I have no problem being a Mean Mommy--hubby even wrote "you're a great Mean Mommy" on my Mother's Day card*--but I don't want to be a nagging mommy. So, when faced with The-Shoes-On-The-Couch, I hesitate to say "Get your shoes off the couch!". Asking in a more polite tone "Could you please not put your shoes on the couch?" is kinda wishy-washy, and doesn't really convey the dread I feel in my heart that I going to end up scrubbing the bleeping couch (I hate cleaning!). My approach has been to express my expectations in such a way that the kiddo knows what she needs to do and has a chance to correct any behavior that is less than desirable: "I know you aren't going to put your shoes on the couch, right?".
However, if I have to say something like that more than once, or if I have to comment that way about more than one thing, I worry about its effectiveness. Today, the kiddo sat down on the couch and immediately put her feet up to get comfy--with her shoes on the couch.
[The simple act of removing her shoes would save me time, energy, money, would keep my blood pressure low, reduce my carbon footprint, and lower Walmart's profits, and really, don't we all want that?!]
My blood started to boil as I mentally cataloged my cleaning supplies, resigned to the inevitable marks I would have to remove. Ideally, the kiddo should have to clean up any dirty spots she puts on the furniture, but I know that, since she is 6, I would end up with a chemically-saturated couch that would still have dirt on it. So...I counted to 10, forced out a smile, and asked "Isn't there something you're forgetting?", while looking directly at her feet. Success! She said "Oops!" and immediately moved her feet. Every time I checked on her after that, her shoes were still on her feet, but not on the couch. Of course, she heard me coming and had time to move her feet, but kids aren't that sneaky, are they??