Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Quick cleanup

Kev mentioned before that I've been "doing a bang up job" of keeping things cleaned up around the house, since I'm home. So I thought I'd delve into that a bit, and tell him thanks for the kudos at the same time. Thanks honey!

See, the problem around here is one that I bet is pretty common. I tell the kids to go clean their rooms because they're a giant mess, right? So they walk into their rooms and see the giant mess, think "Woe, suffering, trauma, I can never get this mess tackled all by myself!". It's all downhill from there, with wailing and gnashing of teeth, and threats of punishment and garbage bags. No fun for anyone.

Then I think "Aw man, this house is a mess, I've gotta get it cleaned up." I stand up to get to work, and think "Woe, suffering, trauma...etc.". Yeah. There's slightly less outward wailing and gnashing, but it's still no fun.

So I tried a different approach. Now, I herd the whole family into the girls' room. Set the kitchen timer for five minutes. When the timer's going, everyone dives in and just picks up whatever they get their hands on. It doesn't matter if we get done, or if the room is perfect, we're just picking up for five minutes. When the timer beeps, we're done. Repeat for Alexander's room, then for the living room, then we stop.

That's it. Nobody has to pick up for more than 15 minutes, nobody gets overwhelmed, and I have some lovely cleaned off surfaces for dusting and vacuuming. There's also 110% less wailing and gnashing, which is always a bonus. You'd be amazed at how much you can get done in 5 minutes. Since there are five of us, each room gets almost a half hour's worth of cleaning every time we do this. It makes a huge difference.

Everyone in the family can do this - even the littlest ones can put toys back in their place.

One extra tip. I found it helps to put myself in the position of "supervisor/organizer/mayhem controller" during these sessions. I plant myself in the middle of the room and grab up armloads of toys, calling out things like "Alexander, Lincoln Logs! Catherine, Polly Pocket! Elizabeth, scrap paper!". The kids run to me, recieve their item, put it away and come back. It prevents a lot of "Mooom! I was gonna put that away, and she grabbed it!" and people crashing into one another.

We've found this to be a lot of fun. The kids turn it into a race against the clock, laughing and running back and forth, and it's not overwhelming because it's such a short amount of time.

Try it, enjoy.

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