Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Ten Minute Tidy



I’m pretty sure I have never, ever said this blog was all about the craft. I wouldn’t have thrown myself into that sort of deep end what with everything else going on, plus the steep learning curves, including the very recent discovery of the function of a free motion foot (nothing, as it turns out, to do with Rolf Harris or Jake the Peg).

Recently, my six year old, who has been having an all ’round tough time of things lately, forcefully declared that school was horrible because he hated pack-up time. And so it was, that a piece of straw came from out of the blue and broke this camel’s back. Enough was enough. Time for this kid, this family, to get over themselves and embrace the neat. Neat-ish.

For nigh on the last month we have had an all-in, rowdy, manic, around-the-house tidy, straight after dinner. There is cheerleading, there is coaching, there are (usually) high fives at the end. There is a timer. All together now, everybody: THE TIMER IS OUR FRIEND! Providing everyone puts in real effort, ten minutes is all we do. Sometimes we don’t finish, but when the timer rings, the kitchen is clean, the dishwasher is on, the main living areas vacuumed and toys put away. And for the rest of that day, that is enough.

One night the Mr and I were too tired to contemplate the Ten Minute Tidy. We gave it a miss and after the kids went to bed, we spent a few hours working in the studio. As midnight approached we started a clean up to get us through breakfast the next day. It took us a good forty minutes. Never again. We are heavily into this sort of child labour.

Even though we have been going less than a month, it is a theory that is working on a whole lot of levels:

1. The kids know we are not going to randomly or spontaneously demand house cleaning (= less parent nagging/kid whinging).

2. Ten minutes is long enough to hold small person concentration, maintain some sort of enthusiasm for the cleaning (did I mention the cheerleading?) and still get a surprising amount of stuff done.

3. It’s been good for me learning to let go of the perfectionist gene. Which would I prefer? To have the seven year old wipe down the table and miss a couple of spots? Or have 100% of the table spotless because I cleaned it myself, from now until eternity? An absolute no-brainer. Besides, with all the practise, there are now less missed spots. And, and it’s a big ‘and’ – the kid feels capable.



4. Daily vacuuming may seem excessive, but I am constantly dumbstruck by the amount of sandpit that can be crammed inside a pair of kid shoes. Besides, there has to be some clean-up fun (like watching sucked-up bits whizzing around the inside of the vacuum cleaner).

5. With all that housework done, I can get away with more craft time. I told you this blog was all about the craft.

6. Everyone works, everyone reaps the benefit, everyone appreciates the effort. There’s just a few issues to work through with the two year old Chief Shoe Put Away-er...

48 comments:

shannon said...

Im totally going to do this. With a timer, may even get the boyfriend to play trumpet as we finish...

Cass said...

I love this idea. I am going to implement it tonight

Linda said...

what a great idea and a great post! the last bit cracked me up... don't worry, even when they are 16 they have the same kind of tidy up ideas

sophie said...

we do pretty much the same thing here, the main reason we started it was because the 5 year old honestly thought that housework was for a mother to do, she could not fathom why that she, or anyone else should do any...that freaked me out, now we ALL have to clean. It's not always done with a happy heart but I think they are getting slowly used to it.

Angus in Northcote said...

God bless you and your brilliance! North of the river implementation begins this evening.

Clementine's Shoes said...

Oh so sensible and clever!! I must remember this idea for when our 2yo is older than 2yo. It's amazing how simple, established little routines in the day (or week) can make such a difference to everyone's happiness and general sanity. Long may it last!

Cindy said...

Dear Myrtle and Eunice Cleaning Extravoganza, Could you please attend our house from 7:30-7:45 (5min allowance for tardiness). Thank you very much.
Bug and Pop Household

ick and ooo said...

I have never been one for neatness myself - in fact I found a lone sock in the buggy this morning (loved your post on odd socks)

But lately I have been whizzing around the house with the hand held vacuum cleaner trying to maintain some standard - as with the sunnier weather there seems to be MORE mud and sand (not to mention little lego pieces etc). I worry I am turning into my mother particularly when the little one reached for a container of green playdoh this morning 'Nooooooooo' I screamed.

