Don’t you just love it when God gives you an opportunity to serve? Our family was blessed with a chance to help dear friends that had their tenth baby on Tuesday at 32 weeks gestation. Mom and baby are doing great, but with 6 other children at home, it was impossible for dad to spend as much time at the hospital as he wanted. Thankfully we have a van to transport and lots of floor space for pallets.
I quickly realized that with 13 children in the house, our normal morning and evening chores just weren’t going to cut it. If each child left one thing out of place an hour (only one?!?!?), we would be buried in clutter by evening chore time. I had just a few minutes to come up with a plan that didn’t involve me doing all the work and was fun. God dropped just the right idea into my brain – Pick Up Sticks. (Well, it started as cards, but has evolved into sticks.)
First I listed all the rooms I wanted the kids to keep picked up on index cards. Every couple of hours, I had each child draw a card and pick up anything out of place in that room. They didn’t need to really clean it, just pick up the clutter and make sure the floors were clean enough for the babies to be down. (At one point we had 3 one-year-olds playing.) It worked beautifully! No complaints, whining, fussing, etc. The kids were amazed that it only took 5 minutes to straighten up.
Later in the day two more families joined us for some fellowship. That brought the total to 23 kids, 5 adults, and 1 dog. At pick up time, the kids paired up and tackled their rooms. At the end of the day, the house was clean, the kids were happy, and I wasn’t stressed. Sounds like a perfect day to me. We even had time for the kids to sew.
After all our friends went home, my kids asked to keep the pick up times. They loved having a clean house all day and an easier chore time at night. We decided to add pick up times before lunch and right before bed. We are keeping our normal chore times in the morning and late afternoon. I love seeing the kids smile as they draw their rooms. Smiles and chores don’t often go together at our house. The cards were getting pretty ragged after a couple of days use, so I wrote the room names on craft sticks. I added shapes to each card so my non-readers could identify the rooms easier. The kids think playing Pick Up Sticks is more fun than cleaning time. I think anything that works is great!