Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Gunny Bag in Australia

Saren and I got this cute email last week after our first Australian Retreat, and I thought it was worth sharing here on my blog.  The "Gunny Bag" idea is one from Richard and Linda Eyre at, and it was one of hundreds of tips discussed at our Retreat.

We love to see how fun, simple ideas can change families.

Here's the email:

Hi April & Saren,

I attended the Gold Coast Retreat last weekend, and I just wanted to let you know something that happened to me today.

I came away from the retreat feeling completely and utterly overwhelmed. Not only because of the amount of work I have to do as a mother in order to be a more deliberate mother and create a family culture that I want for my children, but also because of the amount of work I have to with my spouse to create a partnership that enables us to have the family culture we both long for.

Anyway, after a terribly grumpy day, feeling overwhelmed and struggling to decide where to start, my children came home from school, and I looked around the house and just felt like crying. There was a mess everywhere, and I didn't want my husband to come home from work to such a disaster.

I remembered your advice about Mr Gunny Bag. At the time I had thought it a bit silly and I didn't think it would work with my kids - we've tried "pick-your-stuff-up-or-it's-
going-in-the-bin" before, and unless it was accompanied with lots of yelling it never worked.

I took a deep breath and called the 3 older children together. Putting on my best excited voice (and believe me, by that point in the afternoon I didn't feel very excited!), I told the children I'd had a visitor that day, and did they know who it was?! They were all excited with me, and I disappeared into the pantry. I came out with a reusable cloth shopping bag and put on a funny voice and said "Hello! I'm Mr Gunny Bag." My children thought it was hilarious!!! So I continued and in my best Mr Gunny Bag voice explained that I liked to eat toys and clothes. I told them those toys and clothes would stay in my tummy until Saturday until I would vomit them back up (they loved the vomit part!). My Gunny Bag told them he'd play 2 songs and anything not put away by the end would be eaten.

I have never seen my children tidy up so well!!! Even my 4 year old! It was truly amazing. It totally changed the feeling in our home. The feeling in our home went from grumpy and angry to one of co-operation and helping. By the end of the 2 songs there wasn't a thing left out & my children were happy, I wasn't yelling and the house was tidy!!!!

Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

My kids are still talking about Mr Gunny Bag at bedtime. I think he will be a permanent fixture in our house.

I'm hoping this is just the first tiny step of many.

Thank you again.
Have any of you ever tried the Gunny Bag idea, or do you have fun ways to hep your kids pick up the house?  Any additional ideas/adaptations you'd like to share?

1 comment:

  1. Oh I really enjoyed reading that experience. Thnks for sharing april. x Melissa


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