A while back I did a post about a musical clean up game I was playing with the kids to get them to help me clean. It works, it really does, but since then we’ve modified it and made it even better.

First of all, we found that most of the children’s songs on the music channel on the tv were too short to get an adequate amount of cleaning done. We’d end up staying for another song (or two) and that kind of defeated the purpose of switching rooms with songs and also made it easier to lose momentum.

Also, the girls really liked it for a while, but got to the point where it was still cleaning and could really care less about the music so they stopped working fast enough to get the room picked up during a song or two.

We needed a boost in our cleaning routine. That boost? A list, an estimated time, and a stopwatch. That’s right.

After watching an episode of Cyberchase about estimating, I got the idea to teach Princess and Drama Queen a real life estimation lesson. I tossed some movies on the floor and asked how long they thought it would take to pick them up. After they guessed I time Princess picking up one movie and putting it on the shelf – 3 seconds. We then estimated the time for all six movies and then she tried it to test it out. She was amazed that our estimate was right. Then I had them pick up six movies together to show how much faster they could get it done together. They were giggly when the time was more than cut in half. And to be honest, they were quite fascinated with the stop watch.

And so there you have it, ever since we’ve added the stop watch to our routine. We still put on music. Then we make a list of all the rooms, we look at what needs to be picked up and estimate how long it will take for us to clean it, add the times to get an estimated total time, and then we have at it. We keep an eye on the stop watch to see how long we’ve been in the room, we might leave before the estimated time if we’re finished, we might stay a bit longer if we need to. When we we’re all done, we see how long it took us and how close it was to our estimate. Believe it or not, it works. And since we do it everyday, most rooms aren’t that bad and we spend an average of 30-45 minutes and that’s only because we’re spending more time in the kids rooms trying to get them to the point where they’re “not so bad” either.

But a cleaner house isn’t the only benefit. More than the house getting cleaner, more than Princess working on her math skills, we’re also working together. And I like that. There are other things that I do alone, there are tasks I give them to do by themselves. But the first clean-up of the day that gets us on our way to a good day (because honestly our day goes better when we do this first and just doesn’t when we don’t) is done together. We’ve been doing our morning musical cleaning for several months now, and we’ve been doing the estimating for at least a month, and well, it works for us. It really does.

  • WFMW is hosted by Shannon at Rocks In My Dryer.


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Hey, y’all! I’m Amber and I wear many hats. I drink a ton of coffee and I’m constantly sweeping crumbs off the floor. After 18 years of homeschooling, I’m getting close to graduating my third child and now we are starting over at preschool with our fourth, Lil Miss Mouse. She keeps us young and she’s the main reason for my excessive coffee consumption. Drink up!