Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Whatever Wednesday: The Day My Husband Begged Me to NOT Clean the House

A few weeks ago, right after having a lot of family over for a long visit, as he was leaving for work, my husband, Nate, begged me to NOT clean the house. As I guffawed at this remark and kind of looked at the messes in each room and the large piles of laundry, he came back to me and said: "Really, please don't clean the house today. I want to use the messy house as an object lesson for our family night tonight."

Ever the teacher, Nate is always looking for ways to teach our children how to be better (though in the case of our house, we all could use help in keeping it tidy!).

So, instead I baked and made up some mixes for future baking and worked on furniture (which is waaaay more fun than cleaning!!).

Just about every Monday evening, our family gets together to have a lesson.  Sometimes it's spiritual in nature, sometimes it's learning how to treat friends, other times it is just getting together to play a game or go on an outing.  Usually we start out with a prayer, sometimes a scripture, we usually sing a song (because we all enjoy singing) and almost always play a game or watch a short video (this particular Monday it was music videos by "OkGo").  You get the idea.

 Instruction on how to lead music.

We started out talking temples.  He asked the kids what they think of when they think of temples.  We got great answers like: eternal families, peaceful, etc.  And some crazy ones, which of course at the moment I can't remember.

Then Nate and I talked about how temples are peaceful partially because they are clean and neat and everything has a place.
We took a tour of our own home, quietly, no-one was to speak as we went to each and every room.  Then we ended back in the living room again. 
Nate asked the kids how did our house look?  Dirty, messy, cluttered.  Was it peaceful?  Hmmm, not really.

So, we made a goal to, together, clean it for five minutes each night.  For the first many days, we took about five minutes in each room.   This is separate from their regular, daily cleaning jobs. 
But as we kept things up, it turned into 15 minutes total and then about an average of 8 minutes total. And we can usually do it in the time of two songs from an MP3 player but our phrase to clean is: "Let's do our five minutes."  Or sometimes: "We forgot to do our five minutes!"   
If we kept it clean for a week, the kids were taken out for supper at a place of their choice. 
Keeping the house clean for a week = supper at a place of their choice.  This was their choice, The Dawg House Grill.
If we kept it clean for a month, then we'd have dinner and movie.  If we keep it up (the daily evening cleaning) for a year, the kids get a cash reward.  

We started this challenge on March 30th.  And we did so great!  ...for two and a half weeks.   But currently we are in the process of moving and the packing and sorting has taken it's toll.

So, when we missed a night last Friday (my dad was also visiting from out of state that night), the agreement was that we had to start over.  So, here we are on day five of the start over.

 We are determined to make this a habit!

Some things we've learned:
  1. The kids sometimes groan when it's time to clean, but most of the time they are the ones to remind us.  Positive reinforcement works wonders people! aka: rewards
  2. Let the kids help decide when to tidy.  One of my kids, the morning bird, wants to do her "five minutes" right after school so she can go to bed (and not be grouchy).
  3. Also include the kids in determining what their positive reinforcement will be.  
  4. Work with the children so they can see that it truly is a family goal.  We've found that working together as a family can be fun (especially when you listen to music and make it game-like).
  5.  It's very hard to reach goals, but it's so very rewarding when you're able to complete one!  Taking the kids to The Dawg House Grill was such a small thing yet they loved every minute of it: being with mom and dad, having delicious food, trying out a new place, and who wouldn't love the picture of the gigantic purple and yellow bedecked bulldog?!  

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