Tuesday, February 16, 2010

My Number One House Cleaning Tip

Hire someone to come every day.


Ha, ha, ha, ha.  That’s a good one, isn’t it?

In the world I actually inhabit, a daily housekeeper isn’t feasible.  However, it’s not a job I save a lot of time for.  Between writing, speaking, being a mother, friend, and wife, if I have two hours free, mopping is not at the top of my list of things to do.

Plus, it’s seriously valuable for kids to learn these tasks early, right?

It took me years to come up with a plan that worked, but I finally did.

It’s as simple as a deck of cards.

What you’ll need:
Poster board
List of tasks
Clear Contact to “laminate” your tasks

What you’ll do:
Think about every cleaning job you do and break them down into tasks. Think do-able jobs for kids.  “Clean the bathroom,” for example, will not get you a clean bathroom.  I guarantee it.  Instead, you might break that job down into these tasks: clean the bathtub and shower, scrub the toilet, scrub the sink, clean the mirror, dust, and mop the floor.

Once you have your list, if your kids are uninitiated, you need to show them exactly what each task entails.  How do you want them to clean the toilet?  What, precisely, do you want them to dust.  Skip this step and live with the dirty results. This, too, I can promise.

Once everyone understands the tasks, it’s time to make the cards.  Use a pencil to mark off rectangles on a colorful piece of poster board.  In each rectangle, write or draw one task with a Sharpie.  (I do a crude drawing along with a short description.)  Cut out the rectangles and use the clear Contact paper to laminate each one.

On the days of your choice, hand each child the cards with their tasks for the day.  I found that my kids were much more receptive to this “game”:  Place all of the cards face down on the table and let them take turns choosing cards.  The drawback to this approach is that you can’t try to keep things even.  The same child might draw "scrub the bathtub" and "dust the living room. " It’s the price of fun, I suppose.

To keep things interesting, you can add a few cards like “Free Pass: Give mom one of your jobs,” or “Earn $1 by doing an extra job.”

Fair warning:  This will not go smoothly from the get-go.  It will take you just as long, maybe longer, to get the house clean as you help them learn.  But eventually, eventually they will learn. 

And that’s a day we can all celebrate!

1 comment:

Heather said...

I really like this idea! Might work to get my own butt in gear too.