I don't think I've ever had an original idea, but I'm very good at taking hold of the good ideas of other people and making them work in my own life. Many of my "great ideas" have come from my mom. One, in particular, keeps my children enthused without fail: visits from the House Fairy.
The House Fairy is a distant cousin of the Tooth Fairy, and she comes to reward children whose rooms are tidy and whose beds are made. She leaves a small treat on the child's pillow, anything from a small bag of chips or a candybar to a sheet of stickers or a cool pen. Usually it's something edible at our house.
I would much rather reward children for good behavior than punish them for bad. I also would much rather have clean bedrooms than disaster areas, and I don't subscribe to "just shutting the doors". Our children are expected to have beds made and rooms tidied before coming down in the morning for scripture study, but during the week "tidy" gets a little more loosely interpreted. All I have to say when I see that things need a boost is, "I heard the House Fairy may be paying a visit today." That's it. They know exactly what this means, and they want in on the loot. And it's so much easier than nagging.
Sometimes I will do a spot check and say, "I don't know if the House Fairy will think this is good enough. Better be sure!" Or, "I'd go and remake that bed if I were you before the House Fairy gets here." They wait anxiously for her arrival, and subsequent approval. I never let them see her, of course. She must be protected. And when my children say, "Mom, can you put the candy on our beds now?" I reply, "Do I look like the House Fairy?"
This was one of my favorite inventions of my mother. It was an easy score for me too, since I was OCD on the cleanliness spectrum. We were also rewarded for having our chores done, and I remember July mornings before Summer Band, sweeping the wrap-around porch of our three story NJ house before the humidity was too oppressive. My favorite House Fairy gifts were the packs of cheese and crackers with the little red knife. My least favorite was the package of Cabbage Patch Kid briefs (GRANNY PANTIES) in shades of purple, pink, and yellow, right before my freshman year of high school. Let me tell you about changing in the locker room for gym class, being one of the only little tiny (Mormon) white girls amidst a sea of Yolanda's and Taniqua's when your mother buys you Cabbage Patch Kid briefs. Yeah. Talk about Fear Factor. Well, I'll tell you another time.
The important thing here is that children can be coaxed into having clean bedrooms with a little visit from the House Fairy. It works wonders, and I'd be glad to give her your address if you'd like. Tell the kids she's coming, and stand back to be amazed!