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When the house is in shambles, I don’t focus well on my work. It’s really hard to sit down and write when I keep catching glimpses of messes out of the corners of my eyes.
So now before I hit the computer, we have a quick clean time. When done correctly, 15-minutes is all the time you need to make a huge difference in the state of your house.
But, it took me a long time to learn how to do these quick cleans right. Here’s a peek at how our 15-minute cleanups used to look:
The 15-Minute Quick Clean Routine That Didn’t Work
I’d set a timer, and shout “GO CLEAN!”
Then everyone looked at me like I was a crazy lady. So I started giving out orders like a drill instructor.
“Pick up the shoes,” I’d say to one child.
“Clean that corner.” I’d direct another.
Order after order after order. A stream of redirections and encouragements to stay on task kept coming, one on top of the other. They only ended when the timer beeped. Then I’d stop and look around and wonder if we’d actually made the mess worse.
I was exhausted and frustrated, wondering why my kids couldn’t stay on task for fifteen minutes.
And sometimes, I’d start the timer again. Because the house was still messy and I still couldn’t focus.
It was driving me crazy!
So I Made a Change
One day, I grabbed the broom at the start of our fifteen minute cleanup. I was planning on sweeping the crumbs out from underneath the desk.
But, I also swept out a couple of shoes, some LEGOs, and some other random stuff. The kids panicked, thinking I was going to sweep those up and throw them away too.
So they ran over, and picked out the good stuff. Then they went and put them away.
I moved around the room, sweeping everything into piles on the floor.
The kids followed me, picking out all the “good stuff” and putting it away. By the time the timer beeped that day, I just had a couple of piles of stuff that actually needed thrown away left to sweep up.
The house was in good shape otherwise.
And I sat down to write without having a huge cleaning to-do list in the back of my mind.
The Broom Works!
Now, when it’s time for our daily cleaning, I always grab the broom. I walk around the kitchen, dining room, and living room, making piles. The kids move from pile to pile, picking up stuff and putting it away.
I no longer have to direct traffic. Or bark out orders.
You see, there’s something about seeing your belongings in a dirt pile on the floor that provides motivation.The kids know the piles go in the trash at the end of our cleaning. So they work fast to ensure there’s nothing good in them.
Even my toddlers know that toys in the pile need put away. So they help! And I don’t have to keep telling them what to do. It’s always the same.
Pick up the stuff in the pile. Then put that stuff away.
Eliminates Clutter Blindness
Kids have a hard time noticing clutter. If there are objects sticking out from under the couch, most of my kids aren’t even going to notice.
They easily go blind to clutter.
But, the broom pushes all that clutter out into the open. It takes away the hiding places where it tends to blend in.
And as a bonus, my kids are slowly starting to become better at picking these things out on their own. When we’re just doing chores, they’re starting to notice other tasks that need done. It’s been a nice change!
Moving Beyond the Basics
Some days, 15 minutes is enough time for us to do even more. If we still have time left when all the piles are off the floor, we move on. We’ll:
- Scrub a wall or two
- Move the couches and clean under them
- Dump water mixed with floor cleaner on the floor and skate around on towels to mop it up
- Wash a couple of windows
These extras make a huge difference in the state of our house, and it feels so good to get them done.
Some More Tips for a Successful 15 Minute Cleanup
The broom was the biggest game changer in making our 15-minute cleanup successful. But, here are some other things that make it work even better:
- Add music. It keeps everyone moving a bit faster and sets the mood.
- Contain the baby. My youngest thinks my sweepings are a grand buffet just for him. So, now we put him in his playpen for our cleanup. This also keeps him from making new messes right behind us.
- Finish the job you’re on when the timer beeps. Because finishing is important!
- Some days need two quick cleans. Messes happen, especially with kids!
- Five minutes are better than none. Do not not clean because you don’t have fifteen minutes. You can do a lot in a short period of time.
It Adds Up
15-minutes doesn’t seem like much, but when you multiply that time by everyone who is working, it really adds up. If four kids really stick to cleaning for the whole time along with me, that’s an hour worth of cleaning done on the house. It’s huge!
And when we do this quick clean routine consistently, our house stays so much cleaner.
Do You Have a Quick Cleaning Period?
I’d love to hear how you handle quick cleans in your house. Drop me a line in the comments and tell me about your experience.
Do you turn into a drill sergeant like I used to? Do you think you’ll try my sweeping method?
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Lisa Tanner is a former teacher turned homeschooling mom with 11 kids. She's also a successful freelance writer. Lisa enjoys helping other busy moms find time to start and grow a side hustle of their own.