Friday, February 28, 2014

I Can't Do It Myself Experiment #1: Family Cleaning Night and Indoor Slip and Slide!

Cookie Dough Eating after Family Cleaning Night

I have noticed a trend in my blogging. Have you?

It's here. And here. And here. Oh, and here, here, and here.

I say I am going to write consistently. And then...silence.

This has been a lifelong trend. Excitedly, enthusiastically overcommitting. I get involved in too many things all at the same time, then fail colossally. Recently, in my quest to be more intentional, I have started to examine this trend so that I can intentionally target the problem.

Part of the problem is just me. I have ADHD. Yes, surprising, I know. Passionately jumping into projects without a single thought of how they will be completed is a classic symptom.

But over the years I have become aware of this tendency and have gotten much better at stopping, thinking, then committing. I don't think that committing to writing two or even four blog posts a month is unrealistic for me. So I can't blame it all on the ADHD. I think an even larger part of it is this tiny little bit of controlling, obsessive-compulsive personality streak that, thanks to the strong-willed stubbornness I got from my dad, manifests as a resistance to asking for and accepting help.

Interestingly, I wasn't diagnosed with ADHD until after my freshman year of college, much, much later than most. The psychiatrist said that I was able to be successful for so long where other ADHDers were not was partly due to my extremely organized, routine-oriented, engaged and concerned mother and the beensy bit of her personality I inherited. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Mom. Without you, I would still be writing my college application essays.

While I hate schedules, forget to fill Madeline's milk seconds after saying I will, can change my plans with zero notice, read 8 books at the same time, and never follow recipes (or directions) exactly, this little bit of OCD allows me to mostly function like a responsible adult. With the expenditure of lots of mental energy (and a smartphone that bleeps at me), I can maintain appointments, give my kids their medicine, keep appropriate amounts of food in the house and remember to pay bills. However, these OCD tendencies also manifest in really weird ways that are getting weirder the older I get:

  • One of my BFFs and fellow OCDer, Brooke, and I once spent a solid 2 hours organizing the (maybe 25?) books on our shelf because we couldn't decide if they should be arranged by genre, color, size, title or alphabetically by author's last name. I think we eventually opted for the aesthetic approach, but it always bothered me a little that they weren't in a logical order...
  • This schedule I recently created:
  • I have been known to refold an entire basket of laundry because the shirts were not folded specifically so the sleeves were tucked under and the front facing up.
  • Clothes hanging in closest must face the center - that means that on Madeline's side of the closet must face the right and Nora's side must face the left.
  • I'm sure this is a new one to Nick (I sometimes try to hide the crazy): I REALLY prefer the clothes in my closet to be organized by type of clothing, from left to right, in decreasing amounts of fabric (i.e. long sleeved shirts have to be further left than short sleeved shirts).
  • Every single expenditure must be recorded twice (once in a notebook and once on my Excel spreadsheet) by specific category of expenditure and then double checked online and marked as double checked appropriately in the notebook.

At any rate, I end up doing lots of things by myself because, let's face it, I'm the only one who does it right.

But since I'm being forced to face the fact that I can't do it all myself, I have started to experiment on ways that I can accept help and, hard as it is, swallow my critiques. I thought it would be fun to chronicle these on my blog as a monthly "I Can't Do It Myself" experiment series. 

I thought I would initiate this series with one of the most successful of these experiments to date: Family Cleaning Night.

Madeline scrubbing the table, Nora sweeping the floor.
This brilliant idea came from my friend, Cory, during a recent Girls' Night Out. We were discussing ways to keep a minimum level of sanitation at home without spending our entire life cleaning while simultaneously teaching our kids responsibility.

Our Family Cleaning Night is different than Cory's but employs the same basic idea - everyone pitches in to clean for a short amount of time.

The G's Family Cleaning Night with Optional Indoor Slip and Slide
Time to completion: 60 minutes (10 minutes picking up, 30 minutes cleaning and slip and sliding, 20 minutes eating delicious sugary treats)

  • Whatever you use to clean your house
  • Whoever else lives in your house
  • A waterproof floor (optional)
  • Water (optional)
  • Dish soap (optional)
  • Towels (optional)
  • Slip and Slide in the kitchen! Water, dish soap and swimsuits...
  • Swimwear (optional)

Directions we follow:

  1. Every Friday before dinner, while we are waiting for Nick to come home, the girls and I spend 10 minutes picking up the house (basically, we get toys and clothes off the floor). 
  2. After dinner, we don our appropriate swimwear, set the timer for 30 minutes, turn on some rockin' music and start our cleaning tasks. Nora sweeps the kitchen floor. Madeline wipes off the table and counter. Lidia "dusts." I vacuum and "help" Lidia dust. Nick cleans the bathroom. 
  3. Once the girls finish their individual tasks (about 15 minutes into cleaning), they get to "mop" the kitchen floor with their bodies...they call this "slip and slide." Basically, I dump some water and dishsoap on the floor and they slide back and forth in bubbly, slippery bliss until the timer beeps. 
  4. Wipe up the excess water on the floor with towels and voila! a surprisingly clean floor. 
  5. Dry off
  6. Sit down for a family treat. This is usually ice cream, but tonight it was cookie dough. 
  7. Bath (this is critical) and bed

It's a blast and tonight even Nick got into the water action!

It's crazy that it works. Granted, our house is under 1500 square feet, but 30 minutes is the perfect time to get both bathrooms cleaned and the entire house vacuumed and dusted (including under couches, beds, etc).

Prior to the initiation of this brilliant activity, I would spend 4-5 hours cleaning the house every single Friday. While the house isn't perfect now, it's clean, it's fun and it's FAST! It's a great way to start the weekend and I think it's a perfect solution for roommates, spouses, and families. And really, who can say no to slip and slide, even on the kitchen floor.

Slip and sliding with daddy!

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