I find I have a threshold of mess - usually peaking on a Thursday night.

One Flew Over said...

Fab idea! I wonder how long it will take docs to come a knocking when I employ the 18 month old to start cleaning?

Sandra @ Pepperberry & Co. said...

Love it! Now if only I could use some of your child labour techniques to enforce pet labour... I reckon Tango could do a great job with little mops attached to his feet :-)

FWOG. A blog. By Fi and Wendy. said...

T
I'm sure that UN convention about child labour is just a lot of malarkey anyway...

I see no problem with that shoe-box picture, either.

W

mrs smith said...

I'm off to buy a timer now. The Smith house clean up event will begin at six o'clock nightly. And I really hope Shannon get's the boyfriend to play trumpet ... the luthier could play jazz bass as we clean for ambience, but unfortunately he'll be doing the dishes.

Anne Thompson said...

Hi Tania,
I've just discovered your blog and your post today made me laugh out loud - I reckon you're doing pretty well to get the two year old to come to the party at all! I'm not sure mine would be so co-operative.

Terri said...

The best thing about your shoe picture is the big green monster foot in the drawer! i love it. lol!

Cath from chunkychooky said...

Brilliant idea!!! Might get Busy onto it tonight!!

natalie said...

Way to go Tania, with this idea world peace, ok, not world peace but peace in the palace (mine) could be achieved. lol, do you plan on more parenting ideas cause i sure could use them.

Tracy P said...

Tania, you are inspired! I've been lurking for a while now but the sheer genius of this idea brought me out into the open. My children are about to learn a whole lot of new skills...

Kate said...

6 is the hardest age for kids in our house. Terrible two's have nothing on sucky sixes!

CurlyPops said...

Drats - I don't have any child labour to boss around to do a 10 minute tidy!
I am however going to email a link to my sister to see if she could get her brood to do it.

Gina said...

You had me at 'ten-minute'.
xx G

willywagtail said...

You totally have this worked out. You will be so thankful in later years. Very clever Mum. Cherrie

Nikki said...

That's genius. Pure and simple.

My wee girl's idea of tidying is looking for the next clear surface upon which to dump things from a heavily-piled-with-stuff surface. Wonder where she learned that one...?

Anne-Lise at Rag, Tag, Bobtail said...

Great idea! Shame my kids have flown.... but I'm working on the dogs now...

chaletgirl said...

You're a great Mum! Want to hear what I am guilty of? Getting my four year old to do this by himself. 10 minutes of picking his toys off the floor and whatever is left goes in the bin. That's right, goes in the bin. (Although I do make sure to help with his very favourites).

I do think the team approach is better. Mine seems, a little, shall we say, harsh?

two little buttons said...

i love it. i'm off to buy a timer tomorrow and start implementing. what a great fun (ish)way of getting a mundane chore like cleaning done.
thanks for posting.

modernemotive said...

Sounds like a great idea.

I wonder if I can get to work on my dogs. Hmmmm.... licking the floor clean, swiffer sheets on their paws etc! :)

Cute as Buttons said...

Oh my stars! I think you are the Australian version of Flylady.(flylady.net) We have a similar activity nightly but decided to implement your title and timing with mixed success: 5yr old leapt about the place with disinfectant in hand and was moderately useful, 2yr old male responded to cheering and directions and joined in with vim and vigour, 2yr old girl actually said, "NO!" and took herself off to the playroom. She did come back with the piano and proceeded to compose a lovely piece of music to accompany our busyness. I guess we all have different gifts! Lisa.

Kylie said...

