I am a terrible housekeeper! If you know me you’re probably laughing because you know it’s true. I almost always have dishes in the sink, laundry piling up and a stack of books strewn across the couch or kitchen table or both.

I’m not bragging.

No really, I’m not. Believe me, if I’m having an, “I’m a failure” moment, 9 times out of 10 it’s because my house is trashed and I’m totally overwhelmed by it.

So being the bad housekeeper that I am, I find myself constantly looking for a “better system”. I can’t tell you the number of chore charts I’ve filled out for my family and I. And they always work out for a while…and then I slack off…and they don’t work anymore.

But I think, I’ve finally found the perfect solution to conquering my mess! We call it the Twenty Minute Tornado (or the 10 minute tornado if we’re pressed for time).

I’m sure I didn’t make this up but I don’t know who to give credit to so I’ll just share how it works in my house.

Step 1: Eat dinner at the kitchen table. If this doesn’t happen then a lot of times the tornado doesn’t either. So you could say this is the most important step.

Step 2: After dinner set the oven timer (for 10 or 20 minutes) and announce that the tornado has begun!

Step 3: Everyone cleans as fast as they can until the timer goes off.

We have pretty specific chores that everyone begins with, dad in the bathroom, kids take out trash and recycling and clean the kitty litter box, mom does dishes. Once those chores are complete everyone pitches in as needed. The ultimate goal is that with the 4 of us working together our living room, kitchen and bathroom will be spotless when the timer goes off.

We’ve been doing this for almost a year now and I can’t talk enough about how well it works. The kids like knowing that they only have to clean for a short amount of time and I like knowing that I don’t carry the weight of it all on my shoulders.

If we’re going out for dinner we will often do our 20 minute tornado right before we leave and it is so nice to come home to a clean house. (Sometimes we forget, see Step 1).

So, what”s your favorite housekeeping tip?