Although it's fine at sucking up dirt, finding its way around the room and returning to its charging station, its real achievement is in not only getting the children to clean up their toys first but also tiring them out before bed.
This works with three magic phrases:
- "Roomba's coming out tonight. Clean up your toys or Roomba will eat them!"
- "If you can clean them up fast you can stay up to watch Roomba!"
- "Here goes Roomba. Don't let him touch you!"
The uttering of these three sentences results in the perfect end to an evening. The kids scurry around and pick up every last toy (it's the tiniest Lego pieces that get eaten the fastest), then race around the room jumping over Roomba as it drives from wall to wall, randomly changing direction just often enough to make the game fun. (We've told them that if Roomba runs into them it will think that they're a wall and not clean there, which may or may not be true.) Then, after 15 minutes of this, they're bored and ready for bed.
I love the thought that our children are growing up used to having
domestic robots in the house. Robots for them are slightly dim but friendly vacuum cleaners,
not fearsome weapons or fantasy toys. "Robot love me," declares the two-year-old.