Your house can be cleaner than ever, because homemaking is an important life skill, a valid school subject, and working side-by-side with you, your kids can learn to be pros! In my case, Mother is the worst problem . . . my clutter, my lack of follow-through. My kids know how to clean, and as long as I check their chore charts, the jobs get done.
How does a overworked mom get a hold of her house?
First, make a list of all the jobs that have to be done to maintain the level of cleanliness that you are comfortable with. (This will be different for each mother, because some like a more relaxed environment than others.) Divide the jobs into the frequency that they need to be done.
Write this on a paper:
(or Weekly, if you do chores on another day)
Now brainstorm and make a list under each heading. Here’s mine:
Sweep dining and kitchen and spot clean floors
Take all garbage out
Sort laundry into each person’s bins
Fold and put away family laundry (towels, sheets, etc.)
Quick clean of blue bathroom
Quick clean of yellow bathroom
Quick clean of downstairs bathroom
Clean/declutter living room
Clean/declutter dining room
Clean/declutter family room
Clean/declutter school room
Keep phone counter cleared off
Put away food
Unload and load dishwasher
Wipe off counters
Deep clean bathrooms (tub, mirrors, mop)
Mop all wood floors
Vaccum all carpeted floors
Clean stove top
Now, let the fun begin! Announce to the family that each one will get a chance to pick out the chores they’ll be doing. Go around the family one by one and let each child pick a number out of a hat to see what order they will get to choose them. Start with the child that picked #1, and let him select his favorite daily job. Keep going around, in number order, until the daily jobs are gone. (It doesn’t matter if someone got more than the next person.)When there is complaining, reinforce how fair it is, and how these chores aren’t permanent but will change in time.
Move on to the mealtime jobs, and then the Saturday jobs. Give everyone as much free choice in the job selection as possible, overseeing to make sure it is fair and no one takes on too much or gets all the easy jobs. If your children spand a wide age range, you might mark the easy jobs with a star and only allow those to be selected by the younger children. Make this process as happy and playful as possible.
When the choosing is finished, make a chart for each child of his jobs. I put a week’s worth of check-off boxes next to each chore and slip these charts into a page protector so the children check off each task with a wipe-off marker. Here is one of my children’s chore charts:
If you haven’t taught your children how to house-keep, you have some rigorous training to do. It helps to tape a detailed step-by-step how-to chart up inside a cabinet door in the room that explains just what to do. Young ones will need a simple picture chart so they can follow illustrated directions.
If you have older children, your workload is going to be hugely reduced once they can do their part to maintain a clean house. Little ones (and big ones until they are trained) need mother to work side-by-side with them until they are competent. Or you can give them an older sibling (that has been trained), the job to partner up with to teach a younger one. Don’t underestimate young children and cleaning ability, though. For one thing, the younger ones have the greatest enthusiasm for chores! Even a 3-year-old can do a pretty good job of cleaning a sink. Even if your family is mostly just young, housekeeping training is essential. And even if you end up working side-by-side with each child to train him, the truth is that you are getting more help than you had before!
Obviously, the more children you have, the less each one has to do. If you have a big house, it will get less dirty as it will have less occupancy per square foot, so some jobs may be reduced to twice a week, instead of daily. If you have a small house, it gets dirtier, so something like sweeping a heavily trafficked area might need to be done in the morning and after dinner.
Mom and Dad take on the jobs that the children can’t yet do, such as grocery shopping, changing the oil in the car, household repairs, baking bread, etc. Because Dad is earning a living and Mom is teaching school and caring for children, I feel as parents we are already doing our part. The kids need the skills, and the chance to contribute to the family, so they do the majority of the house upkeep.
As well as household chores, I expect the children to wash dishes, gather and put away their possessions, take care of their own rooms, do their own laundry, and eventually take on a Dinner Night.
Doing Dinner Night at my house means deciding what to make, thawing frozen foods ahead of time, checking that we have all the ingredients, and preparing the whole dinner. They get to choose whatever they want to eat as long as it follows our Balanced Meal chart that I have posted in my kitchen. Young ones need lots of mom-help to make a meal, but by about 11-years-old, they can cook dinner all by themselves—something they find very gratifying. They enjoy everyone’s compliments and the praise for making a good meal! And they love the freedom to choose what to eat. I love what it does for them by way of training. My kids will never go hungry for lack of know-how!
Once you get the kids’ chore charts up and posted, it is just up to us, Mom, to check them after morning chore time, and in the evening before dinner. Being consistent is the biggest factor in our success. If we can discipline ourselves to check and follow-up on the children’s chores, the whole family will soon be enjoying a much cleaner house. And the children will be more self-reliant, more responsible, and more capable!
A-h-h-h, this feels good!