This post comes from my long-time dear friend, Lainie. Her ideas about practical ways to help a household run smoothly even with small children underfoot (as well as so many other things) have encouraged me over the years. I hope you find the idea she writes about here helpful as well. I certainly plan to give Lines a try with my boys.
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Greetings from San Diego! My name is Lainie and I have known Kariane for about 28 years… wow! When we were growing up we had plans for our families to live right next door to each other so we could continue sharing life together like we did in middle school, high school, and college. While it didn’t work out that way (we live in different states) technology makes it easy to share life, ideas, encouragement, and support from afar.
I have 4 kids (18, 16, 13, and 10) and have homeschooled since my oldest was 4. Needless to say, my house got incredibly messy every single day and cleaning up isn’t on the list of priorities for little children. In fact, they don’t even notice the mess. On top of that, when they do pick up they don’t notice that sock behind the chair or the toys back in the corner. And honestly, they don’t care.
But I care and I want those things picked up! So what do you do? I’d like to share with you a trick I used for years and years that made clean up time so much easier. Lines! Make lines! This takes just a few minutes. Mom or dad goes through the area to be cleaned and places every item in a single line that snakes across the floor. Not a pile, a line. A nice long line of shoes and socks and toys and cups and markers and books…. Anything and everything on the floor goes into the line.
Then the magic happens. Instead of saying, “Clean up the living room” you say, “Clean up the line.” It’s less overwhelming because it’s very clear what needs to be picked up. There’s no more nagging about stray toys in corners because everything is in the line. When the line is gone, the job is done! And it makes cleaning up fun. I made lines in the house every day. Sometimes we had lines going through every room in the house! And then we cleaned them up together. It got to the point where they would come in from playing outside, see a line, and just know to clean it up. My oldest would say, “I love lines!” (Not all the kids were this enthusiastic.)
Then when the kids get older they can help make the lines which teaches them to notice everything that is out of place. And when they’re even older they are pros at picking up a room on their own. Lines saved my sanity and taught my kids how to tidy up. Now that they are older they do an outstanding job when asked to clean a room. I hope you give lines a try!