July 25, 2012

How I Trick Myself Into Cleaning My House


I'm showing you my house from this angle today because it's the only area of the house that is clean.  

Five kids, a husband, 2 blogs, meals from scratch, and a clean house?   No way. 

In fact, having a spotless house isn't even in my priorities right now.  But I do like for it to be tidy enough that when I hear a car coming down the road I don't have to hope and pray that it isn't a surprise visitor about to turn down our driveway!  And to keep it (almost) presentable I, well, um...I play a little game with myself.

During the day, before I move from one task (for example, feeding the kids lunch) to another task (like checking my facebook) I make myself pick up or clean 100 things.

I know that 100 sounds like a lot, but really it isn't.  Every dish I put in the dishwasher, every clean dish I put away, every piece of laundry I fold or sock I pick up off the floor counts as one thing.  100 things goes by quickly, but makes a big dent in the number of things hanging over my head.  And by the end of the day I've done hundreds of little things that amounts to a home that I can relax in, without even feeling like I've done much tidying up at all!

I even get the kids in on it, although I give them a smaller number.   Before we start an activity they really want to do (such as reading a chapter from the Little House series) I will announce that everyone has to pick up 15 things and put them away. My 2 year doesn't count out fifteen items, he just cleans while his sisters clean and then stops when they stop. Even the 1 year old twins will (sometimes) start putting toys in the toy buckets if they see that everybody else is cleaning up!

How about you?  Do you ever trick yourself into cleaning the house?


69 comments:

  1. I set the timer for an hour or just 30 minutes sometimes and then work as fast as I can to see how much I can get done. Other times, I make myself finish a task (dishes, load of laundry, etc.) before I go on to something else.

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    1. I love the timer method! I do the same and listen to a podcast so I feel like I'm doing something "fun" with my brain while cleaning.

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    2. I will do the same thing. But mostly on the room my Husband call (the man cave) when in accualety it's just a collect all room. It's bad and I get overwhelmed when I walk in there. So this past week I have set the trimmer for just 10 min. And clean organize

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  2. Yup, I do it on commercials at night or I start from one end of the house and work towards the other. Once I get one small area clean I can't help but want the rest to look good too....it's all in my head but it works lol I also do the 10 things a day with my kids, "go in your room and pick up ten items, then find a home for them " which could be to donate, toss, or keep.

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    1. I hate cleaning but like you said, once I get one thing clean I want everything else to match so I just keep on going!

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    2. I do exactly the same and I find this better than keeping a count.

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    3. Love this idea!!! I need to do this.

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  3. Great idea! I need to try this!

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  4. What a great tip! I love to read this and follow your example the last four weeks from our holiday. Thank you!

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  5. I try to clean as I go as well but we all know ow that works with children screaming or hanging off of us. So I also do the "commercials" at night biz, I'll lay on the couch to "unwind" and every time a commercial comes on I have to clean like mad. No channel flipping here.... lol

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  6. HAHA! I totally relate to this! I time myself and go as fast as possible. My end goal is vacuuming the carpet and polishing the table. Not because I like these tasks in and of themselves, but that means I am finished! Will have to try the 100 things...

    Kinda like tricking yourself when you need to leave to be on time for something...

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  7. I have to set my timer for 15min and force myself to focus on one task/room at a time. Otherwise I'm like a chicken w its head cut off running around doing nothing.

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    1. I'm exactly the same way! Too many tasks, not enough time! I'll try the timer-atleast you know there is an end (or alarm) in sight!

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  8. I work full time so I have decide from 6pm-7pm my daughter and I will clean. We can get the house picked up and the laundry done. I cook every other day.

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  9. I will try the 100 things. The commercials won't work for me. Once I sit down and start to relax it is difficult to be motivated to get up to do stuff especially things like cleaning.
    Right now we have a pick up after yourself as you go along and a chore system but of course things aren't perfect and we can use more. I have 7 children, a son in law moving in and grandbaby on the way, 5 dogs and a husband. Not to mention a niece frequently staying over and kids always wanting to have friends spend the night here. Our home is rarely ready for surprise visitors. Not to my standard anyways. I'm going to try 100 and 15 things. Thanks for the tip!

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  10. That sounds like a great trick, I will try it as soon as we're back from our August vacation (or maybe there, though I might have to lower the number... my neat-freak mom will surely be happy and surprised to see me clean).

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  11. Love the counting idea! When my kids were little, we also broke tasks down by color - put away/pick up/throw away only red things, then green, blue, etc.

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  12. I sometimes pick up the house by color too!

