The Housekeeping Game: Capitalize On Your Family’s Cabin-Fever!
Let’s face it, we’re all getting on each others’ nerves. If absence makes the heart grow fonder, being quarantined together has the opposite effect. But when life hands you a load of poo, plant something and watch it grow! In this case, with a little Tom Sawyer psychology, you can turn all that pent up energy and free time into an opportunity for competition while teaching (or, let’s be honest, learning) some healthy housekeeping habits.
Contestants, On Your Marks!
Depending on the number and relative age/height/skill-level of the members of your household, you might choose to divide into pairs or teams to make things fair. We all know Mom is a superhero, and therefore at an unfair advantage, so certain handicaps may also need to be introduced (i.e., blindfolds, baby-carriers, or the ever popular egg on a spoon between the teeth). Encourage ingenuity and creative thinking (cordless drill + toilet brush = level up!), but discourage cheating (hide the roomba). To keep things fun and interesting, time each round using a favorite music track or two played as loudly as HOA bylaws will allow.
Round One: Hard Surfaces
On a white board or large piece of paper, list the specific surfaces that will constitute the field of play (tables, hard floors, countertops, non-fragile shelving, etc.) and assign each a number of points based on surface area and relative difficulty. Give each player/team an old towel/cloth, a spray bottle of your favorite natural cleaning solution and a color-coded means of claiming the points for an area (stickers, markers, magnets, half-eaten Jolly Ranchers). When the music begins, pick a surface and go at it. Before moving on to the next surface you must return to the board and claim your points. When the music stops (surfaces not completed will come into play in a moment, be patient!), tally up the points for each player. All players will then tour the claimed surfaces and agree on whether to issue penalties for missed spots (be fair to others as you would have them be fair to you). The winner gets to enjoy a frosty beverage and heckle while the remaining contestants finish any surfaces not completed in the time allotted.
Round Two: Carpet & Upholstery
Begin this round with a coin-toss, arm wrestling or game of Rock/Paper/Scissors/Lizard/Spock to determine who has to empty the vacuum cleaner. Players/teams then divide the carpets, area rugs, soft furniture, vehicle interiors, willing pets, etc. in a way deemed equitable by everyone. Using the same vacuum cleaner, each player takes a turn attacking their apportioned area as thoroughly as possible before depositing their extractions in a fresh garbage bag. After all turns have been taken, the contents of each bag are compared by weight, volume or general gross factor, and a winner is chosen. The winner gets to keep any loose change and snack foods unearthed from the sofa cushions,while the loser takes out the trash.
Final Round: The Nitty Gritty
If there is a clear winner at this juncture, they get the advantage of going first. If not, start with the youngest or moodiest to keep them interested. The first player selects from a predetermined list of the grossest tasks your imaginations can offer up (i.e., emptying the litterbox/birdcage/horse stall, scrubbing Dad’s favorite toilet, removing leftovers/biology experiments from the refrigerator, washing the teenager’s gym clothes, etc.) and “dares” one of the other players to tackle the job. The chosen one then has the option to accept (+1 point) or refuse (-1 point), and then issue the next dare. Each time a task is refused it doubles in point value. When all tasks have been accepted, work (and trash-talk) begins. While tackling your own task(s), the objective is to make your competitor’s tasks more unappealing by offering colorful comparisons, metaphors or other descriptive language. If they withdraw from the task (or lose their proverbial cookies), all other players get a 25 point bonus. The winner at the end of this round should earn a boon befitting their efforts and interests (extended TV time, layer cake, professional massage, pet tarantula, etc.).
Using these ideas as a starting point, your household can make a significant dent in the everyday tasks that the honest among us will admit go ignored all too often among the details of our busy lives. By investing the time and energy to make cleaning fun, you gain valuable bonding time, teach healthy habits, alleviate boredom, boost mood-elevating neurotransmitters, and lighten the load on your weekly cleaning service which means more money in your pocket for prizes like that pet tarantula!