Beat the Clock to Clean

You may have heard of doing this method to help your kids with the housekeeping—and it definitely works!—but it can also help you get cleaning done without feeling overwhelmed.

For kids, this is about racing the clock, as evidenced by Plain Vanilla Mom's experience; for adults, it’s about focus. Try it out and see if it works for you:

Set a timer. The timer should be age-appropriate, so if you’re working with a small child, 10 to 15 minutes is great. For older children, try 20 to 30, and for yourself, try 30 to 45.

Clean hard and fast. While the timer is running, clean as much as you can as quickly as you can. Don’t leave jobs unfinished, though! Go in with the plan to clean as thoroughly as possible, even if that means you don’t finish an entire room or an entire task in the time limit.

For kids, turn this into a race—“Beat the Clock.” How much can they get done in 15 minutes? Can they get more done the next time they try? You might even find that your kids start asking to clean to see if they can beat their time!

Take a break. This is the key to the timer method: reward yourself. Resist the temptation to finish anything that was left incomplete and set the timer again for a break. 10 minutes if you’re doing 10-20 minute cleans, 15 to 20 if you’re doing 30-45.

During this time, do something you really enjoy doing. Watch a TV show, listen to music, play a game, read a book. It’s about rewarding yourself for the work you’re putting in and taking a break so you can work hard again.

Repeat! You can do this as many times as you want, alternating hard work with taking a break. The amazing part of this is that you will see that you can accomplish a lot in just a little amount of time when you’re completely focused, knowing you will have a break soon enough!

Kids see it as a game, and that’s a great way to encourage your kids to clean! For adults, it’s about avoiding the feeling of being overwhelmed by clutter or mess—either way, the result is a clean house.