Wednesday, March 19, 2008

WFMW: 5-minute Pick-Up

It is my solemn duty to bequeath wisdom upon my readers in the form of a Works for Me Wednesday post each week. For more of my brilliance, check my WFMW archive. To find out what others are thinking, go to Rocks in My Dryer.

Let me start by telling you what does not work for me -- cleaning the house for 15 minutes straight. Flylady might tell you that "you can do anything for 15 minutes," but it just ain't happening here. Blame it on a busy schedule, four small children, or my minuscule attention span, but by the time 15 minutes has elapsed I have gotten sidetracked three times over. The normal stuff of life happens -- a diaper needs to be changed, a toddler needs a bandaid, the IM notification beeps... you get the picture.

What is manageable, however, is cleaning for 5 minutes. Okay, not cleaning, exactly, but managing the mess. I set a timer and walk around the house putting things back where they belong. I set aside 5 minute increments throughout the day -- after lunch, before dinner, and as the kids go to bed -- and also "take 5" as the mess demands. 5 minutes is also, coincidentally, the same amount of time that a 5-year old child spends in time out, so my timer is frequently already set for the correct increment. I even use my little darling's time outs as an opportunity to tidy up a bit.

I have recently started getting the kids in one the game - setting the timer and seeing if they can get a small job done in that time. On good days, Agent 002 is very excited when he can "beat" the timer. Even on bad days, it sets a limit on the kids' defiance I set the timer, and let them clean. I do not nag except to notify them when they have two minutes left. At the end of five minutes I put any remaining toys out in cold storage for the rest of the week. Cruel, yes, but it gives them great incentive to get the job done.

Here is an example of a mess-induced 5-minute-pick-up. This is our art room at 11:17 and 11:22 this morning. It still doesn't sparkle, but it "works for me."
Updated at 12:05 pm to include pictures


Kate in NJ said...

LOL, Sounds like us...without all the little ones about of course..and no diapers any more..but the five minutes..oh yeah.;-)

Heart of Wisdom said...

Sounds like you are making progress.
Good Job Mom!

Kate in NJ said...

You get a lot done in 5 minutes!
I'm impressed.

Rockin' Moroccan Mama said...

HAHA Love it. The before and after picture.