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If you’re like me you try to stick to a regular routine when it comes to cleaning (as I explain in my post Five Things You Can Do to Keep Your Home Clean Enough for Company) Sometimes though, life happens and our best intentions get away from us. Somehow the house winds up looking like Kansas after the tornado went through and swept Dorothy away. The kids have been playing, your husband has been working late, you’ve been feeling under the weather, exhausted, and falling asleep on your feet. All I know is that some days I look up and it’s junk, dirt, garbage, dirty dishes, and toys as far as the eye can see. This is my system for those days.
Step one: lower your expectations, a lot
This will not leave you with a perfect shining home. This method is just to quickly tidy up the most overwhelming parts so that you can focus on getting back into your normal routine. It will soon be as clean as you want it, just maybe not today.
Step two: warn the children
I hated it when I was a kid and I was in the middle of some fantastic game of make believe when my mom would yell “okay Chantal, come and clean all this stuff up now”. Who wants to immediately stop doing something awesome to do something that kind of sucks and seems to take forever? Definitely not me so I always give the kids 10 minute warning that the clean up is going to start so that they can expect it. They still hate it when I say it times to get going but at least I feel like I’m being fair about it.
Step three: get the broom, a dustpan, and a garbage bag
Sweep everything that is on the floor into a big pile. Everything? Yes, everything. Toys, dishes, clothes, garbage, dirt, papers, and whatever else you find, it all goes into the pile.
Step four: have a seat and let the kids go to work
This is the part where the kids come in. It’s their job to go through the pile and to put away anything they want to keep. Is their favourite toy in the pile? They put it away or it goes into the garbage bag. And here is the most important part, the kid needs to be the one who puts their own item into the garbage bag. My kids hate cleaning so much that they will just tell me to throw everything away. When you make the kids do it themselves, however, they realize they’d actually like to keep the toy so they put it away properly instead. So the kids are doing most of the sorting and putting away but you are there supervising to pull anything out that you know you need to keep. A near-perfect method really 😀
Step five: sweep up the remaining debris and call it a day (or not)
This is the end. Just sweep up whatever is left on the floor and throw it away and you’re all done. The best part of this method (other than the fact that the kids do pretty much everything) is that you clean up the dirt in the process so the floor is basically clean right away. If you’re still not feeling that great you can go ahead and say you’re done for the day, or go ahead and finish cleaning properly. It’s up to you.
This whole quick clean up usually only takes us about half an hour, including the kids’ ten minute warning, so it’s not too overwhelming to do when you are exhausted. Give it a try the next time your house suddenly looks like its been hit by a natural disaster. Don’t forget to let me know how it goes.
See you later,
Chantal, the Secular Homemaker