How To Be A Cleaning Tornado (The Reboot Day 9) - Sarah Mae
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How To Be A Cleaning Tornado (The Reboot Day 9)

She means business, folks!

As many of you know, my sister is in town for a couple of weeks. What you may not know is that she happens to be a tornado.

My sister arrived on Wednesday, and by Saturday the house was wrecked. We’d been too busy talking, making my brother watch Jurassic  Park (he’s 23 and he’d never seen it!) and driving all over the land doing fun things together. I knew I’d have to get my home in order before Sunday or my husband would feel terrible trying to relax in a chaotic environment. I also knew that I’d put off the cleaning until the last possible minute because I’m somewhat allergic to cleaning.

But I had to get the house in order. In was already Saturday evening, so I went out to get the babes a movie so I could just focus on cleaning. When I got home, I walked into a tornado, a cleaning tornado.

Now mind you, I am like a butterfly. I flit around from thing to thing, getting something done here and then there, getting caught up in distraction and flowing along with the breeze. I take my time when I clean, or in other words, I’m slow (my sister couldn’t believe it took me 45 minutes to clean my girls bedroom).

Really slow.

I like to listen to music and look through the things I’m cleaning, ponder for a bit, remember I have to answer an email, think about that shirt I want to wash, and oh yea, I need to get a new one of those the next time I’m out. Wouldn’t the pillows be prettier if I arranged like them this, yes. Okay, now where was I? The dishes, right…

Writing this post is kind of how I clean. I’m already distracted and need to get back to the story at hand. Where was I?

Ah yes, my sister, the tornado.

So I come home, walk into the kitchen and see that it’s clean (first of all, let’s just take a pause here and say a little “hallelujah” because I didn’t have to clean it.)

She’s in there whipping those pans into shape. “Wow, you’re fast” I say, “I’ve only been gone for 10 minutes”. She begins to clear the dining room table, scrub it clean, pick up trash, and tell my kids what they need to do to help – no movie until the house is clean. I’m just standing there, watching, and she says, “if you just work fast and get it done, then you’ll have time to do the things you want to do.”

Just like that, matter of fact.

Just do it. And do it fast.

Before I knew it, I was running around cleaning, and so were my children! We all became cleaning tornados and within 15 minutes the upstairs main spaces were clean.

How to Be a Cleaning Tornado

Give Yourself a Challenge and Do It in a Set Amount of Time

There is something about a challenge and a time limit that makes you focus and move. It is incredibly effective to go into cleaning mode and just do the work as fast as you can. One of the inspirations I have is from this 31 Days to Clean Mamas of Little Ones Facebook group. They give each other challenges and you have to do them within a set time frame. They hustle and do whatever they can in that 10 or 15 minutes span of time, and then they encourage one another and do proverbial high-fives before moving on with their day. Which brings me to this…

Don’t Clean Alone

The women in the group above live all over the U.S. and yet they clean together and encourage each other daily. They’ve been doing this for about a year now. These women have not only come up with a system (Task #1,2,3,4), but they jump on when they have the time and just ask, “anyone up for a challenge?” Within a few minutes someone else jumps on and they pick a task and go for it, together even though they are miles a part. I love it. Here are some of the quotes I’ve seen in the group:

” I am SO THANKFUL to have ladies to work with today! I need to encouragement and motivation!”

“Ok lovely ladies! onto #1!!! WE can do this!!!”

“BREAK!! What did you get done so far?” “I got started on the kitchen and took a phone call from my doctor…. Second half will be stronger!” “I got all the dirty laundry moved to the laundry room, sorted, and a load started, and I exercised for 10 min!” 

This reminds me, live cleaning on Wednesday! Stay tuned for details!

Get Hyper-Focused

If I have to clean fast, I’v got to get focused. No music, no organizing, no emails, no nothing. Just hone in on the task at hand and go, go, go! I see my sister do this and it works wonders! Once I finish the task at hand, then I can listen to my music and slow clean or organize something else that doesn’t take priority.

Get the Babes Involved

It’s amazing what a child can do when there is a clear focus about attaining a goal together, quickly. I couldn’t believe all that my children got done as my sister was no-nonsense. They had no option but to clean, and so clean they did! I get too slack about making the children help me, I either move to slow myself which doesn’t motivate them, or I get upset that they are not cleaning fast enough…they get distracted so easily (hmmm…wonder where that comes from?)

