We live in CHAOS – Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome. Yes, it’s true. Between teaching and canning and running the biz, cleaning happens randomly (grabbing something of mine as I walk out of a room), and it’s so frustrating getting on the troops to clean up while I’m doing something in the kitchen or my workshop. Those aren’t my Legos or dolls! Those aren’t my clothes left in a heap on the living room floor. That stack of mail doesn’t have my name on it. Ugh! Then when company wants to come over, there’s the 5-hour, really stressful blitz to get everything picked up. With Christmas coming, who wants to deal with that??? I want to decorate on my schedule, not be cleaning instead.
It showed up in a homeschooling group: The Fly Lady Holiday Control Journal, which promises to help one conquer cleaning, making gifts, baking, hosting, and shopping. Seems like a pretty audacious claim, doesn’t it? The Fly Lady premise tackles cleaning in small, 15-minute chunks, claiming you can do anything for fifteen minutes.
As soon as I discovered and printed off this journal (it’s in a handy .pdf), I sat the family down and said, “This is what we’re going to do.” I don’t want to be stressed this Advent season, and I want to be doing something other than last-minute present making/assembling on Christmas Eve. The Troops got it. We’ve done the 15-minute blitzes twice now; the only problem we face is, some of us don’t want to stop once the 15 minutes are up; a still-cluttered space – just this morning, in fact – can make one of us say, “But that area still needs to be cleaned.” That was my older daughter. I know the struggle, but I say, “Nope. We’ll come back to it after moving on.” At the end of each blitz, I make everyone come into the room. I ask them to remember what the room looked like before we started, then have them take a good look at what it looks like now. What do they think of it? Everyone agrees that there’s a lot of improvement.
We’re a family of four, and the children are both old enough to help clean. No one wants to be stuck cleaning a room by her- or himself, so if the room is big enough, we all tackle it together. Think about it: Fifteen minutes times four people… That’s like an hour’s worth of cleaning in that one room! Darn straight, there’s a lot of improvement in a short amount of time! I was even able to seize a teachable moment by grabbing one of the teaching clocks and explaining this concept to my younger daughter. It’s like a competition against the clock – how much cleaning can we do before the timer goes off? That means there is very little second-guessing – things get thrown away, there’s little squabbling over “that’s not mine” (it all gets put away), and there’s a real sense of teamwork. At the end of it, I get the cleaner home I want, I get the help I need, none of us are spending all day cleaning, leaving us free to enjoy other activities. That’s a win all the way around!