Last updated on August 29th, 2021 at 12:34 pm
Okay, I Googled the term work bee and it doesn’t exist, but that is what our family has called our system for catching up on housework fast for years so that is what I am going to continue to call it. My guess is I stole it from the Amish, who host “quilting bees.”
A quilting bee is a lot like our work bee. You gather up a crowd of people–well, the people in your home–and you work together until the job is done.
One person cleaning a messy home from top to bottom can be a massive undertaking that takes a significant chunk of time–5 people tidying up a dirty house takes a lot less.
Why 5? Well, that is how many people in my family, you might have more or less helpers available.
If your helpers are too little to help in such an undertaking, have them cared for elsewhere while you and your husband work together to get the housework caught up.
For instance, my husband and I once enlisted the help of family and friends to watch the kids for two days when they were tiny while we decluttered and cleaned our home to get it ready to sell.
In those two days, we removed two truckloads of no longer needed items and cleaned and organized what remained.
After such a clean up I felt like my days were longer. They weren’t; I was simply no longer spending time sifting through, digging in, and cleaning around piles of clutter.
How To Get Caught Up On Housework Fast With A Family Work Bee
(Links in this post are affiliate links. I will be compensated when you make a purchase by clicking those links. See my disclosure page for more information)
1. Have a plan
Preferably at least a day in advance go through each room of the home and write down what needs to be done in that room. This will become your master plan for cleaning day and will make it easier to divide up the work before you get started.
Once you make up your plan, go through it and divide up the chores in the fairest way you can. What children can do will of course depend on age, so try to give the smallest members of the household the simpler chores and the older ones the more complex ones.
2. Make sure you have enough supplies on hand for everyone
I like having two brooms and dust pans and enough cleaners for everyone. I also make sure I have plenty of clean rags.
Here is a list of a few of our favorite cleaners
- Super Washing Soda: mix a quarter cup of super washing soda in a cleaning bucket filled halfway with warm water. Use it to wash grime and finger prints off of walls and cupboard doors.
- Rubber gloves: super washing soda can be hard on hands. Use rubber gloves to protect them.
- Non-toxic Cleaners: Our family like both the Seventh Generation brand of green cleaners as well as the Method brand. Both work well and don’t contain the nasty fumes of traditional cleaners that trigger my migraines. When my kids were really little I let them clean with a mix of vinegar and water with just a few drops of Castile soap. This worked fairly well and I didn’t have to worry about cleaner usage (one child was known for excessive cleaner usage)
- Scrub brush: I really like how this scrub brush fits in the palm of your hand and since it is also a soap dispenser it makes less mess.
3. Announce the family work day several days in advance
This helps the children know that Saturday won’t be a play day.
4. Go over the rules and who does what before you start
I give each child a written list of chores and tell them that they may be asked to do more if needed. I also give them a firm cut off time so they know when we will be stopping. Lastly I announce the prize for the day. Usually it is pizza at their favorite restaurant, followed by a Netflix movie enjoyed with dollar store candy.
5. Make one parent in charge of overseeing the children’s work
I am usually the director on working bee days. I clean too, but I also take time out to check the children’s work, show them how to clean something correctly or get them back on task if they are getting distracted.
6. Always end the work bee with something fun
I mentioned this in point four, but I thought it needed to be a point of its own too. Work bees go so much faster when you know that there is something fun at the end of them. It doesn’t have to be expensive; it could something as simple as having another family over who has children your children love to spend time with.
(psst…is clutter making it hard to clean? Join the Snail Pace Clutter Removers Facebook group and get the support you need to kick that clutter to the curb for good!)
This post is part of the 31 Day Time Management Series. Dig further into the series using the links below!
Introduction: 31 Days Of Time Saving Tips For The Work-At-Home Mom
Day One: Perform a Time Audit
Day Two: Night Owl Or Morning Bird?
Day Three: Where are Your Largest Windows?
Day Four: Making the Most of Small Windows
Day Five: Daily To Do Lists
Day Six: Maximizing The To Do List
Day Seven: Say No
Day Eight: Eliminate Poor Yes Choices
Day Nine: Put Your Time Offenders On a Budget
Day Ten: Combine Joy
Day Eleven: Making Effective Use of Waiting Time
Day Twelve: Making Use of Travel Time
Day Thirteen: Making The Most of Mom Taxi in Waiting Time
Day Fourteen: Take Time to Rest a Few Moments Each Day
Day Fifteen: Tag-Team
Day Sixteen: Involve the Kids
Day Seventeen: Mechanical Slaves
Day Eighteen: Outside Help
Day Nineteen: Timer Magic
Day Twenty: Take a Rest Day
Day Twenty One: Less Stuff, Less Mess, More Time
Day Twenty Two: Hold A Family Work Bee (you are here)
Day Twenty Three: Keep Gatherings Simple
Day Twenty Four: Saving Time in The Kitchen
Day Twenty Five: The Self Cleaning Home
Day Twenty Six: Streamlining Your Homeschooling day
Day Twenty Seven: Create an I Did It List
Day Twenty Eight: Create a Simple Cleaning Routine
Day Twenty Nine: Create To Go Bags
Day Thirty: Making Minimum Standards
Day Thirty One: Treat Life Like a Marathon Not a Sprint
Is daily life just a bit overwhelming? Feel like you are going all day long, but at the end of the day you have little to show for it? Check out Crystal Paine’s course Make Over Your Mornings. With just 15 minutes for 14 days, this course can shape up your days from overwhelming to enjoyable (well, at least most of them. We all have overwhelming days sometimes–no matter how good we are at time management).
Tired of living a chaotic life? I recommend taking Make Over Your Mornings and/or Make Over Your Evenings. These are 15 day, video driven courses that come with a workbook for you to complete. Each day’s lesson consists of a five minute video, five minutes of reading and a five minute workbook activity. These courses will help you streamline your day taking you from frazzled to calm.
Get snail-e-mail in your inbox each week!
A weekly email with the feel of snail mail. A peek into my week, a few deals so good I just have to share, and links to all of Snail Pace Transformations latest posts!