Reprogramming Teens with Popsicle Sticks

Dear FlyLady,

You are WONDERFUL! After years of living in CHAOS and weekend crisis cleaning, I found your system in a fit of desperation to get it all under control.  THANK YOU!

My home isn’t “there” yet, but it’s on it’s way.  Most days, I flap through the house talking to myself about shiny sinks, one load a day, and swishing and swiping.  My kids think I’m nuts! Because of our CHAOS they have been raised to believe that cleaning house is hard work!  Now that Summer has begun and they are at home more, it’s been difficult to get them on board with FlyLady.  I was forced to invent a way to reprogram their stinking thinking.  Because of our CHAOS they have been raised to believe that cleaning house is hard work!

I came up with a game to remedy the situation.  (Of course, they think it’s just Mom acting silly so they humor me because they love me.) I write small jobs on Popsicle sticks and put them into a cup by the kitchen sink.  As a rule, most of the jobs can’t take more than 5-10 minutes.  So I’ve had to break some of them down into smaller ones.  For example, cleaning the microwave becomes 3 jobs: cleaning the glass plate inside, wiping out the inside, and wiping down the outside.  In addition, I try to make the jobs fun!  Taking out the trash has become the “Trash Dash” and mopping the floor has become the “5 Minute Sock Mop”.  I also put some things in the cup that the kids enjoy doing like “Take a Shower” and “Pray & Reflect” or “Play with the Dogs”.

At the top of every hour, I ask the kids to pick a job from the cup.  They get to look at them and choose which job to do. And, if the job isn’t room specific – like vacuuming – they can pick which room to work in.  Some jobs, like sweeping and mopping, get more than one stick so there are more chances to get it done. When the job is finished, the stick goes into another cup for finished jobs. At the end of the day, I put the sicks back into one cup – I shine my sink. There are always sticks that don’t get used, but that’s ok, since tomorrow is a new day!

We have only been at it for a week, and I had to remove the laundry and dishes sticks from the cups.  Between my routines and Fly Missions, and the kids playing the game, we are all caught up!  Now I am able to handle those by myself without their help!

I am still waiting to see that AH-HA moment when they realize that the small, painless jobs they are doing are making our home a better place.  But I don’t think it will take very long.  As we establish our routines, and take small steps, we are finding our way out of CHAOS.

Flybaby C in Texas

FlyLady here: If you make it fun it will get done. This is why we developed our tools. Check them out! I am so proud of you for trying new ways to get your teenagers excited about helping around the house.

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