Last week I wrote about ways for WAHMs (or ANYBODY) to stay on top of their housework amidst family and professional obligations.
One of my suggestions was to set a timer, giving yourself a specific amount of time in which to complete your household tasks. The goals are to a) force yourself to work faster and smarter; and b) avoid the "dread" factor by ensuring yourself that you're only going to have to work on those tasks you dislike for a short period of time.
Well, it occurred to me this weekend that perhaps the timer could have other uses...
Like (I assume) any mom of a preschooler, I struggle with keeping my little one focused, particularly on things she doesn't want to do - like cleaning her room, picking up her clothes or tidying up the playroom.
We recently implemented an allowance - tied to a set of simple weekly chores - which has helped, but still the announcement that it's clean-up time generally sends Little Miss over the edge. Because it seems like more drama than it's worth, I'm guilty of letting her procrastinate endlessly or do only a moderately acceptable job.
As of yesterday morning, her room was barely navigable, so I announced that it was, indeed, time to take it on. Before she had time to protest, I grabbed a timer and told her she'd have 20 minutes to finish her room. Since I also had chores to do, I told her I had to get the upstairs bathrooms cleaned in the same amount of time (thus eliminating the potential for "Will you help meeeeeeeeeee, Mommyyyyyyy?"). Naturally Ms. Thing wanted to know what would happen if we didn't finish on time. Since I hadn't thought that one through, I went with iPhone privileges. If I wasn't done, I didn't get to play iPhone scrabble, and if she wasn't done, she didn't get to play iPhone UNO.
Again, before the whining could commence, I started the timer and began RUNNING toward the upstairs bathrooms yelling, "Hurry! Hurry! We can do this!"
Much to my surprise, she followed me up the stairs and into her room, shouting, "Mom! Hurry! Don't forget to let me know how much time is left!"
I made a big show of "hurrying," running between bathrooms and panting as though I was exhausted. I'd shout, "Ten minutes left! We can do it!" and she'd reply, "Don't worry, Mom - I'm almost done!"
Whaddayaknow?? She finished her room BEFORE I'd finished the bathrooms and spent the rest of the time cheering for me. I pretended to cut it close, hanging up the final towel just as the alarm went off. There were high fives and "the cheer of greatness" (her invention) all around and, more importantly, NO DRAMA.
I tried it again later when we both needed to take showers and get ready. Again, she was finished first and thought all of my "rushing" was absolutely hilarious.
Now, I'm sure this little game will eventually lose its luster and I'll have to implement some kind of real consequences. But my thought is that, as long as I participate and keep the enthusiasm up, I can get at least get her once-a-week chores completed without unnecessary unpleasantness or procrastinating. For now, anyway.
Score one for Mom!