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  13. I want my house to be clean all the time, but I have realized that with four kids... it just doesn't happen all the time. I have my daily routine. What I do is get up every morning and start my coffee. It is breakfast time and while the kids are eating I start cleaning. I spend about an hour every morning cleaning. Then right before I go to bed I go through and do a quick walk through again to pick up anything that needs attention.

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  14. I always have a a "to do" list and every morning decide which things I will accomplish that day. It's an ever changing list so some things seem to never get tackled while others HAVE to get done by a specific date/time. I have arthritis in my knees and can only do so much before I just have to sit down for a few minutes but I always time myself for my rest time and get back to my chores until all my tasks for the day are done. If I feel up to doing more, that's great, but what a great feeling of accomplishment when I've completed all the "have to's" for the day.

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  15. I just remember that it is clean enough to be healthy but untidy enough to be happy. I have had 10 kids at home, and we are back to 9 at the moment with two grandkids and one home from uni. I find that getting up an hour before the children helps, at least I can get the washing machine loaded up, and we don't need to worry about loading the dishwasher..we've never had one!! :)

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  16. This is an absolutely FABULOUS idea! I soooo love it! I'm going to give this a shot and see if I can make it work for me too. Thanks so much for sharing! I also love the picture of your clean kitchen, it kinda puts me in the mood to go tackle mine :)

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  17. Ugh I hate cleaning because it is an endless task with an untidy other half and a two and a half year old (I'm not so tidy either lol) but I like the cleaning in commercials idea and using a timer

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  18. I play a game with myself that I call "Pick & Put". I grab an armful of things that don't belong and distribute them to where they go. The last room I end up in, I grab another bunch of things and put those away. So for instance, I'll grab the dirty laundry from the bedroom and bring it to the kitchen, where my washer is. Then I might grab the mail from the kitchen table and put it in the office. I'll find my husband's sneakers an coffe mug in the office which brings me to the kitchen where I grab the pile of clean clothes and take them along with the sneakers to the bedroom. I might set a timer and do this for 1/2 hour or so and I try to put on fun music and dance along...I consider it a workout:-)

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  19. I try to accomplish (or make progress) on at least one thing in my house each day that is not going to get undone by the next day. It takes away some of the futility that everyday chores can bring even if it is small like vacuuming the crumbs from under the sofa cushions or sweeping the porch.

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  20. What a fab idea!! I just read this post and immediately went and did a 100 thing pick up!! I got to #26 and my newborn woke up and needed a feed. So I fed him, put him back to bed, counted him as #27 and went and picked up #28!! :)

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  21. I don't, but I need to - and tomorrow is a day I set aside to do catch up, so I will give it a go! :)

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  22. Two-minute rule. If it takes you two minutes or less do it NOW. Then move on to whatever you wish.

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    1. I do this too but it is the 1 minute rule for me. If I see something that needs to be done & I can do it in less than a minute, I do it right then!

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    2. I love this rule. It is similar to my one-stop mail rule. I NEVER bring the mail in and sit it on a table to go through later. I immediately walk to the trash bin, and throw all junk mail away (90% of mail) as well as the envelopes & junk that come with the bills. Then I put what is left in my office system.

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  23. Lots of good ideas here. I hate that cleaning is never permanent. It just goes on and on and on and on. Even once you're done...it starts over again. I like the timer method, and the commercial method. Anything that works!

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  24. HA! Now I know that I am not the only one that counts things and/or looks for patterns. GREAT idea!! Thanks for sharing it~

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  25. Tried this today and it WORKS (for me and the kids!)!!!! My daughter (age four) didn't want to count she wanted to do the ABCs, so we ABC'd our way to a clean house while her brothers tried to outdo each other in the number of items picked up. My living room and dining room were clean in under five minutes!

    THANK YOU for sharing this fabulous idea!!!!

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  26. Our family has a few tricks that we use. When my kids were a little younger, they had to pick up the number of items that equaled their age ~ that helps the very young ones not feel overwhelmed and easier to count. Since they are a bit older now, we do a "two-minute tidy" in which they must move like the white-lightning to get as much accomplished as possible in that time frame (we use this when we hear a surprise visitor coming up the driveway!) Finally, especially on our weekly cleaning day, where toilet scrubbing and floor mopping/vacuuming are done, the goal is to be finished in time to watch our movie or do game night (no cable here)with a special dessert. We are a family of 4 homeschooled kiddos, a farm, 4H leader of 3 clubs, and a hubby that works permanently out of town.

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  27. yes - validation!

    I am a HUGE counter. 25's and 100's get the job(s) done here :-)

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  28. I'm using a site called "Chore Wars" and set it up as a competition with another household. It's an honor system, but the rules are loose enough that we can stay on equal footing.