Oh wow... I am so impressed! We have the do your chores and then you'll get your pocket money thing... but, do you know, I don't remember the last time they got pocket money! ;) Mine are older obviously, but I contemplate the last sentence with a sinking heart... how privileged are they that they can so easily go without pocket money in order to not do any work...? Hmmm... new rules needed here I think. I really like your idea of the timer. Thanks for this Tania - another good one :) K

p.s. OMG! my word verification word is "SLOTH" - can you believe it??!!

Nikki Cardigan said...

You can stand tall and proud as you hear 10 minute timers going off all around you! A great idea Tania....

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

Well done ! An effective tidy-up , with everyone joining in and a time limit geared to everyone's attention span . Then a nice relaxed evening for one and all . Nirvana .

cindy said...

i may need to start doing this with my family since we seem to wait till the weekend and by then everything is a mess!

Grace said...

Nice idea. I agree with #4 - where does all the dirt/sand/small plants/dust/grime COME from so fast?

Nowheymama said...

What a great idea! And I love the two-year old's winter hat.

TopCat76 said...

A great idea!! I think it's a little early in the day to be getting my 9 month old in on this, but I definitley will!!

--ginger. said...

We do this as TUNE TIDY. We've picked one song (for us is The Gap Band's "You Dropped a Bomb on Me") and we clean up JUST for the length of the song. So it's really just about 3 and a half minutes. And it also involves LOTS of running around and cheerleading and everyone yelling THE SONG'S ALMOST OVER THE SONG'S ALMOST OVER. It manages to at least get all the crap in the front of the house back to the right rooms in the back of the house. I love it--though I think with ten minutes instead of 4 I could have a much cleaner house. Plus, your kids aren't going to twitch when they're 20 and they hear a Gap Band song. Love that you do it every night. Hmmmmm.....

Haitian-American Family of Three said...

We do this too! Every night a little rushed pick up and its really taught our 2.5 year old to "clean up" after herself. The only downside is finding things like important mail shoved under the baby dolls bed weeks later...or my house keys in the bathroom garbage can...

A Spoonful Of Sugar said...

Love your "All In Group Challenge" - way to go I say! The shoe pic is priceless:)

Cheeky Little Monsters said...

Awesome :)

Madeline said...

I can't tell you how much I love this idea. I need more and slightly older munchkins so that I can better implement it. ;)

PaisleyJade said...

Thank you so much - you have saved my sanity... with 4 kids and a messy husband I just may be able to pull this off!

Anonymous said...

if it works for you and all these other girls seem to embrace the idea, well l too am going for the timer!!! bring it on!! lis

Umatji said...

I love that you have over 40 comments on this - it struck a cord! We love the timer in this house also - although at this stage I don't have the clean up problem - W loves it and I generally have to arm wrestle the vacuum off him and sometimes have to tell him NOT to pack his toys up! Mad world.
x

Megan.K. said...

Love this idea. I;m going to get a timer too. I'm a bit too heavy sometimes on the spontaneous let's clean the house nagging...
x

Bianca said...

I had to scroll a way to get down here to the bottom of your gazillion comments...turns out the crafty kids like a bit of dirty talk. Anyway I was just going to say that I know someone else who puts shoes away like that and he's a lot older than 2!

PottyMouthMama said...

I am ABSOLUTELY without doubt starting this as of tomorrow. I've had a meltdown of sorts - because I wind up doing everything, including EVERYTHING. Did I mention I do everything? Not that it's a sore point. It's just that I do everything. Tomorrow is when the war begins.

Alisa said...

Oh are you serious!! Great idea, yep craft blog turned parenting blog in just seconds. And how is it possible to hide a bucket full of sandpit in a two year olds maryjane?! OMG you are suddenly somewhere between kindred spirit and domestic-goddess!! : )

Anna Bartlett said...

I am going to get myself a timer with a really loud ring. Tomorrow. Definitely. Thank you for the inspiration. Now, what can you give me for weight loss?

Tas said...

OK I'm off to search for my cheerleading outfit. Oh, this suddenly isn't as attractive a proposition. Maybe I'll try it a few times without the cheerleading outfit!