Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Answer time - CHORES

Monday I told you how we deal with the huge amount of laundry, here at the Troops.

Here are the daily piles on the fireplace that I told you about.

Here is Daughter (#7), who is 3, putting her pile away.

Today, I'm sitting here in my less-than-clean house, with 11 kids running around (not all mine, of course), wondering why in the world I am answering questions about kids doing chores.

What kids?

What chores?

Aren't we just hanging out, making messes and having fun?

Yeah, you're right. This won't last forever. So. . .

I have three ways that we keep our house in order.

1. Room list.

Each room has a sheet with a column for each occupant and their morning and evening jobs to keep that room and themselves in order. I edit these at the beginning of each school year.

This includes things like: getting dressed, making beds, picking up toys, brushing teeth, washing face, putting laundry away, brushing hair, etc.

All of the kids do their own jobs, sometimes with myself or Daughter (#2) helping the three year old.

2. Kitchen list.

This sheet has seven columns, one for each day. We have six different jobs (Daughter #2 and Daughter #7 are teamed up for this). Clear table, wash table, sweep dining room. Unload dishwasher, wash dishes, sweep kitchen. They rotate each day, so that they only do each job once or twice in a week.

Note: Keep things simple. We have a Swivel Sweeper for the floors, the dishes are not fragile and the list is posted so the older readers can check their job in the morning and know what to expect for the day. During the Summer they do these jobs all three meals. During school it's just for dinnertime.

3. House Helpers.

My older six go to school all day every day, so when they ARE home, I want them to play outside, ride bikes, read and enjoy being kids. When we do have company coming, or things just need to be put in order, we have a family meeting. During the Summer we've done this once a week.

I make a list of what needs to be done that day: Dusting, vacuuming, glass and mirrors, kitchen floor, bathrooms, spot clean the carpet, sweep porch and deck, weed flower beds - whatever. Then I let the kids pick what they would like to work on. Usually they all have something they want to do. Our oldest does all of the mowing and yard work, so sometimes he is already occupied. If someone is being difficult and doesn't choose something, I assign them a job.

If the bathrooms need extra attention, I take that job. Otherwise the kids use Clorox cleaning wipes to get them in shape. All of the other jobs the kids are able to do themselves. The vacuum can be shortened for the younger ones. I buy Swiffer dusters and foam glass cleaner. We also have a Swiffer wet jet mop for them to do the kitchen floor. Obviously it needs a good mopping sometimes, but I can do that every now and then.

Using these three tools, our house stays in fairly good shape.

Some of you asked about jobs for children under 7. My three little girls (6, 5 and 3) do all of the same jobs the older ones do, they just need more help. Think about it like you are investing in the future. Training little helpers for years to come. Because you are! They especially like to dust and clean glass. They need more supervision, of course.

I recently read "Jumping Ship" by Michael Pearl. One thing he talks about is that being a perfectionist makes you a poor parent. You are better off letting your kids help than having things done perfectly. By you.

As a recovering perfectionist, I am telling myself the same thing.
Let your kids be part of the working order of your home. Let them know that they are needed. That they do a great job. That things look SO nice when they clean/pick-up/help around the house. And it's a lot more fun with music on to sing and dance to!

If you are interested in seeing my chore charts, I'd be happy to e-mail them to you. Just send me a note at

Happy Cleaning!


Jen S said...

Great post! I like the advice for the recovering perfectionist. . . which I guess I am as well. I would have happily stayed a perfectionist (ha!) but was forced into recovery after birth of child three. I can't even imagine what six would have done for me! I like your tips!! Thanks for sharing.

Lori Leigh said...

Thank you! Very helpful post! I am really not that organized on my house chores yet. I'll work on that once we get to Texas. I like the Clorax wipe suggestion also. I have been letting my oldest use the Windex but he always seems to use about half the bottle. And they're not giving Windex away these days! Thanks so much for this post. I would LOVE to have a copy of your charts!

Jo said...

YEA!!! AT LAST!!!! I CAN OFFICIALLY begin our school year now. Of course my chore lists need to be re-done. I love the Chlorox cleaning wipes idea. And I love the Family meeting concept because lets just face it - some weeks we don't need to kill each other over the house:).

Thanks so much for the huge investment of time and typing and pictures.....very cute pictures on our behalf.

Corrie said...

:-) They've always loved the dusting and window cleaning part, haven't they?

Miss you guys!