Have you ever looked about your home after a day of homeschooling or a day of play, and gasped at the mess? It can be absolutely frightening! But, you do not need to be afraid of the mess because you are only 15 minutes away from tidy!
We all want a clean and neat house, but when you have children in the house, it doesn’t matter how hard you try, the house will not STAY clean. You have physically clean it every so often. However, you can tidy up throughout the day, and find that your home can be relatively neat even with children underfoot! We call it the 15 minute Tidy, but you may only need 10 minutes, or you might need as many as 20 minutes to get the house back in order.
How to Keep Your House Clean
This method works no matter how many children you have, but it is based on two assumptions…that your home is relatively clean underneath the clutter, and that you and your family know where most things go – meaning your stuff has a home. If your home is NOT clean underneath, take some time to work out a cleaning routine that works for you that will get the underneath clean.
Here are a few of the ways I have kept our home clean over the years:
FLYlady is how I learned to keep my home under control, but A Slob Comes Clean is for those who have failed at FLYlady and need something even more remedial. No judgement.
Keeping a House Clean With A Lot of Kids
OK, so now that we’ve worked out those assumptions, let me mention the number of children thing. Some might argue that of course I can have a really tidy house in 15 minutes because there are a whole bunch of us working, but remember, the flip side of having a lot of children to help out is that I also have a lot of children creating messes! For what it is worth, we have been doing a 15 Minute Tidies since my oldest two children were tiny. They helped as much as they could while I worked like a whirlwind. Now, I have 4 really great Tidy-ers, 2 sort-of Tidy-ers, and 3 not-helping-at-all-ers. If this method didn’t work, I would not have continued to do it all these years!
So, let’s get started!
How to Clean the House in 15 Minutes
Music can be very helpful to use as a “timer” – put together a playlist that is about 15 minutes long (Hamster Dance is a favorite on our list!) and start the music at the beginning of the 15 Minute Tidy. (Amazon Prime Music is a great way to create a Cleaning Playlist!)
Gather everyone in the same room to get them started. This lets you put eyes on every single child and direct those who need directing. If I didn’t bring them all to the same room (usually the worst room), they would lay around and not help at all.
Announce the reward for their effort. We ALWAYS have a reward for getting the work done. 15 Minute Tidies are set at times when there is a natural reward – before snack (announce what the snack will be), before movie night (announce that the movie night will start as soon as the tidy is finished), before you head to the park (announce that you will be heading out as soon as the timer goes off). This is the motivation everyone needs to get the job done!
Ready, Set, Go!
Start your timer or your music, and get moving!
You have 2 Options for YOUR ROLE during the tidy:
1. You do the bulk of the work and not worry about what the children are doing except for directing as they pass by.
2. You work as a facilitator and delegator. (This is how I have chosen to work.)
If you don’t have a lot of children or none really old enough to be of much help, then you will need to be the primary worker. Get moving and work as quickly as you can, giving your children direct orders as you go. Take that to…. Pick that up and set it over there… Help me pick these up… (you get the idea) The name of the game is beat the clock and get as much put away as you can. (We’ll talk in a moment about how to keep from wasting precious steps and time.)
Because I have a lot of children and a lot of littles too, being a facilitator makes more sense for our household. I delegate rooms and chores and also work quickly by picking things up in specific rooms and piling them onto a specified surface while the children work hard to put those things away. I also continually check on everyone to make sure they are working. I am in constant motion.
How to Efficiently Tidy Your Home
Start in the COMMON ROOMS (i.e. Living Room, Kitchen, etc).
Don’t waste your time on the rooms no one sees. That way, if you run out of time, you have at least gotten the main rooms in the house tidied up. If you have enough time, you can send everyone to their respective rooms or you can have another 15 minute tidy time at some point that is specifically for bedrooms.
Start in the MESSIEST ROOM. Everyone likes to start where there isn’t much work to be done. Don’t get caught in that trap. The rooms that aren’t super messy can easily be cleaned later. Pay the most attention to the worst rooms and you will feel a much bigger sense of accomplishment.
As I mentioned above, I will work in one room and make a pile of all the misplaced items from that room. If I was working alone, I would be the main one putting that pile away as soon as I was finished making it, but if I’m delegating, I will have one or two children as designated put-awayers (that’s a real word, right?). Then, I move to the next room. The reason this creates efficiency is because you are not constantly leaving the room to put things away. You do the putting away at the end.
NOTE: You can also grab a laundry basket or box and fill it up in EVERY room before putting anything away.
DON’T get caught up organizing or decluttering. This is NOT the time for that. In fact, if you find you have a lot of STUFF that has no home, rather than dealing with it now, grab a laundry basket or box and just throw it all in there…especially if your “reward” is having company over. You can take a look at that box later and try to figure out where a good home for those items would be. When you do find a place for them, be sure to let everyone know where that place is so the next time you do your 15 Minute Tidy, they will know exactly where to put those items.
Now, you reward yourself and everyone else! This can be a cup of coffee, a movie, a snack. You name it, it’s yours! (Ok, not really, but a girl can dream, can’t she.)
And that’s all there is to it! Give it a try today and let me know how it turned out!
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