    For example, there is a quest to "attend to the floor" which means that we have to vacuum, sweep, or mop one room to get points. Even if I go nuts and give all of the non-carpeted rooms a thorough sweeping, I'm only supposed to brag and not take more points than one room, but I can still claim the same amount of points next day if all I need to do is wipe down the middle of the rooms with a dry cloth.

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  29. I usually just invite someone over if I need my house to be cleaned. I'm a huge procrastinator so I need a solid deadline. I love the counting to 100 (or 25 or the child's age idea!) Thanks for the tips!

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  30. That is such a wonderful way to "trick yourself" into cleaning. I love it and I think I'll use it! I wish I'd thought of that when my children were younger. You're one smart cookie! But I think I may even introduce the concept to my 18-year-old daughter this evening. After all, this is a great tip for anyone who struggles with the "big job." Love it!

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  31. I love this idea. I will have to try it. I tend to clean in chunks of time, but this makes me procrastinate more because it always feels like such a big job. This sounds like a great way to make cleaning more managable.

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  32. what got me started was never leave the room emtpy handed yanno? There is always somethng that needs to be put away and if you do it gradually moving from room to room it doesn't take much time because I hate having to declutter before I can actually clean.

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  33. I use UFYH (http://unfuckyourhabitat.tumblr.com/) and do her challenges most of the time, I'm constantly amazed at what I can achieve in 20 minutes

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  34. When I have a book I absolutely love reading, I an very easily get caught up in it. So, I trick myself by saying, after this paragraph or page or chapter I'll do _______. So I might read a chapter, then put a load in, and wash dishes. The. I'll go on to the next chapter... So on and so forth. So at the end of the day, my dear hubby comes in to a clean house and fresh dinner, and I can rest assured that Mr. Darcy does, in fact, love Lizzie and that it will all work out in the end.

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    1. Your comment made me laugh out loud! :)

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  35. Ha great idea! I do something very similar, but mine is usually in time limits. Actually, my boyfriend will do it with me sometime; our guilty pleasure is playing Halo together (that's how we met years ago, haha), so we tell ourselves that after each game we will rush around and clean as much as we can in ten minutes. At the end of a lazy afternoon, that's a lot of cleaning that gets done!

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  36. that's a nice idea but i think i'd forget what number i were counting at! I'd be safer with 25. I have 2 cats a husband, a teen and a special needs little boy (he does the least damage to my home). my husband is the stay at home dad but he sucks at cleaning so I have to make sure it's done right!

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  37. When my girls were small, we sang our made up clean up song and made a game to see who could clean up the fastest! worked like a charm, and I barely had anything to do!! ;-)

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  38. This is awesome! I am going to try this right now!!

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  39. This was like reading advice from someone who knows me real well.I love games.I think this will work!I will thank you in person at allume :)

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  40. I like to "beat the clock" so I will play games like: can I get all these dishes put away before the coffee pot dings telling me to go sit down and have a cup of coffee?
    or
    can I vacuum all the bedrooms before the spin cycle? It seems silly, but it works.

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  41. That is brilliant, I will have to try it! I find that if I can get the house clean/tidy, it is not much work to keep it that way as long as I keep up with it NOW. My big problem is that I get lazy and it doesn't take too long to fall behind and then I can't catch back up again. Thanks for the idea and have a good week!
    -Sandy
    PS-- loving your Year of Less blog-- thank you!

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  42. I use the timer. I set it for 15 minutes and get busy. I can do anything for 15 minutes. Then I choose what I want to do (or sometimes have to do. I have 4 kids and a business.) I set the timer for 30 minutes to break, then 15 again to clean. By the end of a day, I've accomplished much more than I thought possible.

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  43. I used to tell my kids that there were two levels of cleaning. The first was just picking up. The second level was "company clean." They didn't mind doing the first level more often, because no toilet cleaning or mirrors were involved. If their rooms ever got really out of control, I set the timer and said anything left on the floor when the bell went off went into a "time out" bag. They didn't want their "stuff" on restriction.

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    1. Love this idea! Keeps the kids from stalling!

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  44. Sometimes I pretend that I am one of my super-tidy friends. I told them this one evening over a glass of wine and they all giggled. Seriously though. I have no idea where to start or what to do sometimes, so I just imagine I am one of my OCD friends and get started. I also ask them a lot of questions about how they clean and organize, and try to implement those ideas that work for me.

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  45. That is a great tip. I too thought 100 things would be a lot but your right once you count every little thing that is out of place (and there are way more than 100) it surprising how much you can get done in between chores.

