Friday, January 23, 2009

I'll Have a Banana Split

In this down economy, we no longer employ my favorite survival crutch, a maid service with the wonderful name, “Crisis Cleaners.” So now, I must cajole, bribe, entice and warn with a scary low calm voice, my children into keeping their rooms neat and the public areas of the house reasonably free of debris.

The following are provided as a public service to parents everywhere, methods of getting the under 18 crowd to clean up their acts, however temporary.

One Room at a Time Tornado: If I send each child to clean, they will scatter to the four corners of the house, knowing that as I work, I will only rarely come into contact with all of them, thus allowing whoever does not get caught in my peripheral vision to remain in relative obscurity and leisure. By corralling all the critters in a single room and declaring, “We’re not leaving this room until it is perfect.” and blocking the door, the room will sparkle. Some children may get roughed up by others in the process. That’s okay as long as they don’t make a mess of the carpet.

The down side: When they grow up, they will write about you.

One Task at a Time: This approach seems promising, with a Socialist, Each Task according to His/her Skill, appointment of duties. Gamers however soon discern that incompetency equals easier work. So despite the fact that my sons can enter cheat codes and create power points, text message without looking and create 1000 part Lego masterpieces, the operation of a dish washer, washing machine and the mop remain mysteries. For a time, we were at an impasse. However, as I now have the passwords to all the computers in our home, I now can conveniently “forget” how to log onto the machines until they remember how to operate a vacuum.

The One Task at a Time method works as long as tasks can be clearly delineated, but sometimes, the house needs an overhaul in cleanliness, which leads us to the next method of extracting a clean home, straight bribery.

We paid a professional to get the home clean on occasion. Now, we shall pay the amateur. Putting post-its on the rooms with the designated required tasks and the going rate does lead to competitive cleaning. As long as the dollars are cold hard cash and not checks, you can get a room that looks like it was cleaned by a kid for pennies on the dollar. The trouble is, they expect prompt payment and usually, the rooms require a professional (Mom), to go through and redo. The money pays for the illusory feeling of children obeying commands.

Beat the Clock: This works when they are three and you have a fist full of Hershey bar mini’s for the kids who help clean up in the next two minutes. I could tell you that I don’t use it because I worry about cavities or obesity or that my kids have gotten wise to this approach but the fact is, Hershey bars don’t last long in our house, and it’s not because of the children.

The one guaranteed method of getting the home House beautiful is to enlist the aid of my beloved spouse. If Dad is cleaning, then no child has a prayer of exonerating themselves or escaping the chore taskmaster me. We set the timer for one hour and everyone cleans. There are Windex bottles spraying windows, toilets being scrubbed, floors mopped and a vacuum humming everywhere. There are flourishes like children who put fresh flowers on the table or the enterprising nine year old who straightens the pantry and by the end of the sixty minutes, the house looks like civilized people might live here.

After an hour, everyone is exhausted and the idea of dirtying the sparkling kitchen with pots and pans seems a poor tribute to the children’s actual work. So we’ve added a bonus to Sunday One Hour Clean up rule. Dinner on Sunday is Sundaes, and we go out to get them. Now, I just have to figure out how I can manage my diet if we keep the house clean.

1 comment:

MightyMom said...

I'm printing this out and saving it in a safe place!! and emailing it to my husband!!

we've gotta take us some serious notes from the PRO!

(we should have some more kids so that there are more hands to clean, right?)

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