Thanks for all the kind words on that last blog post. I got a lot of emails and texts, which is always so encouraging! A friend of mine used to tell me that she liked my blog because she never knew what was coming next. So today we are switching gears entirely from thoughts on eternity to keeping your kitchen tidy. Ha!
I love cleaning games and making new strategies for keeping our house in order. I think I am so interested because the challenge is great: we homeschool and we are all home every day. We eat all of our meals at home. And with a two year old and a four year old, it seems everything gets taken out. Which means it all needs to be put back. So I keep looking for helpful tips to keep this home running smoothly.
With that in mind, today I’m going to share a few of my favorite tricks for keeping up with the house. And hopefully, like me, you’ll feel inspired to set a new system or two in place for the new year!
This is my very favorite game and I am the one who plays it. This game is best for that flat surface that accumulates every random thing under the sun. For us it is the counter under the microwave. It ends up covered and my job is to uncover it. So I will announce, “Okay kids! I’m going to play Take Ten four times. Time me and see how long this takes me.” (This is a super wise announcement because suddenly they are invested which means if I say, “oh hurry, please run this to your room! ” they are on board.) The game is simple. I simply count each item AFTER IT IS PUT AWAY. Ten items put away and I start again for another round.
This game is hilariously simple. But it does two things: It keeps me focused! I am playing a game and must complete my four rounds! (Or two rounds or six rounds…) And it chips away at the mess so that it feels like I can tackle it. That counter is just plain overwhelming most days. But if I just tell myself I’m just putting ten things away, it doesn’t seem like such a chore. It’s all a mind game and even though I created it…it works!
Power Hour actually has its own theme song in this house. (Though it is followed by groans and screams from the kids.) But this hour is amazing. Every Sunday night from 6-7pm, our family hits the house. Rory vacuums every room. This is key to Power Hour. Having the father of the house working with everyone else is so important! And this is a great job for the dad because he listens to a podcast with his ear buds which means this isn’t total drudgery. And he can keep tabs on kids all over the house and if they’re still pitching in or hiding…
Then every other person has a notecard with specific jobs we have assigned. Ivar’s jobs include: floor chores (picking up everything on the floors and putting toys away so dad can vacuum), collecting all the garbage cans and bringing it to the garage, bringing down the dirty laundry to the laundry room, wiping down the kitchen chairs and all surfaces, wiping down the baseboards. Elsie’s jobs include: floor chores with Ivar, bathroom mirrors, sweeping and mopping the entry, kitchen, laundry and bathroom. Becca’s jobs include: cleaning the toilets, tub, bathroom sinks and counters, switching the laundry and tidying that room, cleaning the kitchen counters off, tidying the book shelves. Hattie’s jobs include: putting all shoes into the closet, putting toys and books back and making her bed. Alden and Elias’ jobs include: crying in fear of the vacuum and general mayhem so that Becca can only accomplish a few of her tasks.
But this is okay, because the magic that happens in this one hour of time is so motivating that I often will finish up every room after the kids go to bed.
Power Hour is magic. Of course no one actually wants to do it. But the way it resets our house and makes us ready for a new week is astonishing. Rory is the biggest champion and our house feels more peaceful because of this one 60-minute stretch.
I’ve tried so many things for morning routine. At one point Ivar and Elsie had lanyards around their necks that were full of cards that told them what to do next. But they would lose all the cards. So we moved on and have finally landed on a system that works for us for in this season. Each kid has a half clipboard with their chores listed in order. I laminated the cards with contact paper (no need for a machine) and gave them a white board marker. They need to have everything done by a certain time each morning and when they are finished they can mark the monthly calendar on the wall.
Now here is the key! They can miss two days a month. If they miss any more than that, they do not get to pick a prize out of the prize basket the last day of the month. (The prizes are tiny treasures from The Dollar Tree. They know this! And yet this still works!) Also, Rory oversees the prize basket and deciding if a prize is given or not. This is probably the most important part of the success of this system. He buys new prizes, and he makes sure the system stays honest.
Ivar’s chores are now a combination of morning hygiene, floor chores, bathroom counters, and animal chores. Elsie’s chores include morning hygiene, floor chores and kitchen help like emptying the dishwasher. Hattie is 4 1/2 and as I am typing this I am realizing she should have her own chore card now. She has been too little, but now she could do this. I’ll likely make her a card with pictures she can check off.
Beat the Clock/Company is Coming!
This game is pretty obvious. But for some reason, an alarm is a great motivator. So we’ll set a timer and see how much we can get done in 5 minutes. It only works if I am working with them (otherwise the work is very slow…and nothing gets done). But one time Ivar, Elsie and I unloaded and loaded and started the dishwasher in under five minutes! So now that we know we can get it over with in five minutes, they are more willing to join in and just do it.
And finally, I have been watching Minimal Mom youtube videos for a year now. Each video is specific to a part of your house (paper clutter, kids toys, basement storage, kitchen, junk drawer etc…) and always serve as a good shot of motivation for me. I love home organization and used to be very proud of my tubs and labels. But I now have decided that even better than tubs and labels is not having all the stuff in the first place! A house can stay much more tidy if there just isn’t so much stuff. Hence why it always feels good to put the Christmas decorations away. I love them when they’re out, and I love them when they’re put back and ready for next year.
So those are my Cleaning Games! Do you have any favorites? I’d love to know so I can play them. I seriously do enjoy this topic so much… Here’s to a tidy twenty twenty!