My home can get pretty cluttered, very fast. With so many people running around doing their own projects (and many not cleaning up after themselves) it can get out of hand quickly. But, I’ve found a solution that helps declutter the home in the short term, and fast!
It’s called The Line Up. It’s pretty simple, really. When I feel overwhelmed because everywhere I look there’s something that needs to be put away or cleaned up, I stop what I’m doing and just yell “Line Up!”.
Literally, everyone stops and lines up according to age. It can be quite the sight and pretty fun for the little ones as it helps them feel like big kids.
Then, the fun begins.
I start yelling various jobs that I want done, starting from oldest to youngest usually. The jobs can range from vacuuming to wiping off the table to picking up the broken crayon on the floor. As soon as they are finished with the job I give them they are then instructed to immediately line back up for another job. I just stand in the same spot the whole time and basically manage the jobs.
Having me stay and conduct the Line Up is important because if I help with the job’s then the children tend to get distracted and not line back up. Of course, they will occasionally get distracted anyways, but that’s the reason why it’s important for mom to stay put and manage the line up, to discourage this from happening.
Examples of jobs I’d give the older kids (approx. 8 on up) during a line up
- Swish and Swipe (see www.flylady.net for more info on that term)
- Vacuum the family room and my bedroom (the remaining carpet in the home)
- Wipe off the counters with cleaners
- Make my bed (yes, I will sometimes even ask them to do that depending on what kind of a morning we are having)
- Take out the laundry room garbage (including putting in a fresh bag)
- Take out the kitchen garbage (including putting in a fresh bag)
- Feed a particular animal
- Take out the laundry and sort it
- Do a laundry load transfer
- Fold some laundry
- Change the baby’s diaper
Examples of jobs I’d give the younger kids (approx. 7 on down) during a line up
- Pick up the spilled crayons and put them away
- Make their beds
- Brush their hair
- Take out the bathroom garbage (including putting in a fresh bag)
- Fold rags/towels and put them away
- Fill the kitchen drawer with rags and towels
- Fold ten pieces of laundry and put them away
- Sweep off the front/back porch
- Put the shoes left out onto the shelf in the garage
These are all examples of jobs. Also, there are lots of crossover. Sometimes I’ll have my seven year old make my bed (imperfectly, I know) or the 16 year old fill the kitchen rag drawer. As long as everything gets cleaned up and decluttered I really don’t care who does it!
Teaches Delegation and Obedience
This way of delegating jobs also teaches children how to obey orders given by someone in charge of them. Instant obedience is important, especially when there is an emergency. It may not sound like much but you’d be surprised how little practices like this can help a child learn the importance of obedience.
Eventually, you will find your older teens adopting this method of cleaning up the home when they are babysitting. When Ed and I are on a date and the kids are expecting us home soon they usually do a Line Up to spruce the place up for us. This is thoughtful for them to do this for us and it makes their babysitting job easier on them.
Cleaning up your home like this is a fast way of decluttering your home and your mind. Not only will it mentally help you have a better day but it teaches your children that they are contributing members of the family. It teaches them that there will be fewer messes to clean up if they cleaned up after themselves AND that it’s okay to help someone else clean up their mess (like the crayons the 3-year-old left out).
Not only that but it teaches that many hands make light work!! 🙂