 gigawatts of power to flush so they need to install power generators.  (remember we watched back to the future a week or so ago?) I asked why so much power is needed, they send the waste is transmitted to a different time, take that dinosaurs!

I love my family and I take my job as Mom very seriously. (Yes sometimes I want out, because sometimes I don’t think I am enough for them) I am honored to be able to guide these amazing kiddos and so happy that everything is right in their world. I pray for strength to continue to guide them, and acceptance of my own mistakes as I do. But my mistakes are made out of love, never cruelty, so I know we’ll be ok.

(I just heard one say we better see what chores we have to do today so we don’t get grounded tomorrow too. YES! Lesson learned!)  Today is laundry. The younger ones get all the stray laundry from the floor into the baskets. Oldest carries the dirty laundry to the basement. I run a few loads. We all sort it in the living room, and then each kiddo takes their own clothes to their own dresser. That way they know where everything is in the morning and I don’t have to do it all myself. The whole things takes a few hours as we wait for it to wash and dry, but only about 5-10 minutes for each step.



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