The Cleaning GameSometimes people say to me “I don’t know how you do it!”.  I guess it’s because of the four kids?  And honestly, I say the same thing to so many other parents.  We all feel overwhelmed some days, spread thin and as if there are simply not enough hours in the day.  Somehow we all “do it” though.  We muddle through the days, meet our family’s needs and juggle tasks, activities and commitments.  My big secret to appearing as if I’ve got a handle on our chaotic life is quite embarrassing to admit.  I don’t clean very much.  Sure, I do my best to keep our house tidy, and I can whip it into shape in 15 minutes by piling stuff in the basement & closets, but it’s rarely truly CLEAN.  Our bathroom belongs at some dinghy gas station, actually gas station bathrooms are often cleaner than mine.  And I loathe to sweep floors.  Not cleaning your home can save you so much time!  Although, I have to admit I feel shame when I go to other homes that seem to be spotless (especially those spotless homes where young children reside).  Every once in a while I try to take cleaning more seriously, but I never get very far.  I LOVE to organize, but could care less about cleaning.  I keep telling myself that when the children are grown and gone I will have plenty of time for scrubbing, and that I should just relax and enjoy these moments with them because they are growing up way too fast!

I do get serious about cleaning sometimes – for instance, when we are going to have a party.  We always joke that the reason we throw parties is to get our house into shape.  This weekend we are having a get-together and I’m trying to get the house into shape.  What’s nice is that now that our children are older they can lend a hand (except for Henry, he is intent on messing everything we clean).  My favorite phrase lately has been “we don’t have a maid, clean up your mess!”.  One of them jokingly replied once that I was the maid…my reaction was not pretty.  I have to say my kids are pretty good cleaners, and are fairly willing to do tasks & chores.  But cleaning for a party is different than cleaning a bedroom – it’s a three-day affair.

So to liven things up (and reduce the amount of whining) I came up with a game today.

The Cleaning Game ::

First I wrote down all the chores I wanted them to do on small scraps of paper.  I wrote down every single thing I thought they could handle.

I folded the scraps of paper up, threw them in a bucket and then let them draw one “task” at a time.

As they finished a task I gave them a tally mark on the score sheet, telling them that the winner would get a bag of skittles (candy is a rare treat).

And let me tell you, they worked their tails off!  The bucket was empty in no time, and my house was de-cluttered.  It was awesome!  I was so happy I rewarded all of them with a treat.

How do you get your family to pitch in around the house?

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