Friday, February 3, 2012

The House Fairy: I've Hit Rock Bottom

It's hard for me to motivate my kids to keep their rooms clean. Really hard.

In all honesty, they don't care. They don't care if the toys are put away, if the beds are made, if the books are all over the floor or if there are dirty dishes on the nightstands. They just don't care. No amount of nagging on my part makes them want to get it done.

This brings up the timeless nature vs. nurture question.

Are we born with the tendency to be a neat freak or a slob?

Perhaps most of us reside somewhere in between the extremes.

If there's a slob gene, it's quite possible my kids have it. Maybe slob is too strong of a word. Maybe I should instead say they are disorganized with pack rat tendencies.

I think, or rather know, that organization and good household cleaning habits can be learned. But, the desire has to be there.

Maybe it's too early to tell where my kids fall on the spectrum. I'll just say that not a single one of the three has ever cleaned or picked up anything without being told. I know some kids do this. I've seen at least one of my nieces do it on numerous occasions.

After years of giving reminders, begging, pleading, being authoritative and bribing to get my kids to do even a minimum amount of room cleaning, I've hit bottom.

Enter The House Fairy.

It's a pretty simple concept, really. I had to drop $15 before I could find out what it was. Still, it seems a small price to pay if the program works. To give the creators credit, I didn't think of it myself.  Kudos to them. I won't reveal too much because, if you check out the website, you'll see the premise is a closely guarded secret.

I introduced the program to my four and seven-year-old boys yesterday.  Four totally bought it, with the wide-eyed excitement that's usually reserved for Santa Claus. His room is clean for the second day in a row. Seven is on the fence. He's a skeptic by nature, so there's no surprise there. I'm hoping I can convince him it's worth it to get his room clean just to see if the House Fairy makes a surprise visit. He's halfway there, which is a huge step forward.

The real challenge will be modifying the program so my 12-year-old almost teenager will hop on board. Can I get him to keep his room clean? I don't expect perfect. But, I do expect a few basic chores to be done on a regular basis.

How do you motivate your kids to clean? Do you think your kids have the clean gene or the slob gene? What about yourself? Are you a natural born Neat Nick or Slovenly Sal?


  1. My kids have daily rotating chores which they have to do in order to be able to play with friends after school, play xbox, etc. These chores can include cleaning their room, unloading dishwasher, homework, feeding dog etc. Then on Saturday, they have bigger house chores that they do in order to earn their "work pay"...allowance if you will. My kids are 13, 11 and 8 year old twins. They know that by being a part of a family "TEAM"...we all work together. This system works for us.

  2. We are similar to Amy...we have daily chores that need to be done in addition to the big Saturday clean that entitles them to their weekly allowance. My husband and I also pitch in on Saturday in addition to our daily chores (such as cooking dinner every day!). As with her family, they see that we all need to work together for a common goal.