Ten years ago, Carol Paul of Bowie struggled to get her son, Bucky, to help clean their house. By the time he was in his 20s, she said, he was coming home from college once a week just to help out — thanks to a cleaning “system” Paul and her husband created. She is sharing that system in her new book.
“I would ride my bike 15 miles back home, so it was kind of like a cool way to get home once a week and spend time with my family. You didn’t really think twice about the cleaning,” said Bucky Paul, now 23. He recently graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park, and lives in Baltimore.
He still makes it home every Thursday for cleaning night, he said.
“Kids respond to it how players respond to coaches. To be a coach is to be a salesman,” said Carol Paul, 47, who co-owns a basketball camp and comes from a family of coaches.
Paul runs Coach Wootten’s Basketball Camp, based in Arlington, Va., with her brother, Joe Wootten, and father, Morgan Wootten, a DeMatha Catholic High School hall of fame coach at the Hyattsville school who spent his entire career coaching in Prince George’s County, she said.
Her book, “Team Clean,” was released in June and published by New York-based Aviva Publishing. Paul said she’s a coach selling clean.
The cleaning strategy starts with a game plan: On the same day at the same time each week, everyone — herself, her husband and their four children — gets the same chores that are listed on a chart, she said.
At the bottom of the chart, a chosen family member writes down the post-cleaning reward, which is usually the name of the restaurant the family will order from that night, she said. Next to the restaurant’s name, they list their orders.
“So the entire time they’re cleaning, they’re thinking, ‘Yes! My burrito is coming!’ By the time we’re done cleaning, dinner is basically arriving, and then we watch ‘Survivor,’” Paul said, referring to the family’s favorite weekly TV show.
With everyone doing their part, cleaning the house takes only about 20 minutes per week, she said.
Family members bond without realizing it; no one is on a phone or computer, and everyone is talking as they clean.
“Team Clean is about all these little things that make it not [only about] cleaning the house. It’s become our tradition. Each family is different. One family decided to do a bonfire every night,” she said.
So far, the book has sold 2,100 copies and is available at all major bookstores, as well as online and in e-books, Paul said.
Bucky Paul said his older brother, who lives in Washington, D.C., introduced Team Clean to his roommates.
“They’re all party animals, and they do it once a week and then sit down and eat some food,” he said. “It kind of shows you how powerful it is.”
Carol Paul said the Team Clean concept arose in 2000 after she paid a last-minute cleaning service $150 to clean her house for 40 minutes while she and her family sat around and waited.
“That’s ridiculous,” she said. “I thought, ‘That’s how we should do it, in a team.’”
Michele Cormier, 51, of Bowie lives down the street from Paul and tried the Team Clean system for the first time a couple of months ago after Paul told her about the book.
“Every mom I know feels the same way. We’re sick of nagging our families and our families are sick of being nagged,” said Cormier, who has a son in college who helps out now whenever he’s home. “Now cleaning isn’t seen as a negative thing, and it was for 20 years. It’s not me nagging anymore. It’s we do our stuff together and have fun together.”