Sometimes I think I'm pretty ingenious. Throw a problem at me, I can usually find a way to solve it. Example: my friend was complaining that her son had lost 4 pairs of gloves so far this year at school. She tried tying strings to them (he's 6, so this is not cool); didn't work. She ordered him to the lost & found; no luck. She threatened that he'd have to go without gloves; not a good threat - it was a cold winter. I suggested that the next time he lost them she send him to school in his older sister's hand-me-down gloves (the pinker the better). She did, and it worked. Suddenly, he found not one, but three pairs of gloves emblazened with his name in the school's lost & found. Problem solved.
In our house, the problem is clutter. Give me 30 minutes notice that you're coming, and you would never know we live in clutterville. We've got baskets and junk cupboards galore to swiftly scoop up the mess and put on a neat and tidy face. The problem then becomes the baskets and junk cupboards, because now nothing is organized and we're constantly digging through mountains of stuff in response to "Mom, where's my...?" I can honestly say that the junk does not belong to me. My kids, my husband: they're the slobs. I needed a plan. I tried a bunch of things that didn't work and then I had the mother of all ideas: a game.
The game is called "Clean Sweep". In a small box I put several tasks (e.g. clean out the linen closet, organize the tupperware cupboard, organize the bookshelves, etc.). There are tasks for me (pink paper), tasks for my husband (blue paper) and tasks for the kids (green paper). The tasks are appropriate for that person (my husband has to clean up the area around his desk, a job no one else could or should do). Each Friday we each pick a task and the task has to be done by Sunday at 3PM. This is our fourth week of the game and it's working! The kids can't wait for Friday night; they love their tasks (even asking, "can I pick another one?!" when they're done). My husband hates it, but is shamed into it by the kids' enthusiasm. Slowly, the house is coming together and it's not just me doing the cleaning.
Ingenious, I tell ya!