Oct 13, 2009

Tipsy Tuesday - Get your kids to clean their room... in 15 minutes!

Tipsy Tuesdays

Hello, I am a recovering slob.  It's true.  When I was a child (teen, college student) my bedroom was so messy you couldn't see the floor.  I'm not joking.  When I moved out, my parents were amazed to find the carpet looking practically brand new!  I actually scraped paths in my room from the door to the bed and the desk. I never made my bed.  I couldn't really understand what the point was... weren't you JUST going to sleep in it a few hours later?  My clothes were in piles around my room, and I won't pretend they were in "orderly" piles... they were all mixed in with paper, over-due assignments, lost jewelry, make-up, shoes.

My mother tried when I was young to get me to keep it clean.  She threatened, warned, occassionally cleaned it herself... every once in awhile, she would sit in there and watch me clean... to help me stay "focused".  But even if I got my floor picked up, bed made, dresser closed, closet straightened... my desk would still be a pile of paper, and within a few days of the cleaning, my room would revert to it's "natural" state = MESSY.

I would look at a mess and get overwhelmed, and I would procrastinate.  Eventually (after a few years of tension in my marriage to a "neat freak") I started to figure this out.  The best thing to ever happen to me is a certain kind lady named "Flylady",  she helped me to understand the deeper reasons for my inability to keep things clean and it turned my house around.

So, this is an adaption of one of her concepts, which is cleaning for 15 minutes at a time, this helps me with my procrastination, because you can do ANYTHING for 15 minutes... right?  As my children aged and I got tired of cleaning up their rooms, I decided that they were going to have to pull their own weight.
If they were going to make the mess, then, dog-gone-it, they were going to clean it up!

Both started with this concept when they were 2 years old, with a smaller time increment. I set a timer for 5 minutes and help them by telling them which "bin" to fill.  My kids have bins in their closets which helps with clean up.

So, at the beginning, I literally helped B clean by sitting there and saying "Find a Lego" He picks one up "Where does that go?" He says - Lego bin. "Put it away" OVER and OVER and OVER until he didn't need the prompting.

So, this is fool proof, unless your kid freaks out when you get out the timer, in which case, don't use this idea.  I have found that the timer helps us all stay focused.  I can say "CLEAN YOUR ROOM" until I'm blue in the face, but unless I put a time limit on it, it doesn't actually get done. One other thing... I make my kids clean their rooms EVERY NIGHT.  This is a pain in the butt, but they can get it cleaned and it's not so overwhelming (not to mention saving my feet from stepping on small, sharp toys in the middle of the night when someone has a nightmare)

So... as an example:
Now, I set the timer for 5 min. Let her choose which bin to fill...

It doesn't look like much was done... but she chose to fill up her bin of "small things" Next: her stuffed animals and dress-up clothes. Set for 5 more minutes...

What a poser!  Looks like she's making progress! Now: kitchen and the rest. Set the timer for 5 more minutes.

"WAIT MOMMY! One more thing!"

Tuck that chair in... TA DA!

I'm hoping that if I teach my kiddos to clean little by little, they won't grow up to be "cleaning impaired" like their recovering mommy.



  1. Don't forget, putting toys away keeps them from getting BROKEN!

  2. You sound like me. I am also a reformed slob:) But some days I still go with the line " Why make the bed when I will sleep in it later?".
    Love the new blog look.

  3. SPEAKING FROM THE CRIBOctober 14, 2009 at 9:50 AM

    that was AMAZING! can you send your daughter to my house next?

  4. I also am a clean house convert thanks to flylady.
    What would we do without our timer?

  5. Oh! this is awesome! I am for sure going to try this. And your daughter is ADORABLE!!

  6. Great concept! Guess I'll be buying some bins this weekend! LOL!

  7. very cool! I am going to try it. Because even saying pick up all your cars... doesn't work. So maybe a time limit will. I remember my mom telling my brother that he had so long to clean his room or she was coming in with a trash bag and anything on the floor was going in the bag!

  8. That's awesome, I love it! Wonder if it'll work on a 17 year old with the maturity of a 5 year old! :) hahaha

  9. genius. AND you can even stay in there the whole time...until they can do it on their own.

    over from tip junkie

  10. I came from Tip Junkie. Good tips...I knew them but need to be more patient and KEEP doing it. I hate to yell. Come check out my blog sometime. www.designingandmotherhood.blogspot.com



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