Want to know what cleaning up looks like at my house? Well let me paint a picture.
Every hour on the hour starting at 10am an alarm goes off. A special 5-minute mix of the song Mission Impossible starts playing. Immediately everyone sits up and looks to me. What do we need to clean?
I look around, the living room is filled with toys, dirty clothes and shoes out of place, crumbs and books. I exclaim, “The living room!”
The willing troops enlist and scramble because 20 seconds have already passed and they know they need to have the living room clean before the song ends.
Someone is putting the books away, another is sweeping, the others are picking up things and putting them where they belong. I am helping.
About 3 minutes pass and the living room is tidy enough to call good, but why stop there? No we keep going tending to all the details.
Then we hear the signal that the song is about to come to an end, everyone is scrambling. Hurrying to make it count. And then it ends.
“How did we do?” We all take a look around and everyone feels satisfied with their efforts and the results. We high-five!
Another token is earned. Tokens are rewarded at the end of the day by their father who is very glad they are helping mother who used to feel all alone and didn’t know how to motivate the kids to help her clean. One token per task done well. I usually pick one room to clean for the full five minutes, although we have done other things like wiping doorways, laundry, loading and unloading the dishes and so on.
They just recently experienced the fruits of their labors when they reached over 100 tokens that allowed them to buy a movie. They could have rented it for 35 tokens, but together they decided to save up for their goal.
The picture I painted above is the norm, although there are times when some kids or even all kids decide they just don’t want to clean. I choose to remain loving and don’t stress. I don’t hold a carrot before them reminding them of their token goal. I just wait until the next hour when the timer goes off. Sometimes they are just in a funk and it passes.
If we are in the car, I have them take a minute to say sorry to each other for hurt feelings and to think about how they can clean up their hearts. We have used this to get ready to leave and for bedtime.
We even use this at friends’ homes and did so during a service project where we were cleaning for a new mom.
I will have to get a video of it one day to share with you.
If you love this idea, I encourage you to pick a song that is about 5 minutes in length and set it as your alarm for every hour on the hour, or every other hour, and come up with something to save up for with your kids. Then when the alarm goes off each hour, pick one room or big task to do together. Be excited with them. Do your part too. Then make sure to end with high-fives and hugs to celebrate a job well done.
I have found that involving their father in the accountability really makes a difference. I have heard this from others too. And make sure they have an opportunity to clean with their dad on the weekends and maybe once before bedtime.
That’s it! Happy cleaning. (That used to be an oxymoron in my home, but not anymore!)
To see a time lapse of a successful mission, click here.
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