Well, we are over the hump! Here we are, on the back half of our series on Life’s Essential Ingredients. We have covered Workouts and Worship, Homeschooling, Writing 500 Words Daily, and Planning/Preparing Healthy Meals. I originally started this as a nine-part series. Only, after reading an excellent post at The Humbled Homemaker, I realized that I forgot to add cleaning to my list! I wish I didn’t have to, but there is no avoiding it: cleaning is indeed essential to a happy home and life. The trick is finding a way to make picking up and cleaning as quick and easy as possible, and many of you know what that means: routines.
6. Establish pick up/clean up times throughout the day. As much as I admire those who live according to their routines, I struggle to follow my own. Oh, I have them. I’ve written out schedule after schedule, and they are reasonable, practical, and doable, if only I would DO them! I have found that, over time, even though I am a very inconsistent person, some of the routines have stuck, and we’ve been able to incorporate some routines into our children’s lives, too. Today, I will share how we involve our children in the picking up/cleaning process.
1. Emptying the dishwasher. Each child is assigned to one or two days to unload and put away the dishes after breakfast. Obviously, my 6yo is not able to reach all of the shelves, so she unloads the dishes onto the counter and puts the silverware away. The boys are all capable of completely the entire process. The 3yo helps when she feels like it:)
2. Making the bed. Each child is supposed to make their bed in the morning when they get dressed, but for my school-attending boys who leave before their brother awakes, they often don’t make their beds until late in the day, if at all.
3. Cleaning the bathroom. My 6yo is assigned a quick-clean of the bathroom. She takes a disinfectant cloth and wipes down the sink and counter, and around the toilet. She then scrubs around the toilet bowl (with or without soap), and sweeps/cleans the mirror as needed.
4. Breakfast cleanup. My 8yo is supposed to wipe off the table and sweep up any debris after breakfast, in addition to putting away breakfast foods.
5. Pre-lunch and dinner pick up. We try to get our toys, books, and other items put away before we eat our meals.
6. Evening Routines. Our real success comes in the evening after dinner, when each child is assigned a room or area to attend to.
-Our 11yo is in charge of taking out the garbage and recycling, straightening the breezeway, and picking up the back yard.
-Our 9yo is in charge of picking up the basement (where all the toys are stored). He has to put all the toys in their proper places (or oversee the other children who took them out), sweep the floor and stairs, fold and arrange blankets and pillows nicely on the furniture, replace the TV remotes, and sort the laundry neatly into baskets.
-Our 8yo is in charge of the living room (where we house the majority of the kids’ books). Since we remodeled, there is rarely anything but a few books to put away, but he is the one who makes most of the mess in the basement with his Legos or art supplies, so he spends a good deal of time picking up in the basement for his brother.
-Our 6yo is assigned to the girls’ bedroom. She and her sister are notoriously messy with their clothes, changing them frequently and leaving them strewn about the floor. They also have several stuffed animals, books, and girly trinkets that clutter the space throughout the day.
-Our 3yo has no assigned jobs, but she is usually a willing helper to one of her siblings. She especially likes helping her big brother take out the garbage.
In addition to their designated areas, we have, in the past, posted a kitchen duties chart. The kids were divided into teams, and they would take turns each week, performing certain after dinner chores before attending to their individual jobs. Here is the list (we keep it in a clear plastic sleeve and allow the kids to mark their names next to each item with dry erase marker):
Kitchen Clean Up
1. Clear your dishes
2. Clear the table
3. Package up leftovers
4. Load the dishwasher
5. Clean the table
6. Clean the chairs
7. Sweep the floor
8. Counters etc. are cleared off
9. Clean the counters
This actually was an effective means of getting some assistance in the kitchen, but since we remodeled, I haven’t put the chart back up, and this routine has fallen to the wayside. I need to get that going again:)
7. Before Bed. The children are supposed to put away any clothes they have out, and the school boys pick out clothes for the next day.
8. Weekend jobs. On the weekends, the children have 1-1 1/2 hours of weekend jobs to perform, as well. They are an extension of their daily work, so if the children are maintaining those daily jobs successfully, they will have less to do once the weekend comes. For example, the 9yo- who works in the basement- will vacuum and dust, and do a thorough organizing of both the front and back rooms of the basement.
In addition, they are each assigned a monthly weekend package. Currently, we have a kitchen package (scrub down the table and chairs, clean the windows, wipe out the microwave, and scrub either the top or bottom cupboards), a bathroom package (scrub the counter, sink, toilet, and floor, and clean the mirror), and a miscellaneous package (clean out the van and vacuum it monthly, wipe down all the knobs and light switches with a disinfectant wipe, help fold laundry). The 6yo will sweep out the bedroom closet and straighten all the shoes, and she usually helps her brothers with their package assignments.
So, there you have it. Beds get made (most of the time), the bathroom stays reasonably clean, the garbage gets taken out, toys, clothes and books are put away, and the yard stays presentable. It’s not easy to keep these kids on task, and even after a year, they still “forget” to do their jobs and have to be reminded- repeatedly. Of course, life gets in the way, too, with baseball games, sicknesses, and other commitments, but we try to adhere to the routines as best as we can.
I’d love to hear what you are doing to get your kids involved in keeping up the home. We feel like there is definitely room for growth in this area. I have yet to teach my kids how to cook, I still make their lunches, and we haven’t quite tackled the laundry. I know they are capable of more responsibility; what should it be?
(photo credit for featured image: www.healthguidance.org)