My home can get pretty cluttered, very fast. With so many people running around doing their own projects (and many not cleaning up after themselves) it can get out of hand quickly. But, I’ve found a solution that helps declutter the home in the short term, and fast!
It’s called The Line Up. It’s pretty simple, really. When I feel overwhelmed because everywhere I look there’s something that needs to be put away or cleaned up, I stop what I’m doing and just yell “Line Up!”.
Literally, everyone stops and lines up according to age. It can be quite the sight and pretty fun for the little ones as it helps them feel like big kids.
Then, the fun begins.
I start yelling various jobs that I want done, starting from oldest to youngest usually. The jobs can range from vacuuming to wiping off the table to picking up the broken crayon on the floor. As soon as they are finished with the job I give them they are then instructed to immediately line back up for another job. I just stand in the same spot the whole time and basically manage the jobs.
Having me stay and conduct the Line Up is important because if I help with the job’s then the children tend to get distracted and not line back up. Of course, they will occasionally get distracted anyways, but that’s the reason why it’s important for mom to stay put and manage the line up, to discourage this from happening.
Examples of jobs I’d give the older kids (approx. 8 on up) during a line up
- Swish and Swipe (see www.flylady.net for more info on that term)
- Vacuum the family room and my bedroom (the remaining carpet in the home)
- Wipe off the counters with cleaners
- Make my bed (yes, I will sometimes even ask them to do that depending on what kind of a morning we are having)
- Take out the laundry room garbage (including putting in a fresh bag)
- Take out the kitchen garbage (including putting in a fresh bag)
- Feed a particular animal
- Take out the laundry and sort it
- Do a laundry load transfer
- Fold some laundry
- Change the baby’s diaper
Examples of jobs I’d give the younger kids (approx. 7 on down) during a line up
- Pick up the spilled crayons and put them away
- Make their beds
- Brush their hair
- Take out the bathroom garbage (including putting in a fresh bag)
- Fold rags/towels and put them away
- Fill the kitchen drawer with rags and towels
- Fold ten pieces of laundry and put them away
- Sweep off the front/back porch
- Put the shoes left out onto the shelf in the garage
These are all examples of jobs. Also, there are lots of crossover. Sometimes I’ll have my seven year old make my bed (imperfectly, I know) or the 16 year old fill the kitchen rag drawer. As long as everything gets cleaned up and decluttered I really don’t care who does it!
Teaches Delegation and Obedience
This way of delegating jobs also teaches children how to obey orders given by someone in charge of them. Instant obedience is important, especially when there is an emergency. It may not sound like much but you’d be surprised how little practices like this can help a child learn the importance of obedience.
Eventually, you will find your older teens adopting this method of cleaning up the home when they are babysitting. When Ed and I are on a date and the kids are expecting us home soon they usually do a Line Up to spruce the place up for us. This is thoughtful for them to do this for us and it makes their babysitting job easier on them.
Cleaning up your home like this is a fast way of decluttering your home and your mind. Not only will it mentally help you have a better day but it teaches your children that they are contributing members of the family. It teaches them that there will be fewer messes to clean up if they cleaned up after themselves AND that it’s okay to help someone else clean up their mess (like the crayons the 3-year-old left out).
Not only that but it teaches that many hands make light work!! 🙂
I only have one child, but I can totally see how this would work for a big family. I have friends that have 6-7 children and they delegate house jobs to the children all the time. I plan on having my son help with clean up and such as he gets older. Right now he’s 2 and some days it’s a chore just to get him to pick up his toys, but I know that as he gets older and we stay consistent with it, it will get better. I love that my friend’s children can basically run their house, there have been a few times it’s been necessary for the older kids to step up and do just that. And the younger ones have learned to listen to the older ones the same as they’d listen to their parents in these situations.
If you start training him now he’ll be so much more self-sufficient as he grows up! My kids can run my house if I ever need them to, and it has become a true blessing. Good luck to you! 🙂
Natasha Botkin says
I remember when my kids were little we did a fifteen min set on the timer clean up. Both had their own basket and voila. Clean and tidy.
Great idea Natasha!
I don’t have kids yet but this seems effective, and what an adorable photo of the line up
Thanks Claudi! I was missing a few of the kids but we still got the job done! 🙂
What a great idea to get everyone to pitch in – it’s like Mary Poppins, making a game out of tidying up. Cute photo too – guess the one in orange doesnt like his pic being taken!
Thanks! Actually, the one in orange is my ham!! I can never seem to get a picture of him not horsing around in some fashion. Haha!
This is SUCH a good idea. I don’t currently have any children, but once I do and they’re of the age when they can help tidy up, I’m definitely going to employ this technique. It sounds like it makes cleaning up a fun activity for all of the kids. Thanks for sharing!
I think it was fun in the beginning but now they just do it. The little ones still enjoy it but the older ones just know that the house is cluttered and for mom’s sanity it needs to be fixed now!! 🙂
What a fantastic idea! I love that they do it for you too if you have been out.
It really helps with the peace of the home when you walk into your home and there isn’t clutter to greet you. I’m grateful to them for doing this for me!
Taylor Greenwald says
I have 5 kids, not all are mine biologically, but when we have all of the kids at home…it is tough to keep up with the mess.
Usually I just pick up after all of my family because I have not found an effective way to get them up to help me.
I love your idea because even the small ones pitch in. I am, very thankfully, stealing your method. ❤️ Thank you for sharing! Big families are tough sometimes.
I’m glad I could help! 🙂 🙂 🙂
Helen Vella says
Teaching kids to be self sufficient is always a great idea. Thanks and gratitude when they have done the chores etc makes them feel wanted and loved. Great post.
Thank you Helen! I agree. Children want to be appreciated as much as adults do. 🙂
We have a 5 y/o and 1 y/o, and both are getting their fair share of household chores. Of course, the 5 y/o does more but the little one is still learning. It’s never too young to help clean, especially when they’re the ones making the majority of the mess!
Haha! Exactly! I figure that if they are big enough to dump out the toys, then they are big enough to put them back. 🙂
This is such a great idea.. almost makes me want to have lots of children haha. I only have one little one at the moment but she loves to try and help clean things when I start. I love the idea of delegating chores to her!
Now is the time to start! My 18 month old lines up. Granted, she doesn’t do much. She usually just follows one of her siblings around and helps them put a toy away, etc. But if you start them young than they won’t protest so much when they are older! 🙂
I absolutely love this! You should totally video this so we can see it in action too!
Hah! I never thought of that! Maybe I will. 🙂
blair villanueva says
Hahaha your ways are truly effective, and that’s great. Kids will learn to be responsible on their assigned job and maybe excel with it. They know how to play and mess, theyshould know how to clean up!