Thursday, February 17, 2011

Behind the Scenes: Lost and Found

Clean up.  Clean up.  Everybody do your share.

Behind the scenes we all have little tips and quirks that make our houses run.  This time, I have decided to share a few about straightening up (a.k.a. "hiding crap") at our house.  My goal is to get everyone to kick in so that the kids learn to take care of their things and I don't get so overwhelmed by the mess that only 6 people and a dog can make.  I'd also love some feedback from you how you handle it at your house.

My newest favorite...the "Lost and Found."

This is most useful when we are in a hurry and when I see little things all over the main floor of our house.   The "Lost and Found" works just like it sounds.  I use the tray on our ottoman or an empty laundry basket and just put all of the "lost" items in the basket and notify the family that the items have been "found" and need to be put away, in order to prevent them being lost forever (I really haven't had to go this far.).  As you can see, even the lovely husband is not exempt from my madness.  Those are his tools and duct tape in there.

Now the basement (a.k.a. the toy dungeon) is a different story.  Since "out of sight is out of mind" rings true in regards to the basement, sometimes clean up down there takes more time yet occurs less often.  The good 'ole clean up songs don't work well anymore for my kids.  Basically, it works best if I give them each a zone or a specific type of toy to clean up so that they aren't in each others faces, which leads to trouble.   After a generous amount of time (usually twice as long as it should take 3 able-bodied children to complete), I give them a 5 minute warning.  At the end of that time, they hear me rustling a Kroger bag and they scatter like frenzied mice to grab anything left out.  What is left on the floor goes in the bag and goes away for a while.  One time, I actually found a bag of confiscated toys out in the garage and realized that my strategy was a little overly successful.   I am not terribly proud of the panic-inducing Kroger bag strategy but it works when necessary. 

On a more peaceful note, sometimes we just do a 10 minute clean up together as a family.  You can always come back and do another 10 minutes again later.  Also, my friend Jean taught me to say, "Everyone see if you can pick up 10 things. Go."  No matter what I do, I have to make sure that task is broken down or they get overwhelmed and don't want to start at all.  The kids and I are proud of ourselves when everything is in its place...for 5 whole minutes before it starts all over again. 

How do you manage clean-up at your house?

1 comment:

Dana said...

If after I have given the clean-up instruction twice and it's still left out, item goes into a 24 hour lockdown.