Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Scientific Method

I have been conducting an experiment this past month. Others might say I've just been lazy beyond belief but I was just working undercover so as not to influence the test subjects (Did you know that fuzzy bathrobes make for great camouflage?).

Scientific Method requires a question, a hypothesis, an experiment, recorded outcome, and conclusion

Question: What gives my children more joy?
Hypothesis: Oh, who am I trying to kid. I knew the answer all along but was really enjoying being lazy.
Experiment: Let children glut themselves on toys, games, and movies. Leave them free to play by not having them do any chores. Let them live in their own filth. After an adequate amount of time for subjects to get used to situation suddenly have them do chores, clean, get rid of LOTS of their toys, games, and movies, and teach them new working skills.

WARNING: The following includes highly graphic and disturbing material. If you are judgemental or squeamish in any way please exit this window immediately and find a craft or recipe blog to read.

Record of experiment:

Week one: kids were fine, no one complained, house got messy, I watched many movies and gained 7 pounds, husband was a bit shocked.

Week two: kids still seem fine. Subject #1 walks around sighing a lot and subject #3 has been reverting to 3 year old types of mischief (drawing on younger sibling, furniture and walls). House continues to increase in messiness, a blockbuster movie is missing and we are being charged for the movie but I can't find it in all this mess. I read a book, watched 3 movies, checked all my regular blogs twice and then went looking for new blogs to read, gained 4 pounds and stopped feeding my children. Husband is quieter than usual.

Week 3: Kids are acting funny. They seem to enjoy fighting and whining and complain of being bored. Also, there language is being affected and they are using "bad" words like stupid, dummy head, fart, and buster (for some reason that last name made subject #1 cry). They say there is nothing fun to do and when I recommend cleaning they suddenly disappear. They ask to go to the park or to play computer games but there are firm rules about chores and such things. Kids apparently prefer being bored to cleaning. I have stopped cooking all together, have served cold cereal for dinner 3 times this week and ordered pizza another night. Laundry has not been done for 3 days and there are no socks or underwear for the kids. Husband tosses ice cream at the primitive mother beast and hides in his office to play Sudoku.

Week 4: Kids are banished from my presence they have become so annoying. Because they have taken apart or destroyed all their toys and games they have started taking apart the house. Fake wood trim has been torn off, a window is cracked, and there are 7 new stains on the living room carpet. I am experiencing a funny emotional disconnect to the whole situation. It feels like an out of body experience as I look around and think, "Man, what monsters live here?" Suddenly I look down at the unshaven legs peeking out from my bath robe and I realize, the monster is ME! Husband is unable to hide in his office because I have started moving all my hideous piles into that room and there is no room for him. Instead he goes to bed early.

****For the safety of the test subjects it is determined that the experiment must be moved into phase 2 and FAST!

Day one: I announce that it is time to do some cleaning. Kids disappear. I leave them be and use the time to clean my own filth.
Day two: A repeat of Day one but subject #2 actually picks up several objects before fading into the debris.
Day three: I bath all subjects, trim their claws/nails, cut hair on male subjects so as to be able to see their eyes, and force them all out into natural sunlight for 2 hours. Then I make them eat some fresh fruit and vegetables. This seems to calm them. We attempt to clean. Subject #1 goes into a rage, subject #2 is willing to participate in the new activity, subject #3 complains that his feet hurt and he itches, subject #4 is put down for a nap. We clean for 2 straight hours but little difference is seen. Children are grumpy. I am bathing and dressing myself again and I even make dinner. Husband says I look nice and prints off a new Sudoku.
Day four: Make children change into clean clothes and they feel the need to ask why. Cleaning continues and the same reactions are seen in respective subjects, however after 2 more hours of cleaning it is easy to see a difference being made and all subjects end up happy and excited to show their daddy what they've done. I start wearing make up, made lunch and dinner today. Husband is happy to see the changes but is wary of believing it to be a permanent change.
Day Five: Take children outside to clean up our white trash yard. We fill the garbage can with much stuff. Many lost gloves, spoons, cups, and shoes are found. I mow the lawn. Children suddenly show interest in playing together and spend an additional 2 hours outside playing soccer, tag, and digging holes under the deck. All receive baths and they all seem happy and helpful the rest of the evening. I go to the store and buy new plastic containers to increase our organizing efficiency and even take subjects #3 and 4 to the children's museum. Husband is extra helpful cleaning the kitchen with me after dinner and helping get kids into bed.
Day 6: Laundry is caught up and put away, dishes are done, I am no longer embarrassed to have people over. Today we intend to finish cleaning downstairs. I have bought nice plastic containers to help the kids sort their toys and some plastic drawers to try this idea with my laundry.

Conclusion: Contrary to what children say, it is obvious that they don't really want to be left alone, or to not work. While subjects seem to complain more in phase 2 of the experiment it is obvious that they are more joyful, constructive, calm, and play together better in this phase. They seem to prefer having clean open spaces in which to run and play physical games than they do being surrounded by electronic gadgets and toys and TV.

