Like so many moms, Miranda Crimbring has struggled to understand why she is the only one in her household capable of depositing trash in actual trash cans and laundry inside the hampers instead of just outside of them on the floor.
"I’ve literally watched one of my kids drop a macaroni noodle and then step over it like it was in her way or something," the Austin, Texas, mom of three, ages 1, 7 and 16, told TODAY Parents.
One evening, Crimbring walked into a mess in one their bathrooms, and an idea came to her. "I thought, 'Let’s see what happens when I tape some money to the back of some trash and leave it there,'" she said. "Maybe this will put a little pep in their pick-up."
Crimbring folded a $5 bill and taped it to the back of a piece of paper and left it on the bathroom floor, then took a picture and posted it to her Facebook feed.
"While trying to prove a point to my kids, we’ve just surpassed the 48-hour mark of the 'who will pick up the random piece of trash that they KNOW isn’t supposed to be there' challenge," Crimbring wrote in the caption. "Between the kids AND the husband, and MULTIPLE trips in and out of the bathroom, this little piece of heaven may just be in it for the long haul!"
She was "truly blown away" when her post went viral — it has been shared almost 300,000 times in just three days. "I’m just your average mom, doing the best she can to raise her kids and take care of her family," Crimbring said. "This was something so simple, silly and lighthearted that I really didn’t give it much thought at first. But when the numbers kept rising, it was overwhelming — but in all the best ways."
When the post started receiving attention, Crimbring gave in and alerted her husband to what she had done. "His first response was, 'Man, I KNEW I should have picked it up!'" she said. "Later, he said something like, 'But, you know, Honey, I left it there on purpose, because I knew you were trying to prove a point to the kids.'
"Hysterical and sad all at the same time!" she noted.
Four days after she left the trash on the floor, Crimbring's 7-year-old daughter finally found the money after she had thrown her clothes on top of the trash when she was getting into the bathtub. When she went to grab the clothes afterward, the trash flipped over, money side up.
"She let out a gasp and shrieked in surprise, saying, 'Oh, my gosh, this was under there ... five dollars!'" Crimbring said. "The kicker: She removed the cash from the paper and left the paper sitting on the counter. Yep, we all had a nice long family discussion afterward."
Crimbring said she added a hashtag urging her family to "just do the right thing," because this kind of effort is something she talks to them about often, and she was hoping this "experiment" would be positive reinforcement.
"Just do the right thing, and good things will follow," she said. "No, this won’t always be in the form of a five-dollar bill. I know that. But, I also know that good things can come in many forms, and I wanted my kids to understand the value of doing things the right way.
"Plus, let’s be real. No mom wants to constantly pick up after their families," she added. "We’ve got enough on our plates."
And though Crimbring could interpret the challenge to her family as a fail, she said she counts it as a "major win" instead. "I love my family, and I am tickled that we’ll have this experience to look back on," she said.
"It put a little laughter into a situation that normally wears us moms down, so for that, I’m just super grateful for the opportunity to share that with others."