As I’m sure you can imagine, 8 people living and working in one house all day everyday can lead to some pretty big messes. Even with regular chores and clean-up times, there are just days that the fort building encroaches beyond friendly borders or the “toy store” is looted and vandalized by munchkins. Over the years we’ve developed a few strategic “games” to lessen the resistance of the people:
1. Assign everyone a color to clean up. The efficient mom will also count this as “school time” for the toddlers.
2. Shout out random numbers of items to put away; keep them small and varied. For my kids who are particularly overwhelmed easily, it really helps to break it in to small chunks. They report for their next number as soon as they’ve completed their mission. Again, “school time” it’s counting, isn’t it?
3. Play secret spy clean-up. Have people try to put certain items away without being seen by someone else.
4. Give them grown up tools to “play” with. Our little $9 stick vac is a favorite and it’s only sucking up dirt, not spreading it around. Kids can do a lot with wipes, sponges, mini-brooms, and dusters.
5. Clean up train. Follow Dad around in a line and pick up items as you go delivering them to their proper places.
6. Clean up musical. Another Chris invention. Pretend you’re in a musical, singing and dancing to made up songs while you clean.
7. This last one is my favorite. It’s for the older kids (readers) and takes a little more time to set up; but the pay off is excellent and a lot of fun. Write out several jobs on separate pieces of paper and write out several surprises on separate pieces of paper, one set for each kid. Fold the papers and put each set in a separate bowl. Have them draw one paper at a time and do what it says until the papers are all out. For example, one kid’s bowl might have: Put away 20 shirts. Eat a marshmallow. Clean trash out of the van. Pick up 13 toys in the basement. Kiss Mommy. Jump on the bed 6 times. Sweep the schoolroom. Tell all of your siblings you love them.