Thursday, June 7, 2012

Getting the Kids Involved

The worst areas in my house are the kids' rooms.  We have 3 bedrooms so there's a boys room and a girls room. The rooms aren't huge so they should be easy to keep clean, right?


Their rooms are horrendous.  It's crazy! Sometimes one of the rooms will be fantastic and the other will be awful. Occasionally, they are both presentable. But the vast majority of the time they look like this.

A & T2's room

T and J's room
(as a sidenote, the TV is neither plugged up nor hooked to the cable, but that's another post for another day)
Not pretty, huh. So in my effort to banish the CHAOS, I must get my children on board.  I lined them all up for a pep talk. I told them that any chore could be done in 15 minutes and that's all the time I'd be giving them for cleaning their rooms. We talked about what clean meant in our house. They gave me specific examples.  I really like what they came up with.
Clean room:
  • all drawers closed
  • no clothes on the floor
  • books and toys in their places
  • beds made up (I added this one)
  • Then I set the timer and told them to go!
What are those crazy kids up to?
During the 15 minutes, I didn't micromanage, supervise, or oversee them at all. I say that because that's ususally what I do. Room cleaning is an awful, angry, stressful event in chez moi.  Not this time, though.  This time, I sat on the couch with M. It was very, very quiet and I worried that nothing was getting done.

Here's how they looked 15 minutes later. They were actually hard at work. My first impulse was to let them keep going, but that was not the agreement I made with them.  Here's what their rooms looked like after 15 minutes.

T & J's room
A & T2's room

Not perfect, but a drastic improvement and it didn't take hours and lots of screaming, threats, or cajoling. And I can walk in their rooms, which is significant.The best thing, though, is that it was less stressful for both me and for the kids. I called them back into the living room for a sort of debriefing and we talked about how much they'd accomplished in such a short amount of time. Turns out, my girls took a bathroom break (cause even at home, girls go to the bathroom in twos!) and still got it done.

It also motivated them even more. I looked in the boys room a few minutes ago and their bed was full made up and they'd laid out a little fire truck rug. They went back and continued to clean after I said to stop. Totally Twilight Zone, right?  I think they cleaning time was so short, they didn't get frustrated or burnt out, and they also saw the immediate improvement which motivate them to make it even better.

 So our new thing is 15 minutes of room cleaning a day. They can even do that during the school year without it interfering with the after school rush.  Things are really starting to change around here.
Thank you, Mr. Timer!
I leave you with this thought: any ordinary chore can be completed in 15 minutes or less.  And we can all find 15 minutes in our day to do something.  Commit to 15 minutes a day, and see if it makes a difference.

Tell me: What chore will you do?