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holiday house cleaning

With Kids - Send in the Elves!

Moms are the work-horses of the holidays. Sorry, there's just no polite way to say it.

We clean. We shop. We clean. We wrap. We clean. We decorate. We clean. We cook. We clean. We entertain. We clean.

Did I mention cleaning? No wonder we moms turn into the Grinch before the goose is off the table. There's gotta be an easier way ...

Enter the elves. No, Santa's not sending down reinforcements. I'm talking about the "volunteers" stationed year-round in your home. It's time to call in the troops to help with the holiday house cleaning. 

Holiday House Cleaning with Elves (Kids)

You can make it painless. You just need 1. To have a plan and 2. to delegate - just a little.

Here's what you do:

Christmas Eve: No matter what your holiday traditions are, some things are constant.

The house will be a mess. You have to eat. You want to wear nice (preferably clean) clothes. You want a fire in the fireplace and music.

Assign tasks before the Big Day arrives and let them do a little preparation.

Cooking: Well, that's you. And maybe your mom if she's visiting. Try to work ahead as much as possible.

Make your menu, your grocery list, and shop today! Early if possible.

Now cook everything you can ahead of time. Make a plan for what goes into the oven when. You may have to borrow the oven of a vacationing neighbor. If that's a possibility, work it out with her now. 

Cleaning: No sense in doing too much too soon. Especially if you're a messy cook like me or if you have kids.

On Wednesday a.m., bright and early, do your last-minute cleaning. Each kid is in charge of his/her own room. Hubbie is in charge of baths and your room. 

You'd better do the living areas. They will never do it to suit you. 

Laundry: Figure out today what clothes everyone is wearing. Rush special dresses to the cleaners. Make sure everything else is spot-free. Put hubby on shoe detail.

Trash: Put a kid in charge. Tell him he must make sweeps twice a day, or he'll turn into a lump of coal. 

And on Christmas morning, that kid is in charge of stationing trash bags in strategic areas where the unwrapping will commence. 

And he's also in charge of hauling gift boxes out, and other trash out after the festivities are over.

Trees and holiday plants: If you have a tween or teen, put her in charge of keeping the treeChristmas plants, and decorative greenery watered.

Fire: Hubby. He also gets Christmas music and candle detail.

Table setting: Appoint the kids if they're old enough. Make sure the holiday linens are clean and ironed, and the silver is polished.

Dishes: Try to involve the whole family. One kid can gather up dirty linens. Another can scrape plates and bring dishes to the sink.

Another can cart out the trash. (We're probably running out of kids here.) Hubby can repackage leftovers and put them in the fridge. And you, my dear, have dish detail.

But after the dishes, if you've delegated holiday house cleaning properly, you can retire to the family room, put your feet up and enjoy the roaring fire your loving has stoked.

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› Holiday House Cleaning Tips