Cleaning Inspectors...

As you've heard me mention, we are selling our home (goes on the MLS today!! YIKES!!!)  so in preparation to listing it we have been in dejunking, decluttering, and in heavy duty cleaning mode! We are pretty good at day to day cleaning and picking up after our selves but when it comes to having it in "perfect  model condition" I'm sad to say we fall short!! We definitely LIVE in our house if you know what I mean! 
don't get me wrong, our kids have chores and work hard to keep things in order  and let me tell you...teaching 5 little people how to care about cleanliness and order is no easy feat! It requires time (takes WAY longer to teach a kiddo to clean than to just do it yourself), patience, love, persistence, and consistency.. just like it would to develop any good habit.  I know it is important and it will help them in so many areas of their life. 
Especially if you have some naturally unorganized boys kids that need help  in this area. We have worked hard over the years to instill good cleaning habits and have done routine chore lists, charts, incentives...we have tried LOTS of things that work and find that when it stops working we adapt or try something new.

 When they were smaller we did "miracle music" where getting the chores done was like a game- we played a series of songs that had a set job/chore associated with each particular song and the challenge was to get each chore done by the end of each song. they got a point for each song/chore they completed and on their chart they would write down how many points they got. When they got to 100pts (about a month if they got all their pts each time) they got to go on a date and pick what to do with mom or dad - which was written on their chart as a reminder to what they were working towards. They loved it and it totally worked for quite a while. It even worked for mom and dad too, while the monkeys cleaned, Mike and I would clean up the kitchen mess from dinner and pick up around the house until the songs where over (which were fast paced classical music that made me want to move fast!)- it was about 20 minutes of music (4-5 songs) while everyone in the house age 2 and up would clean like mad! It was awesome!!! After a few years of that they got tired of the songs and so we changed it up.Recently we've done "10 for 10" or "20 for 20" still to music of our choice (10 or 20 mins of cleaning depending on how much cleaning is involved in exchange for 10 or 20 minutes of family dance or family wii afterwards) this works good too...
But now with the higher expectation of having it look "perfect" and like nobody lives here, we have had to step up our game...so we came up with "cleaning inspectors" . We recently hired an inspector come to tell us what things needed fixing before we listed the house. The kids saw him inspect each room carefully and thoroughly...kind of like I was doing each night with each and every single room in the house before bed. I quickly grew tired of telling each child that while "yes, it looks cleaner than before and by our usual standards it works" (neat and tidy with nothing on floor things put away, but still a few books on dresser or dolls in the corner ) but for SHOWING our home to potential buyers it was NOT clean enough...poor kids! I was feeling like a super picky, naggy momma! So we came up with a game to get each child to "catch the vision" of what we were looking for with out it having to be such a drag!! So each kiddo (J,Z,S,B) has a night that they get to be "Cleaning Inspector" (the other 2 nights Mike and I trade off and we don't do it on Sunday:)
here are the rules:
1. Inspector goes around inspecting how everyone is doing during our "20 for 20" routine (it's longer these days since we are aiming for perfection;) and the inspector just observes and can (if he/she is a nice inspector) give tips or point out areas they may be missing.
2. Inspector gives 5 minute warning when it's almost time to be done. Then a 1 minute warning.
3. Each kiddo has to report to the inspector when their assigned area is complete
4. The inspector then carefully evaluates each area and then can give 1 warning if they missed something and they have 2 minutes to fix this while he goes on to inspect the other areas. afterwards the inspector will reevaluate and approve or disapprove.
5. If the inspector approves he/she can give out a piece of candy like a starburst or something small as their reward (if it's late I stick the candy in their lunch box the next day)
6. If the other kiddos report that the inspector did a good job (was nice and not mean to them or was helpful to them) the inspector gets 1 piece of candy
7. After the inspector reports that the house is clean, Mike or I go through and make sure the inspector did his job- if it's totally perfect the inspector gets another piece of candy

So the inspector can earn up to 2 pieces of candy AND doesn't have to do any actual work, other than gently guiding and supervising the work and make sure it is getting done. They love it because they get 2 pieces of candy with out having to work 1 x a week and they feel like they get to be in charge. I love this because it is helping them learn how to do things more thoroughly and develop a critical eye...AND it keeps me from hovering and nagging and frees up my time to do other things they can't do like packing or putting away my own laundry (though Sav could and would probably do this for me- she's a sassy one;) 

So far this is working! I'm hoping we can keep it up till the house sells and hopefully put it into practice in our new home too! Wish me luck!! I know there are millions of ideas out there on how to teach our kiddos the value of hard work and I love hearing what others do that works for them...do you have something that works for you? 

Do share! 
(they're never too young to start-right?:)


  1. great ideas, caroline! it's always much easier to get the kids to clean, if you make it fun instead of a chore. our kids love to be scuba divers and go swimming in the ocean to clean it up. don't know where we came up with this, but somewhere along the line we started doing this. when they're dragging their feet, we say, 'put on your scuba gear!' and they get really excited and pretend they're swimming.

  2. Awesome ideas . . . thanks for sharing! I definately need to do something new to "shake" things up. My kids have been too lax with chores lately. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Miracle Music (thank you for introducing us to it) . . . it truly was a "miracle" for us when we were selling our house and trying to keep it "show" worthy. But like your kids, my kids get tired of it after awhile. Right now they each have chore charts, with morning and evening chores and an area of the house that they are always "responsible" for -- other than their own bedrooms/bathrooms. I think where I'm falling short is that I havn't attached any rewards (or take aways - like no playing with friends until chores are done) this time around. Thanks for the nudge to amp up my game!! (p.s. I really like your "cleaning inspectors" idea . . . great way to get things done WELL.) I'm feeling inspired!! :) Love you!

  3. I love these ideas too! I definitely want to try the miracle music with Liv!