A messy house is so discouraging, not to mention overwhelming. Yesterday I was determined to get the house ready for our Christmas brunch/craft party. I announced to the children that we were going to clean.
They love it when I do that.
“MOM, I don’t know where to start.”
“It looks fine to me, Mom.”
“What do you want me to do, I’ve already picked up 30 things.”
“You’re kidding me, can’t I do school instead?”
As I looked around at piles of assorted mess – everything from socks to papers – I wondered what was so difficult to comprehend.
“Anything that is out of place needs to go BACK into it’s place. We’re done when the entire downstairs is picked up and cleaned,” I explained patiently.
“Oh,” they all intoned in voices full of gloomy understanding. And then they stood there motionless, no doubt ‘moved’ by my brilliant leadership. Finally I realized I needed a different approach.
I went to the beloved whiteboard (our full size, floor to ceiling white board) and began listing specific jobs with corresponding monetary values.
1. Sweep kitchen floor $0.50
2. Clean red bathroom $1.00
3. Vacuum stairs $0.75
4. Take out recycling $0.25
5. Pick up and organize garage $3.00
And so on. My list nearly filed the board. The kids scrambled to pick jobs, signing their initials next to the numbers. And, this is key, then they ran off to do their jobs. I tackled the areas that needed a mother’s touch (filing papers, clearing off the table, etc). It worked beautifully.
Sarah is ready to tackle those mirrors!
The children were diligent workers, needing only a little bit of supervision and encouragement. By the end of the day I was blessed with a clean house at a fairly minor expense.
Of course, I could have revised the pay structure to something like this:
1. Sweep kitchen floor – allowed to eat dinner
2. Clean red bathroom – toilet paper provided for your bathroom visits
3. Vacuum stairs – free shuttle service to youth group
4. Take out recycling – clean socks and underwear will mysteriously appear in your drawers
It takes too much time to write all of that down plus I’m not sure they would sense the urgency of my housecleaning needs. Candy also works as a motivating force (check out Sarah’s blue teeth) but there’s only so much sugar they can eat and my house gets awfully messy. There are a LOT of jobs.
I have dreams of becoming an organized mother with a rotation of chores for the children that helps maintain a clean and tidy home.
Until then, I’m content to shell out quarters for laundry and vacuuming.
What about your home? How do you get ready for a party? Is your house spic and span and company-ready all the time? Do you send your kids outside and do the work yourself (at least it’s peaceful and not getting messier every minute)? Do you have a system for powering through the house cleaning?
I’d love to hear more ideas.