We will continue studying subject behavior in phase 2 for 1 more week. Then we will try phase 3 in which we increase the responsibilities and reduce the amount of stuff in subjects' environment.

Pictures are not being used as they were found to be too graphic and shocking for normal human viewing.


Michal said...

i love a good experiment. sounds like it has been successful. what a loving mother you were to sacrifice like that during those long weeks of phase 1!:) your children (and maybe even husband) will thank you someday.

Cheri said...

You have CRACKED me up over here. I must register my protest at organizing the laundry into plastic drawers, however. That's what the floor is for.


My Ice Cream Diary said...

I have my reservations on this technique (mostly because I fold laundry right outside their rooms anyway) but thought I would try it. If it doesn't work I have lots of other uses for the drawers and I still LOVE the idea of using them for camping and road trips instead of suitcases.

Lynell said...

Great experiment! I think if I were to try it I would NEVER get things caught up. Let me know what you think about the laundry technique. With 5 kids (4 of them teenage boys) Laundry is a full time job!

Here's one thing I have tried. When sorting clothes, if they aren't stiff or totally stink I just fold them and stick them back in the drawers. Shhh! I can't believe I just told you that but hey, no complaints yet!

Amy Y said...

Oh, how I wanted that to be a bad dream!

I think my kids do better with some order and chorse... Especially my #1, who is a little OCD like me. :) I guess I have worse habits for him to have inherited... poor kid!

Cocoa said...

Great experiment. "All work and no play make Jack a dull boy" and my own reverse interpretation, "All play and no work make Jack a real big jerk." :D

My laundry cure is having them fold their own laundry. They rotate weekly who actually loads the washer and dryer but they are each responsible for folding their own clothes which gets washed in its own load. I help the 3 and 5 year olds rotate the laundry when its their week but the rest know how to do it themselves. With seven children this has been a huge breakthrough for us. We are rarely ever behind.

Packer Family said...

I love the laundry Idea!!!!!

Childlife said...

Oh, that was hilarious! :D

We just made an emergency move into phase two after a similar experiment gone awry at our place. Unfortunately my subjects are stubbornly frozen in the whiny protest phase proclaiming Mommy to be evil. :P

Traci said...

This is GREAT STUFF. Wow. Love the scientific method here! We're dejunking and cleaning around here, too. Weeping, wailing, gnashing of teeth and then, "Wow! Now we can play here!" And another mess happens. But what do you do? :)

Richelle said...

What a great experiment. Thanks for sacrificing yourself in the name of science. :)

Family Adventure said...


I do think, however, it was worthwhile for the subjects to actually experience being left to their own devices. Perhaps they now appreciate rules and responsibilities a bit more. Yes? No?


My Ice Cream Diary said...

I'm hoping they will, but I don't expect them to recognize it until they are 30. =)

Leslie said...

Loved your warning...I thought for a moment about turning back, but decided to push ahead, hoping that my stomach could handle any disgusting tale you might have to relate :)

Sweet are one funny woman!

Happy Days said...

Great experiment! You make me laugh!!! Great idea!

Amy said...

Wonderfully creative. Can you come to my house?

Anonymous said...

1st thought--Great experiment, although I could have told you the results :), this is why spring break just doesn't work for us. I'm still debating what we're going to do for summer. I need a break, but the boys just can't handle unstructured days on end.

2nd thought--you have lawn to mow?!!

CC said...

LOVE the experiment! And well written up. I'm sure there's a scientific journal out there that would print this! ;)

An Ordinary Mom said...

Being a former Biology teacher, this is one of the best experiments for the scientific method that I have heard in a long time :) !!

Anonymous said...

yes, but I wonder: were you conscously "experimenting" during the first phase, or did you just notice the differing results after a slow week that made you want to whip the house back into shape? I'm only asking because your tale is all too familiar, but in my house it has nothing to do with science and everything to do with Mom's temperment!

I laughed all the way through this, by the way! :)

Amber M. said...

You're KILLING funny.

Sea Star said...

You really are a great writer! I sat here reading with a big grin on my face. Loved it!

The drawer idea does sound kinda nice. I will have to think about it and see how we could make it work. At the moment I have about 3 loads to fold and the last 3 loads that I washed and folded a few days ago waiting to be put away. We certainly need a new system!

Cecily R said...

HaHA! Fabulously written!

And all this time I had no idea I was conducting an experiment!! I swear we have weeks like this...all too often.

Mrs. Annie said...

Great post and timely ideas! LOL! Laundry...grrr!

Magirk said...

Niiiiiice. :)

I resemble some of this experiment...

Kim said...

That is too funny!
I may have to steal the "experiment" excuse next time my house gets messy.

Kim @ TheBitterBall

Jen said...


I love Cocoa's spin on the Jack line.

Anonymous said...

That was not only funny, but informative. It is possible that being both a subject and the experimenter has affected the results. Next time, I suggest that you remove yourself from the experiment, maybe to a nearby luxury hotel with a spa. Then you could stop by the "laboratory" at regular intervals, record data, and then go back to the hotel.

John (Pop at