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Challenge: Cabin Fever

How To Get a (Sorta) Shining Clean House

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After long winter days of being cooped up in the house, one thing is definitely true – the house needs to be cleaned – even though no one feels like it.

When I need some serious house cleaning inspiration, I turn to this lady and her 15 minute rule. I tweak things a bit, though, to make it equitable and fun (sorta) for my kids. Usually, we have 5 people cleaning and 15 tasks to be done. In the 15-minute world, the whole house will be shining clean (sorta) in 45 minutes. Plus, your family will have endured enjoyed some quality bonding time.

Here’s what we do:

Before Cleaning the House:

  • Make a list of everything you need cleaned around the house.
  • Divide that list into tasks that can be accomplished in 15 minutes.
  • For example,
    • Vacuum the stairs
    • Scrub the powder room
    • Windex the interior downstairs windows
    • Dust all the woodwork
    • Dust the furniture
    • Empty all trash cans in the house and replace bags
    • Vacuum the downstairs
    • Mop the wood floors
    • Wash the exterior of the kitchen cabinets
    • Vacuum interior of the car and clean interior windows
  • After you have the tasks, write them on index cards with any directions you feel are needed.
  • Assemble all children to what they think will be a fun breakfast and announce that the house is too messy and it is going to be cleaned now. Do not indulge groaning.
    • Reassure them that the whole thing will be finished in 45 minutes…ignore their skepticism.
  • Now assign them their jobs. You know who does which things the best, and it saves on whining if you just tell them what to do.
  • Place all essential cleaning supplies on the counter.

Cleaning the House Time:

  • Blast some music for an energy burst.
    • IMPORTANT! Do not allow your children to wear headphones and sulk around listening to their own music – that will wreck the esprit de corps of the whole thing.
  • Set the timer and GO. Give everyone a halfway there heads up and a 2-minute warning.
  • At the end of the 15 minutes, children should collapse exhausted while mom checks up on everyone’s work.
    • Repeat 2x or as needed.

After Cleaning the House:

  • Put away all cleaning supplies.
  • Enjoy the clean house.

When it is all over, I give you permission to go in your room and shut the door -because probably, that was enough family esprit de corps for a while.

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Maureen Paschal is a freelance writer, a teacher-librarian, and a mom of four almost grown kids. She blogs at Raising The Capable Student where her goal is helping parents to keep family life a priority and school success in perspective. Her work has been featured in On Parenting from the Washington Post, Grown and Flown, Perfection Pending, and Today Parents.

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