Let me tell you what I faced this morning: a Mt. Washmore of at least 4 loads rivaled only by the peak of dishes in the sink (oh, and did I mention that the dishwasher is broken?), a floor that would be a dream come true for someone on the edge of starvation, and bedrooms that looked like a toy store exploded inside them.
I knew it all had to get done, and I knew I couldn't lock up my children in a closet while I did it, so I turned to my greatest inspiration, FlyLady, for guidance and direction in this my time of need. I implemented one of her favorite sayings- "You can do anything for 15 minutes!"- and planned a Timer Day.
Timer Day has 3 Rules:
1. Alternate between 15 minutes of family playtime and 15 minutes of Mommy work time- set the timer, and when it beeps- SWITCH! (and reset the timer for another 15 mintues)
2. Children must stay downstairs during Mommy's work time. If they don't, Mommy might not hear the timer on the stove and we'll miss out on playtime! When the timer goes off, it's the kids' job to tell Mommy, and it's Mommy's job to drop what she's doing and go PLAY! (this would also work to keep kids in a playroom or a bedroom)
3. There is a 1-warning system in place. If Mommy hears fighting during her work time, she will give a warning. If the fighting continues, she will send both children to their rooms to play alone until the next family playtime.
These rules actually proved to be quite effective today! I conquered both Mt. Washmore and Dishes Peak, the smorgasboard on the kitchen floor got devoured by the vacuum cleaner and licked clean by the mop, and the toy store shrapnel was safely put back into toy boxes and on shelves where it was rendered harmless to bedrooms everywhere.
But the best part?
My kids and I built a magnificent castle out of blocks, had a roaring round of pass-the-ball-and-pretend-to-be-an-animal, played a highly competitive game of CandyLand, and read 6 books together.
It was a win-win situation. My home was clean, my kids felt happy and loved, and I felt at peace knowing I could strike a balance between the two and fulfill my responsibilities as both a homemaker and a mother. And after naptime, my 4-year-old said, "Mommy, can we do another timer day again PLEASE?"
I think I may just have to do that. :-)
Have you found any effective strategies for cleaning and corralling children at the same time? If so, please share in the comments section!