Monday, May 9, 2011

Clean Up Time

Our house had reached near disaster status. I freely admit that I am not a good housekeeper. Truth be told it is my wonderful husband who cares about how clean the floors are and whether or not we can see through the windows. I figure I'm doing good if we have clean plates to eat off of and clean clothes to wear. Dusting - ha - will just have to wait. My husband has been way too busy lately, too, so we were in a bit of a state.

In particular I seem to be the main person who tries to put things away at our house, and I'm not even that good at it. Usually I'm dashing in the door with arms full of stuff, dropping that here and there while gathering a new arm full to dash back out the door again, leaving the detritus of busyness behind me. But eventually when I have a quiet moment I endeavor to put away my stuff, and my kids' stuff, and even some of my husband's stuff, but I can't keep up. I was spending what little time I was willing to devote to housekeeping (beyond the dishes and laundry) just putting things away, and falling ever more behind.

Want more motivation? Someone was coming to our house, and the house needed to look good for this person. This wasn't my best friend who would understand the topsy turvy nature of our lifestyle. This was someone who needed to see the house at its best. Three days notice, too - just to up the ante. Ha - I say it again.

Well, I decided to take a lesson from my twins' preschool. Twice during the class session there is "clean up time" and everyone participates. The children are given specific jobs to do, and the adults model, supervise, and encourage. So on day one, in between cleaning things myself I talked often to my children about having a clean up time that evening. After dinner, and before jammie time, we set the timer for 15 minutes, and we all worked together to clean up their bedrooms and the toy room. The next night we did it again. There was some complaining and some stalling, and some whining, but because we were right there with them, eventually everything got picked up and put away. On the third night my oldest daughter said to me, "Mom, if I keep my room clean during the day I don't have to do as much during clean up time."

AAAAH!!! I could almost hear the angels singing!

So now the kids seem to understand that if they make a big mess they will be the ones who clean it up later. Guess what?? There are fewer big messes. My oldest is particularly doing a great job maintaining her room in a nicely organized state. When I get time to do housework (still a rarity) I can spend it actually cleaning instead of just putting things away. And it's not a big deal now when people come over...the house is staying tidy enough to be presentable, at least to my best friend. I hope I never forget about clean up time. It is such a handy tool.

Now, about those windows...


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