When I made the transition to working at home, I envisioned a perfectly clean house because after all, I will be there to keep it nice. That might work in theory, but throw a few kids into the mix and the situation can spiral quickly out of control!
I learned to manage my home by implementing the following ideas. Some days are definitely better than others, but every little bit helps!
Meals are a great motivator. I cannot reasonably expect every room to be spotless every moment of every day, but I can set up boundaries. My kids know that they can pull out their art supplies, games and toys in the morning, but before lunch the room has to be put back in order. The same rule can be applied to dinner proving the point that meals are a great motivator.
Give advance warning. Transitions are easier with a warning. Ten minutes is just enough time to start making the mental switch necessary to clean up. Some kids work well with a timer, others just need the warning.
One thing at a time. I know how overwhelming a messy room can feel. Choose one type of object to clean up at a time to make the project more manageable. "Gather all the stuffed animals and put them in the bin" is easier to understand than "Clean up this mess!"
Tom Sawyer them into work. Turning up the music during clean up time and putting a smile on can completely change the attitude in your home surrounding cleaning. Instead of my kids mimicking my frustration, they started having fun with clean up.
Schedule cleaning. Aside from having to clean up before meals, we also have a master plan on the family calendar. Just like in years gone by, a portion of each day is dedicated to a particular task. A portion of Monday is spent cleaning the bathrooms; more than the quick daily clean up. Tuesdays means kitchen cupboards are straightened. On Wednesday we wash the dog and on Thursdays we clean out the refrigerator and so on. This method works well for us.
Make a wish. When I read about this idea I instantly loved it. Making wishes is a big deal in my family. We blow dandelions and toss coins into fountains, make wishes on stars, and put birthday candle on practically everything the birthday child eats on his special day just so they can gather more wishes. Using this basic idea comes naturally. One day I simply walked through a messy area in the hall and "made a wish" that it would be clean, (in earshot of my child of course.) A few minutes later it was picked up and I made a big deal over the magic in the house. This one won't work forever and it can only be used sparingly, but it can be a fun alternative.
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