When we were in elementary school, we loved to get stickers. Even in Sunday school, we received gold stars to chart our attendance. What was it about those cute little stickers or stars that motivated us?

It was the reward! Sometimes the reward simply required showing up. Isn't that the way it is with most things? Showing up is half the battle.

Laundry, dishes, car pools, dust bunnies and the drudgery of our daily mundane lives takes a toll on our enthusiasm. It seems that there is a never-ending supply of dirty laundry and dirty dishes. When will it ever stop?

Well it won't, and we really don't want it to. We just need to find a way to turn the mundane things, or shall I say the maintenance of our home, into something fun that we do to bless our family.

Housecleaning seems like such a chore; this is why I don't call it that! I like to refer to it as a Home Blessing! Every little thing we do in our home blesses us and our family.

Changing the name gives it a more loving feeling. Work was always a punishment when I was growing up. If we did something wrong we are told to go clean our rooms. No wonder we hate to clean now; it feels like we are being punished.

We are not being punished any longer, and we should realize that this is our home, and we deserve to live in home that hugs us.

What if we turned keeping a home nice into a fun game for all the family? This is what we have done with the FlyLady system. The children would grow up (not like we did) thinking that house work was not a punishment. That would be a wonderful gift to give our babies.

Once I got a testimonial from a FlyLady member who found herself crying while doing the dishes. Then she had a wake-up call; she was not being punished. It was her home and she was washing the dishes because she wanted to keep her kitchen clean. The tears of punishment turned into tears of joy, because she was no longer having to wash dishes because she was not good enough. Please don't use housework as punishment for your babies.

Here is a sweet testimonial:

Dear FlyLady:

This isn't a testimonial so much as it a "light bulb" moment. I used to use "doing chores" as a punishment when my kids misbehaved. Now, with our new attitude of "home blessing," that doesn't work anymore! No more chores for punishment! I don't want them to think that doing the things that make one's home a peaceful place is hard, bad or distasteful.

I guess the punishment now will be "You can't use my FlyLady feather duster for a week!"

Laughing Out Loud (LOL) Thanks from me and my kids!

FlyBaby Ai in Hawaii

Not only do we need to change the names to protect us from our past, but we also need to reward ourselves quite often.

When I teach you how to "crisis clean," the most important part of getting our house ready for company is the 15 minutes we spend with our feet up drinking a cup of tea. That little 15-minute resting period is a reward. At the same time it is helping you to take care of yourself. Pushing yourself would be a form of punishment.

Please don't get caught up in that way of "stinking thinking" any longer. All you have to do is set your timer for 15 minutes and focus on your kitchen. Then when the timer goes off, spend 15 minutes focusing on your living room. After your timer goes off again, head to the main bathroom that company uses. When your timer signals after your third 15-minute session, it is time for you to stop and put your feet up and rest while you drink your water or a cup of tea.

Use this time to think about your next three 15-minute sessions. You are going to be so surprised at what you can accomplish with that timer and those 15-minutes resting sessions. This is your reward for staying focused!

I think that rewards should come every hour of every day. When you hear your clock chime on the hour, take this opportunity to reward yourself by drinking your water, reading a little in a favorite book or just sitting quietly with your eyes closed.

Right now on our Web site we are practicing developing new habits each month. Some of our members are decluttering for 15 minutes each day; others are enjoying the benefits of blessing their bodies with loving movements (exercise). After they do these things, they put a sticker on their calendars. By the end of the month their calendar is going to be so bright and colorful. Practicing your new habit and getting a sticker for it is a great way to chart your success and make it fun. We will practice if we get a sticker for it! Every day is a gold-star day when we turn the mundane things of life into a reason to celebrate.

Marla Cilley, a k a FlyLady, is the author of Sink Reflections (Bantam Books Trade Paperback). For more help, please go to her Web site: www.FlyLady.net. © 2005