Watching my sister, it helped me to realize that I just need to say, “okay loves, we’re a family, a team, and we’re going to get this done in this amount of time and then we can play.” I find that when I give my children specific, age-appropriate tasks, they do the work. It also helps if they know they have a reward when they’re done: they can play, go outside, watch a movie, get a treat, etc.

Your Turn

What are your best cleaning tips when it comes to getting the job done fast?

Today’s Challenges

Mary Challenge: Practice focusing. Pick one verse and take about 10 minutes to focus on it alone. Let it roll through your mind, let it marinate, and ask God to speak to you through it. See if you can set it to memory by just meditating on it.

Martha Challenge: Give yourself a 15 minute challenge. Pick something that needs done in your house, perhaps just a main space clean, and set your time for 15 minutes and get all hyper-focused and get as much done in that time frame as you can. See if you can get your babes to help as well!

If you want to find a 31 Days to Clean Facebook group, look here.

Happy cleaning!

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  • Traci Michele

    Great advice!  I love doing both ways… I guess it’s just the mood I’m in … and if I’m having company coming over in say, 15 minutes.  That gets me cleaning like a tornado!  lol  Love, Traci Michele

  • Sam

    What a great post! Whenever I have a big day of cleaning ahead, I will write out a schedule with the days tasks on it. If I don’t finish a chore before the time is up, I move on and get back to it later. My husband is always amazed at how quickly the house can go from trashed to beautiful! 

  • Kate

    For years I was part of an online community that had a section where we shared our 15 minute cleaning/organizing project for the day. It was VERY helpful. And every once awhile I remember and institute it in the family for a week. It’s really helpful.

    Periodically we do, what we call White Tornado cleaning. Everyone works SUPER hard and SUPER fast to get the cleaning done in the visible areas. Usually when we have company coming and have 15 minutes or so to get the house pulled together.

    It IS exciting progress in my life that after all these years (and with 8 children) I CAN pull the house together in those 15 minutes of White Tornado cleaning! ;-D Your specific points are great ones that we’ve sort of learned through trial and error (mostly error) but is GREAT to be reminded of!!

    Thanks for this encouraging post today!

    • Sarah Mae

      I’m def going to start white tornado cleaning!

  • Kristin Koehler

    Yay. I needed this motivation for today and getting my house clean! One thing I will say is that I don’t have children (unfortunately) but I have been around so many little ones. My aunt used to come for visits and I lived with her for a long while and one thing that worked SOOOO great with her kids (until they were about 10 and realized it was not quite right) was to play a little game that she called the “10 second tidy” and she would count to 10…over the course of about 20 minutes, yelling out a number every couple of minutes…and these kids would go MAD at the challenge to get cleaning and hurry and get it done before she got to 10. I mean…like mini cleaning tornadoes they were! So, remember that…kids like challenges too!! But it is important to make them help out, otherwise children will grow lazy.

    Also, I always set a timer on my cell phone. I say, “Today I am cleaning for 60 minutes, that gives me 15 minutes per room.” And so I set four 15-minute timers on my phone and I go to town. That personal challenge to beat the clock makes me clean SO much faster! 

  • Kristin Koehler

    Just wanted to add that my 3 year old nephew was born to clean. Lol. He LOVES to help out and clean. When I fold laundry and he’s around, I give him all of the rags to fold. He has loved folding rags since he was big enough to hold them. I usually had to do it over, but now he can fold them to my liking. Anyhow, funny story…he’s staying with my Mom and she said yesterday morning she heard this awful racket very early in the morning and he had gotten up and started smashing cans with the can smasher on the wall. Haha.

    • Sarah Mae

      Why couldn’t my children have been born to clean? 😉

  • Jennifer Lambert

    I am a tornado. My 11 year old daughter is like you: a butterfly. She flits and ponders with everything she does. You make it sound sweet instead of insanely irritating. I need to try to make a better effort not to get upset with her because that’s her and she’s not me. I needed to hear this! Thank you.

    • Sarah Mae

      Love the insight with your daughter!

  • Dory

    I do everything fast… But that is because I wait till the last min:( I will have to admit tho it does seem like I have time for things that other friends wouldn’t consider adding to their schedules!  I am trying to put more focus on my house and family this summer.  One tip I have is Get all your “maids”(washer, dryer, crock pot, dishwasher, ect) working first thing in the morning and then the 20 min hustle before hubby gets home works out much better!!

