Thursday, November 11, 2010

Social Psychology Experiment #2

Long-time readers may remember the Matronly feature, What Fell Friday, in which the Matron noticed an item on the floor (several, actually) and refused to pick up said item(s). One coke can in particular languished IN THE LIVING ROOM for seven weeks.

The living room, people. This empty can must have had 1,000 opportunities for someone (other than yours truly) to notice it, pick up, and recycle.

The coke can finally landed in the garbage after her mother-in-law came to stay with the children.

Grandma, within thirty seconds of walking in the front door: "What's this coke can doing on the floor?"

And she promptly picked it up.

The Matron is taking this experiment a little further, based on a series of observations over the past week.

He Who Cannot Be Named (HWCBN) has cereal, with milk, for breakfast. Cereal box and milk are left on the counter.

Scarlett makes eggs for lunch (because she is now being home schooled and has ample opportunity to be by the Matron's side every moment of the day). The egg carton? Left on the counter.

John makes Merrick's lunch. He leaves knife, old water bottle and crackers on the counter in the kitchen.

Family has dinner in front of the TV, watching Glee. Some communal effort of cleaning up is made but in the end, the Matron goes into the family room and picks up the glasses and napkins left behind. The puppy eats any forgotten food so she doesn't have to worry about that.

Merrick unhappily plunges through homework, leaving behind a pile of papers and pencils when he's done. Now, how does that material get into the homework folder and backpack in order to make its way to school?

Social Psychology Experiment #2: the Matron is not going to put anything away. If the milk is on the counter . . well, after about eight hours, ugh. Homework in plain view of the sixty pound blood hound puppy who eats everything (including the mail, well trained by Satan's Familiar)? Too bad. Cereal, eggs, books, laundry left laying around? Hmmm. . . . this is a big house. There's plenty of room for piles.

She wishes she could promise to follow this experiment through to its bitterest end but she, unfortunately, suffers from an incurable disease called Incurable Clutter Brain Suck, a condition which renders the Matronly brain non-functional in the face of clothes left on the floor and shoes flying around the living room. If the kitchen is disorganized and full of mayhem? Well, she is too.

There will be an update! She's giving this 48 hours to see if the house falls into total disrepair.


17 comments:

-R- said...

I did a similar experiment with very sad results. Hopefully yours will go better!

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I couldn't do it. Not for a day. Especially not now that there lives in my house a 17-year old boy from Brazil who has never lived a day in his life without a live-in maid.

Jennifer said...

I am deeply hopeful for you. I try this occasionally (why must I be the one who always washes the dishes and puts away the milk?), but it never results in any moving forward. We just go without milk and everyone begins to whine about not having clean dishes.

Best of luck. If it works, I want step-by-step directions so that I can perform this miracle in my own home.

kcinnova said...

I've tried this, but it hurts too much to see milk spoil.
On the other hand, I like to take myself away and wait for my husband to lose it and kick everyone into gear. Last weekend I was gone all day on Saturday and came home to a clean counter, the garbage taken out, and the 11-year-old had a clean(!!) room before leaving on his Boy Scout campout. It helps to have a husband who can't stand clutter. (Me, not so much.)
Denial is powerful. Also, food is a great motivator. No one eats dinner if their area is a mess. I've sent kids away to turn out lights, too.

trash said...

I have tried something similar but on a much less grand scale. Papers and items of clothing have sat onthe stairs for weeks before I gave in. Looking forward to seeing how it works out at your place.

~annie said...

I did this once, but with a twist: Every evening, whatever wasn't in its place, went into the garbage. It was really hard to do that. The was wailing and gnashing of teeth. We lost some good stuff. Maybe some important stuff, too... But in the end, it worked.

bethany said...

same exact problems here, and same Incurable Clutter Brain Suck disease. Kids a bit younger, but still no excuse for not cleaning up. Husband? Do not understand willingness to step over crap. We live in 3 rooms in NYC, not sure I could stand a 48 hour experiment, but perhaps it's time to try again. nagging sure as hell doesn't work! Looking forward to hearing how it works out ...

bethany said...

oh, and annie ... i've threatened to do that, but not followed through (bad, I know) ... gives me hope that it might work though!!

MJ said...

I just can't choose over which is more tiring: nagging while picking up the stuff or having to restrain myself from picking up stuff during a stuff-picking-up strike.

Good luck with your experiment!

sue b said...

yes, well, good luck. I tried that, things never did get picked up. What did work was that I gave everyone a choice of sharing in the work or using all our "extra" money to pay someone to clean the house. They chose to do the work, since the "extra" money included all the kids' spending money and whatever was in the bank account. I kept the chores that I cared about, and the others did the rest.

Jenn said...

I am laughing out loud, here! Incurable Clutter Brain Suck! Hee hee!! I know exactly what you mean. The next thing will be to not purchase replacements--no more milk until regular grocery day, no more coke until the can is picked up ("Oh? I guess I thought we still had some--there's a whole can of it on the living room floor..."), feigning incompetence when the homework is eaten in front of you, et cetera. Have fun!
p.s. If it were me, I would declare one space "mine" and keep it as lovely and serene as I liked. Does this remind anyone else of Marmee's experiment in Little Women?

carol said...

When we were newly married and in our first house my husband adorned every possible surface with baseball caps. Whenever he came home, off went the cap and wherever he set it, it stayed. After buying a large hanging system for all his "treasured" caps, he still tossed them all over the house. So, I started putting them up in the attic one at a time as I picked them up every day. Believe it or not, he never asked me about the missing caps. He just continued to buy new ones and set them around the house. This silent war of the caps went on until we moved and he discovered the stash in the attic. He was like a kid at Christmas!

Minnesota Matron said...

I'm SO glad I'm not alone!

Common Household Mom said...

If the kids have left something out and it's in my way (or it's food), I stand right there next to the offending item, call to the child to come put it away, and watch while s/he does it, encouraging the child with a statement like, "Don't just put it in the other room. Put it away where it is supposed to go." Amazingly, it works most of the time. The tone of my voice implies punishment if there is no action, but possible mercy if the task is done quickly.

Waiting for someone to notice the out-of-place item never works. I am the only one who notices.

Daisy said...

I had an interesting experience after school dismissed today. A few girls (never boys, this task) stayed after school and straightened out the room. I "rewarded" them by telling them they could keep any pencils they found on the floor.

The floors were clear of pencils instantly. Instantly.

another mary said...

I've often wonder how such an experiment might turn out - I, like you, Matron, have ICBS. I'll try to remember to read the next posting about this, oh wait there's a pile I didn't notice....

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

One wonders what training works BEST for these situations.