I have a big house. I also have three kids. I could easily spend every moment of every day cleaning my house. I don’t particularly think that sounds fun. As a matter of fact, I rather dislike cleaning. A few years ago I came up with a solution that also teaches my kids some responsibility.
I divided up our downstairs into three areas: kitchen, family room, dining room/breakfast area.
Then each child was assigned one of those areas for a week. At the end of the day their area is supposed to be clean, I’ll go into more detail on that in just a moment. I’ll admit some areas are harder than others, but at the end of the week we rotate to a new area. So no one person has an unfair share of the chores for too long.
Cleaning the Kitchen
I started this when Princess was 7. At that point all of my kids were familiar with loading and unloading the dishwasher, and knew how to sweep and mop. Our kitchen is easily the hardest area to be in. We have five people in our family, four of whom are home for most meals, so we produce a lot of dishes. We also get our counters dirty ALL THE TIME.
Here is what I expect:
- Counters cleaned and wiped down. Extraneous items on the counter put away properly
- Dishes loaded and unloaded in the dishwasher. By the end of the day, the sink should be empty.
- Floor swept at least a couple of times a week, more often in dirty seasons (spring and fall)
- Floor mopped once a week
- Once you turn 10, you are also responsible for hand-washing pots and pans, as well as any dishes that are hand-washed. For this, they receive an extra 50 cents allowance that week.
Cleaning the Family Room
This is the second most difficult area. We are in our family room all the time, and I’ll confess we eat our meals there most of the time because it’s the only time we really watch TV.
Here is what I expect:
- Couch cleared off of everything
- Dishes left in the family room put in the dishwasher, if the dishwasher is running put them in the sink
- Floor cleared off. This is important because my boys like to play with Legos and their figures on the floor here.
- Vacuum the floor. The main carpet area is a rather old and stained carpet. Every now and then Jeff threatens to get rid of the thing, but then he realizes how much mess the kids make, and they’d just ruin the new carpet.
- Sweep the area around the carpet as needed
- Once a week mop the tile floor. I’ll be honest this gets skipped more than I want to admit.
Cleaning the Dining Room
I’ll admit our dining room is mainly used for playing games and eating with friends who come over. Because it’s relatively clean, I’ve added in what was the breakfast nook, but has become the game area of our kitchen. That part can easily become a cesspool because our family has a bad habit of just dumping stuff in that room.
Here is what I expect in this room:
- Dining room table cleared off
- Nothing on the cordenza
- Games put away properly
- Cubbies cleared off on top
- floor empty in game area
- Area swept as needed
- Once a week mop the floor
About a year ago I added a new feature: cleaning a bathroom
Of all the chores I dislike, cleaning bathrooms is top of the list. I detest it. So, a year or so ago I set the kids to cleaning bathrooms. The first several weeks I cleaned the bathroom next to them, and now they do it all on their own, I just check it afterwards.
To make this easier, I have set up a few things:
- Each bathroom has its own complete set of cleaning supplies.
- Each bathroom has a small trash can that is easily emptied.
- Each bathroom has somewhere to store toilet paper.
What does a clean bathroom mean?
- inside and outside of toilet is cleaned (ewwwww)
- sink is clean
- trash can is emptied
- nothing on the floor
- TOILET PAPER ON THE DISPENSER (this one is super important)
At the end of the week they have me come and check their bathroom out, and I either say “Good job, go take a shower,” or “You need to fix X, Y, and Z.”
I’ve been working recently towards the kids getting their room clean every day, or at least “I can walk through your room without stepping on Legos” clean each day, and “Mommy level” clean at the end of the week (but, I’ll be honest I rarely get mine clean, so I’m not going to freak out too much, just so long as it’s not smelly).
What happens if their area isn’t clean?
Their allowance is docked. Each week the kids are paid for their work, part goes into giving and part goes into savings. We only dock a maximum of $1, but it’s a big deal when your allowance is less than $5 a week.
More ideas for teaching responsibility at: Teaching Responsibility, practical tips from experienced homeschoolers.