The Thirty-Minute Clean

by Ruth O'Neil


In spite of all the electronic gadgets that have been invented to make our lives easier, we seem busier now than ever. My household is no exception. We're extremely busy and I run out of time every day. We homeschool our three children and I work as a freelance writer, make quilts for a couple of gift shops, baby-sit five days a week and have a job outside of the house for a few hours in the evening. My husband works on the side on top of his regular fifty-hour workweek. Then there are all the activities at church for each one of us, especially our teenagers who still need rides everywhere they go.

With a schedule like this, things are left undone. The one thing that seems to really get neglected is the housework. I had tried everything.

My husband and I did not want to give allowance to the kids for picking up after themselves. We thought it should just be one of their responsibilities of living in a household with other people. The kids each had specific chores that needed to be done on a daily or weekly basis, but by the time the schoolwork and all the running around town was done, I often had to leave for work with their chores still unfinished. My husband offered to help, but he didn't know what jobs they had and the kids would certainly not offer to tell him! I tried making lists and putting them on the fridge, so that everyone knew what everyone else had to do. That did not work, either, because no one paid any attention. I also learned that after working ten to twelve hours a day, my husband just didn't feel like worrying about their chores. I can't say that I blamed him. There were many days I wanted to be free from the argument of doing daily chores.

That is when I came up with a new idea that would get everything done before my husband came home and before I left for work. I have finally come up with a way to get around this never ending battle. We mess the house up together as a family, so we will clean it up together as a family. The kids and I spend thirty minutes every day doing nothing but cleaning. We usually turn on the radio or I let one of the kids play one of their CDs as loud as they want.

When it comes to who does what, some days I make a list for each one of the kids and they can cross off jobs as they are completed. Other days, I just bark out orders as I see things that need to be done. There are other days when we each just pick a room and get busy. In thirty minutes, we can get pretty much all the cleaning done or at least enough to make our house look presentable. The floors may not all be mopped or all the laundry completely done, but the basic picking up is done and my husband does not get upset about the mess as soon as he walks in the door.

This method works for us, but there are other ways of using thirty minutes wisely. Everyone can have specific chores, everyone can do a certain number of chores, or chores can be written on pieces of paper and picked out of a fishbowl.

I have also found that when everyone cleans something different everyday, this gives the kids a variety of jobs so that they won't get sick of doing one thing and it also gives them experience dong many different household chores. They also don't come to me whining, "Why doesn't she have to do that?" And, they will be prepared when they have a home of their own. I won't be shocked at the dirtiness when I enter their homes when they become adults because they will have learned how to clean.

Whichever way you want to work it, a lot of cleaning can be done in thirty minutes. This teaches our kids (boys and girls) how to do housework properly and also causes them to work together. Doing a thirty-minute clean also puts my house in order quickly.

Your house will be relatively clean if this process is put into practice on a regular basis. It leaves you available to do more fun activities with your children and not be bogged down by cleaning or having it hanging over your head. You've done it and you've done it all together.

Take the Next Step:

  • 30 minutes? You can do that! So start today. Get the kids together, crank the tunes, and for the next 30 minutes, do nothing but clean. Whether you make a list of needed cleaning jobs or simply pick a room to clean, you'll be left with a cleaner house and more time for the fun things that you enjoy.
  • Discuss "Home and Family" with other Dollar Stretchers in The Dollar Stretcher Community.

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