In a Nutshell: Cleaning the house isn’t usually up there on our top ten fun holiday activities. But with a little creativity, you can send Scrooge packing and create a house full of helpful little elves.
Christmas company is coming and the house isn’t ready. Kids make one mess as quickly as you clean one up and are as helpful as a dead snail. Your nostrils start flaring and your blood pressure starts bubbling. Suddenly, your house is occupied by the Mommy Monster. This strange creature shouts out orders, delivers demands, and passes out threats about throwing away all the fudge (gasp) if the house isn’t clean before Grandma gets here. Merry Christmas indeed.
It doesn’t have to be that way! While it will always be a challenge to motivate children to work instead of play, maybe some of the following ideas will help you keep the Mommy Monster hidden safely away in the closet and still get the house spiffed up for the holidays.
Organizational guru Marla Cilley (aka the FlyLady) wisely teaches, “You can’t organize clutter.” Now is the perfect time to get rid of that extra stuff that makes it so hard to clean up! FlyLady gives parents a fabulous tool called a “Boogie.” A Boogie is a quick visit to a room to collect junk to donate or throw away. Make a game of out de-cluttering and see how much you can fling! You can set a goal for a number of items to get rid of, or try to fill a whole bag. Put your donation bag in the car to drop off at your local shelter or Goodwill and toss the trash. Let go of the clutter now and you’ll thank yourself Christmas Morning! (For more information on managing CHAOS with FlyLady’s fun system, visit her website.)
2. The Great Race
Most kids will fall for the “Beat Mom” trick. Challenge your kids to get done with their list of chores before you finish yours. You can also play girls versus boys or divide into teams. Grab a cheap trophy from the thrift store when you go to donate your junk, and let the winner get bragging rights and display privileges for the trophy. Next time, help someone else win. You may be surprised how much work you can get out of your kids for the opportunity to show off a $1.99 bowling trophy!
3. Make-Believe Magic
Is your child in princess mode? Play “Tidy up the Castle” and pretend that you are maids hurrying to prepare for the Queen’s visit. Go ahead and put on an apron yourself and take on the role of head housekeeper. Besides, you really can’t chew anyone out if you are talking in a British accent.
If your little one is into space, be astronauts and decontaminate the planet by removing toxic slime from the bathroom sink. If they are all about robots, program “Pick up the legos” into their control panel (which must conclude with a good tickle on their belly button). Fly around like a butterfly, stomp around like a dinosaur, or give a sweet Ninja kick. Whatever it takes to keep them working and you smiling!
4. Energy Pills
When the kids start dragging on big chore days (like, after 7 minutes), a little treat is sometimes all it takes to buy another 7 minutes or so. I pair the treat with some good positive reinforcement. I freely admit to using M&M’s on occasion, but more health-conscious parents can substitute raisins or another healthy snack. Ask who needs more energy, pop a little treat in their mouth, and praise your children for how quickly they are working. Then, go into the closet to finish the rest of the bag of M&M’s and praise yourself for not yelling at your kids :).
5. Dance the Job Done
Crank up your favorite Christmas tunes and dance your way to a clean house! If kids see you model happiness and efficiency in cleaning, it will buy you way more compliance than the Mommy Monster storming from room to room shouting out orders and criticizing your kids’ efforts. Lighten up and have some fun. Music is a great mood-enhancer, and can help remind you that the holidays are about more than clean ceiling fixtures and fingerprint-free doors. It is about loving those around us and making our home a happy place to be. So relax, plan some games ahead of time, and have some fun while you get the job done.