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Articles from: March 2011

Ten Minute Family Clean-ups

family guide to cleaning!I don’t know about you, but in our house we have the best of intentions when it comes to picking up and cleaning.  I’ve never been able to pinpoint the exact time, but somewhere along the way, our good intentions get sidetracked, which quickly spirals to laziness, blame and complete and utter lack of motivation.

We live in a bi-level home that doesn’t have much storage.  To be exact, we have roughly one square inch of storage, give or take.  That said, our kids’ rooms can quickly get overrun and all encompassing, making them seem like daunting tasks to tackle.

In a midst of genius and desperation, I came up with a stroke of genius – the 10 minute family clean-up.  Let me say that when I announced this concept I was sure it would immediately crash and burn.  Much to my surprise and joy, the kids were excited and even motivated!  The only way this works is because all four of us were doing our 10 minute clean-up at the exact same time.  No one can say “boo” if we’re all working together at the same time.  We make it enjoyable by playing upbeat music – sometimes we take requests prior to the start of the 10 minutes.

Now I know 10 minutes is not much time.  But, when four people are all working at the same time, 40 minutes worth of work is accomplished each night in 10 minute increments giving us 70 minutes each week per person.  In that short amount of time, we get close to 5 hours worth of cleaning done between the four of us.  What does that equate to?  One weekend worth of cleaning by your average mom.  Since we are accomplishing this task in 10 minutes each day, we are able to fully enjoy the weekend instead of spending it dusting, cleaning and arguing about chores.

Admittedly, some times we go over our time.  This is strictly by choice.  When the timer goes off, we are done.  And yes, to make it fair we use a timer.  Since we have started our 10 minute clean-ups we have noticed an increase in family time, more relaxed weekends and a tidier home.  What’s not to love, right?

If this works for you, please let me know!  Did you have any tweaks to make it a success for your family.  Please share your experiences!  I always love to hear what works for you and your family!


The Pierced Ears Journey….

When my daughter Chloe turned 6 I took her out on her birthday to get her ears pierced.  Now let me back up here and say this was something we had discussed for well over a year.  I didn’t want her to get her ears pierced because I suggested the idea.  She is a very head strong, little spitfire of a sassy gal, so I wanted it to be her decision completely.  I was honest, “Yes, it will hurt, honey.  But, it won’t hurt for long.”  I know from experience she has a high threshold for pain.  When she gets a shot, even as a baby, she’d wince, maybe cry a bit, then that was it.  Unlike my son, who will scream bloody murder and have to be held down with force.  So, we started on our ride to the mall to Claire’s.  I kept asking her periodically if she still wanted to get her ears pierced, she kept saying, “Yes!  I want my ears pierced, Mom!”  I told her repeatedly that if she changed her mind, she could.  This was her decision.

So she bravely climbed into the seat at Claire’s, the girls stood beside her each with their gun aimed and ready.  In case you are confused by that statement, let me explain.  Unlike in the days when I got my ears pierced, they do them both at the same time so as to get it over with quicker for kids.  I must say, it’s really smart and went well.  And yes, it did sting!  She cried, and after a couple moments, she twisted her earrings as instructed and we were able to peruse the multitude of earrings.  We saw everything from fortune cookies, to Hello Kitty.  We discussed all the pretty earrings she would be wearing in just a couple of months’ time.

Her ears only hurt for about 10 minutes, max.  Per the instructions, we disinfected her ears every morning and night.  And then, I will admit, we got a bit lazy with the disinfecting.  It’s not like we stopped completely, but we just forgot on occasion.  So, of course, her ear got infected, and with gusto!  Her poor little ear was red, swollen and painful to the touch.

After much convincing on my part, I got the earring out and then proceded to squeeze her ear to extract the puss.  Let me tell you, this was a horrible experience.  One that will ensure I follow directions to a T to avoid this sort of situation in the future.   Thank goodness it was winter so all the doors and windows were shut, or I am sure the authorities would have been called in due to poor Chloe’s high pitched level of screaming and crying!  The worst part was getting the new earring into her ears.  When I took the piercing earring out because of the infection, I just replaced it with a new earring.  She already had the others in the recommended time.  This was another hour’s worth of screams and sobbing to add to the previous hours’ headache.

Once we got that behind us, her ear was healed within 1 and a half days.  Much better, moving on, right?  Not so fast there.  Take it back a step.  My daughter would still twist the earrings to prove her ears were healthy and not infected, but she refused with zeal and determination she was absolutely NOT changing those earrings.

That was OK, she was not ready.  I wasn’t going to push her on this.  But, I didn’t want her to never change them.  I also definitely did not want to risk them getting infected again.  So, after a month of this, I mentioned the risk of infection.  She showed me how her earrings twisted, so therefore, they were healthy and they didn’t hurt.  I let it rest.  Another week goes by.  I show her how I change my earrings every day to match my outfit or my mood.  “Cool, Mom.  I am not going to change my earrings,” she says as she turns foot and leaves my bedroom.

Another week goes by and the whole family goes to the mall to get an Apple TV.  (Coolest thing ever and I will post more on that on another day!)  I take Chloe to Claire’s and show her all the amazing earring selection.  She immediately sees through my veiled attempt at bribery and storms out of the store.  Did I mention she was born a head strong, opinionated, beautiful girl full of sass and spitfire?

I was a bit at my wit’s end here.  I really didn’t want her to hate that she had gotten her ears pierced, but it was quickly barreling down that road.  I asked her what she was scared of and she said she didn’t like the idea of the earring going through her ear.  It completely creeped her out.  So much that she didn’t care if I took her earrings out and let the holes close shut completely!  So, after convincing her to think about it, I let it rest once again.

After about 2 weeks,  I asked her one morning if she could help me put my earring into my ear.  “Why?” she asked.  “I am just having a hard time getting it in and you can see it better than I can.”  I was sure she would call me out on my completely obvious attempt, but instead she was excited to help me!  So, this became our morning ritual for about 2 weeks.  Then, one morning, we were out to pick up some things, and we happened to go past the jewelry department.  My son, Zach who had been trying to get Chloe to change her earrings for at least a month, tried yet again.

“Chloe, I’ll buy you some earrings.”  For the first time in almost two months, she was intrigued by the concept.  Not wanting to lose that momentum, we scoured the earrings.  Lo and behold, Chloe found some she liked!  There were flowers, silver balls, and white, pink and purple sparkly earrings all on one card.  Before we headed to the check out, I told Chloe she had to promise that we would change her earrings when we went home, that same day, right after we put away the groceries.  This sent up her defenses and I was sure she would change her mind and put them back.  But, much to my surprise, she pinky promised, under some duress I will admit.  I also think the cashier thought I was a monster, but I knew what I was doing.  Chloe, like most children, was notorious for promising one thing and doing another.  I only did this to ensure these earrings would make it into my daughter’s ears and not be something pretty to look at from a drawer.

So, the big moment was here!  I could feel it!  The anticipation was eminent.  I got the first earring out.  Chloe got a big grin on her face and started laughing.  “That didn’t hurt at all, Mom!  If I would have known that, I would have changed them a long time ago!”

It only took patience, planning, bribery and a bit of luck!  To quote Hannibal from the A-Team, “I love it when a plan comes together!”