..... I got this idea off the Enjoying the Small Things blog, bookmarked on the right over there. Kelle does a shakedown to make it look like she's been productive right before DH comes home on the days she's been productively playing with her little ones. I've modified the idea a bit and it has worked so well for us that I thought I'd share. Each evening after dinner around here, my house resembles a primordial cave full of savages. I was tired of it taking me another half hour of straightening up after the kids were finally down before I got to sit down and relax with the dearest. Since I head to bed early right now due to the inconsistent waking times of our youngest, that was leaving me with precious little time for the most important relationship in the house.
Soooo, each night after dinner we have a shakedown. I put 15 minutes on the timer. Baby goes into the swing, happy or not, and everyone who can walk gets busy. My main focus is the kitchen while Daddy and the older 2 go from room-to-room putting things to rights. We have 3 rules for the shakedown:
1. No stuffing or cramming - everything goes back where it belongs.
2. Each room has to be put to rights, this means mama has to get a move on putting dinner away.
3. A room is not clean unless Mama has declared it so before the timer dings.
Having to race against the timer puts everyone in high gear and the motivation is completed with the promise of 3 M&M's if the work is done before the timer buzzes. It's super cute to hear the kids encouraging each other to work hard to get the job done right. This system has brought out the best in our kids, which was our goal - teaching them to work well together. And ain't nothing wrong with a little reward for a job well done.
This works so well that now all I have to do is yell "Shake-down" and everyone gets busy. Ethan will run into a room and overturn something if that room is clean just so he can pick something up. Emory comes running into the kitchen every 30 seconds to make sure there is still time left on the timer. We haven't had to use this during the day (only at the end of the day), but I totally reserve the right to use it twice in one day if things get really out of hand around here.
So far, we've beaten the buzzer each time. Our home is small enough that it can totally be picked up by 4 people in 15 minutes if everyone is diligent. I imagine there are homes out there that would need a bit more time to get picked up. Whatever works for you. I just think it shouldn't always be mama doing the picking up, and there is no reason why cleaning can't be made fun for the kiddos.