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  46. I have a couple of tricks of the mind that I use. I like to listen to audio books on my ipod. But, I have rules for when I listen: my hour long drive to/from work and when I clean. So, if it's a really good book, I have an incentive to clean. My other trick is "exchange" cleaning. For example, if I need to take my laptop to my home office, I'll take it in there and exchange it for something that needs to go to another part of the house. When I take that item to it's proper location, I'll scan the room for things that belong somewhere else, so on and so on. And I'll usually pick up things along the way to my next destination, like a coffee cup left on the kitchen table that should be in the sink. I get into trouble though, if I have to take anything to my craft room. It's the bonus room upstairs. I tend to get distracted if I go up there. So if there's anything that needs to go up to the craft room, I'll just set it on the stairs until I have time to be distracted.

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  47. We do the "two-song pick-up" - switch on the CD or radio or ipod and clean like crazy for two songs. Helps if you pick longish ones, but it's short enough that the kids don't get bored or distracted too easily!

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  48. I do a bucket method! I have an unattractive box that sits in a corner by our stairs. Instead of spending time to put everything away i throw it all in the box. Every time i go upstairs i fill my hands with anything from the box and put it away then. I try to always have something in my hands if i go from one project/room to another.

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  49. I do a bucket method! I have an unattractive box that sits in a corner by our stairs. Instead of spending time to put everything away i throw it all in the box. Every time i go upstairs i fill my hands with anything from the box and put it away then. I try to always have something in my hands if i go from one project/room to another.

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  50. i have a check list. i have a few things that have to get done every day and between stuff thats not important i do one chore. when its done i check it off and its simple thigs like start and finish a load of laundry, load/unload the dishwasher, spot sweep or mop, pick up living room. by the end of my list im not crapped out on cleaning but its done. when everyone is home we pick chores off a bigger list and when everyone has dne the things they picked then we go out for ice cream.

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  51. This is brilliantly terrifying. I feel like my house is out of control- so I definitely need to try this.

    Love Letters 7.10~ The story of an earth minded family and their journey to a simpler life.
    http://loveletters710.com

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  52. I do one morning chore first thing in the morning before I get dressed. Sunday = Front & back entrances, Monday = Bathrooms, Tuesday = Kitchen, Wednesday = Laundry, Thursday = dusting, Friday = Floors, Saturday = Rest. This leaves me with a nearly spotless house with minimal work.

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  53. I have a VERY hectic life with a full time job, school, volunteer work and 2 kids who have multiple appointments. A husband too but sometimes he is the 3rd kid. Time management is mandatory in our house.
    I give my kids a time to clean. IE: Clean your room for 20 minutes and get as much done as possible. The time changes based on what I think they can handle that day and as they have grown. Sometimes I do the same thing to myself.
    I also try and get one thing done before work. Empty dishwasher, put in a load of laundry for hubby to put in the dryer before he goes to work.
    I loved everyone's comments and will try implementing those as well.

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  54. Nothing gets me in the mood to clean more than an episode of Hoarders or How Clean is Your House with Aggie and Kim.

    Also, I'm an inn junkie and my fondest daydream is that I'm an innkeeper in a huge old house full of antiques and quilts and cool stuff. So I pretend that I'm cleaning my inn. Wow, that sounds really mental when it's written out. But it works for me.

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  55. I really really like this idea. Also you could adjust the number down to start with. Then if it doesn't take so long, then you could move it up after a while. So like, moving a dish to the sink, then rinsing and putting it in the dishwasher, would be three!

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  56. I make a playlist of 5 to 20 songs (depending on how much I have to do) And see how much I can get done before the playlist ends. Also, playing upbeat, fast paced songs help me move quicker :P I like the timer method as well. If i'm baking or cooking and something goes into the oven, I try and clean up my mess and do the dishes I dirtied before whatever it is i'm making is done Love your blog by the way :)

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  57. I seriously need to do SOMETHING I am hopelessly unorganized. I can't organize anything. Even matching socks doing laundry is a challenge:( I am going to try this to see if it works. I am going to start smaller though, like try 25, because even though you say 100 isn't a lot, and I agree, if I get bored or discouraged before 100 I will give up on the entire game. I also have ADHD, which is a factor, But I want to learn to manage it. Part of my problem is my kids just have SO MUCH STUFF. It's EVERYWHERE.

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  58. I love your all the cleaning tutorials from cleaning carpet to cleaning home every article is very informative and it makes my cleaning task more enjoyable because before cleaning i know how the whole cleaning process is done....Thanks For Sharing This Awesome Blog.

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