    • Sarah Mae

      Oh, I can relate! I get super fast right before my husband gets home! 😉

  • Scmom4Jesus

    I am a butterfly when I clean.  I do wish I was a tornado lol  Great post and thank you for the motivation….off to clean something 🙂  Have a great day!

    • Sarah Mae

      You, too!

  • Shelly @ Frugal Family Home

    I am so a tornado. I don’t like to clean so I want to get the job done as fast as I can so I can get to something I really want to do. I also give the kids tasks and have a reward at the end of the task to keep them focused. They love to help but can be more like  butterflies, so the reward helps to keep them focused. They will love the 15 min cleaning today. My son really likes to time himself on almost anything so it will be like a game for him.

  • Eyvonne

    My husband is the tornado in our house.  He’ll schedule 10, 15, or 30 (when it’s bad) minute cleaning times where the whole family just drops everything and cleans.  It is amazing what you can do with short, intensely focused time.

  • CMama

    I don’t like cleaning, but I am still super slow. My husband is a tornado, and I just don’t get how he does it!

    • Sarah Mae

      My husband is like that as well!

  • Sharon

    This post was written for me!  I’ve been feeling crummy and have really let the house go.  I had big intentions for cleaning today, but it’s so hot and I don’t feel well, so I was just gonna veg (the best I can while caring for my 2 yr old).  But, as soon as I read your sister’s words:

    “if you just work fast and get it done, then you’ll have time to do the things you want to do.” 

    I stopped reading, got up and unloaded the dishwasher.   Then I finished reading the post.  Now I’m headed to load the dishwasher!  Thanks for the inspiration!
    P.S.  Sisters are great.  My little sister has so much wisdom, it is astounding.  Unfortunately, she hates to clean as much as I do!

    • Sarah Mae

      Sisters are great! So glad her words motivated you!

  • Jenny

    I am going to try out that facebook group!
    I like how the pictures on your blog change.. how do you do that?

    • Sarah Mae

      The Instagram pics? It’s a plug-in from WordPress. 🙂

  • Beth Williams

    I’m a cleaning tornado myself, with some help.  I listen to music and do what needs to be done. 

    It also helps that I have a friend who does a lot of the housekeeping for me, but I still do all the laundry, dishes, cleanup of sticky counters, sweep floors, some of the dusting–hubby does some also, etc. 

    Best of luck to everyone on their challenge today!

  • Pamela

    I have a money jar for each of my older kids, 8, 63/4, and 5 years old.   They have their name on their jars.   When ever they clean without complaining, without disobeying, and get their job done they get some coins to put in their money jar.   If they complain, or drag their feet and put their job off they do not get any money for their jar , but they still have to clean up. 
    I also give away fruit gummies, and they have to have their room clean before playing any kind of video game or computer game.  
    Kind of funny but we call ourselves Team Henry, we are a team and it is a group effort. 

      My son is very competitive and loves to race, so we have  cleaning races.   They clean one room and I clean another room and we set the timer and who ever wins gets a dollar and bragging rights 😉  

    Sometimes all these wonderful ideas don’t work, they just don’t want to clean and neither do I.   So we always fall back on if you don’t clean up your room then you don’t get to play on the computer or video games.   If I clean up your room then the toys I pick up goes in the shed for a few weeks.   

    I notice I have to change things up, rotate ideas.  

    I have enjoyed reading your post you are such an encouragement.  Thank you. 

    • Mary

      Hi Pamela, I also have children ages 8, almost 7 & recently turned 5 plus our babies ages 22 months & 8 weeks. I’m always encouraged to know there are others in a similar stage of life:) We do chore charts for the older three. If they get everything checked off for the week they get to chose something from “the reward box”, a dollar or an icee.

    • Sarah Mae

      Thank you! I love doing cleaning races with my kiddos!

  • MK Jorgenson

    This is a reminder to be thankful for my little apartment: set a timer for 15 minutes, and I can have the whole place picked up…and usually time to at least start dishes.

    • Sarah Mae

      That’s great!

  • Stephanie

    I used to be a tornado, now I am a butterfly.  Years of sleeplessness I guess–there is no tornado energy left!  I try to remind myself that slow and steady wins the race, except that it doesn’t with so many littles living in one space!  I have begun enlisting my children more and trying to do everything at least a little faster.  It helps.

  • Rebecca Busenitz

    Great advice, Sarah! I’ve tried setting a timer for 10/15 minutes recently. It works wonders when I have to get work done fast. It motivates me, helps me focus, and helps me keep a good attitude – because I’ll be done soon…

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