7 House Cleaning Games For Lazy Parents


When you are a Must Have Parent (the kind who holds down the fort alone because your partner is in the middle of the Pacific Ocean or, say, Kabul), you are doing the work of two parents. So you gotta have tricks.

Columnist Rebekah Sanderlin swears by three things (find out Rebekah’s go-to tricks here.)

I swear by a picked-up house. I don’t mean a clean house. Clean is the house my mother lives in.

I mean picked up. Picked-up countertops. Stuff picked-up off the stairs. Floors picked-up enough so you can see the pattern on the carpet.

When my house starts looking like the nest of a somewhat exotic, fairly colorful, terribly dirty bird, I know I’m going off the rails. And soon.

But I really, really, really hate picking-up. I’m tired. No one ever wants to help lazy little me. So I picked-up these tricking house cleaning games from other Must Have Parents. Try one and see how well it works for you: 7 House Cleaning Games For Fun and Profit

1.Lava floor.

No Must Have Parent should be the only one cleaning. The trouble is that kids don’t actually see a mess. They have no idea what you mean by “clean this up.”

So we play a game I like to call “Lava Floor.” You tell the kids to imagine that a volcano is going to erupt and the floor is going to be covered in lava. They have to pick up everything on the floor (and nowhere else) as fast as possible.

This works because 1) the floor is the biggest surface in any room. If it is picked up everything seems a little better. And, 2) lava. Nothing is more exciting than lava.

2. Twenty-five pick-up.

One of my girlfriends played this game in which she would pick up 25 things before she went to bed (because she was 25 years old). Every year, she added one thing so that by the time she was 35, she was picking up 35 things a night. If everyone in the family does this, you’ve got a four-year-old picking up four things. A 12-year-old picking up 12 things. And two 38-year-olds picking up 76 things between them. That’s a picked-up house.

3. The car is the new house.

Have a kid who doesn’t wanna clean house? Sic them on the car instead. Just send them out with a basket to clear out all the stuff that has accumulated in the car. Helpful!

4. Blaze through hotspots.

Housekeeping expert The Fly Lady says that most people have one place in their house where clutter tends to pile up. She calls this a “hotspot.” In our house, this is the shelf in the laundry room where everything that is headed to the car or the basement accumulates until it is falling down the steps.

This hotspot can often be cleared in the same amount of time it takes a kid to do the car. Just taking the time to clear this space so that I can see to the backdoor is better than Prozac for me.

5. Time for timer.

When you set kids to work, they often come up with trickier tricks than you have ever dreamed of. When tasked with cleaning the kitchen, my daughter started setting a timer for ten minutes.

I told her there was no way. Cleaning up a dinner that includes 4 pans, 5 place settings and the breakfast dishes clogging up the dishwasher takes way more than ten minutes.

Turns out it is amazing how fast you move when you are racing a clock ... and your boyfriend is coming over in 10 minutes.

6. One Way Ticket To Distraction City.

One of my Must Have girlfriends never talks on the phone without doing some housework. You often hear dishes clattering or Legos being swept back into the bucket.

My son and like listening to podcasts while we clean. Unlike TV, it requires just enough of your attention to take away the boredom of cleaning without bringing the work to a stop. I like Freakonomics and Snap Judgment. He likes Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me. For younger kids try Storynory. Or Sid the Science Kid.

7. Zambonifest!

Just like the giant truck that smoothes the ice between skating sessions, you and your partner can move through your house at the end of the night pushing the reset button. Start at the backdoor and pick up as you clear each room, locking doors and turning off lights. This yields children who scurry to their rooms, quiet conversation between adults and an unbelievably peaceful sleep. Who doesn't want that?

What are your tricks to get help with housework? We want to know...

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