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Keeping it clean

What is worse than cleaning the house?

Cleaning the house by yourself.

What is worse than doing laundry?

Doing the laundry by yourself.


If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself, right? Wrong!


This is a lie that I used to tell myself and it stressed me out. I did all the cleaning, all the organizing, all the dishes, all the kids’ activities, and got all the guilt when it wasn’t perfect. The result of me doing everything was debilitating headaches every night and never wanting to spend time with the kids because I was so tired. I knew something had to change so we started to make a few tweaks.


We started small. I announced to the family that I was only going to wash clothes that ended up in the hamper; I was no longer going to go hunting for clothes to wash. The kids also all got a job to do that changed weekly. For example, load the dishwasher, unload the dishwasher, sweep the floor, take out the trash. This helped some but I knew we could do better. The problem was that changing weekly meant that no one did their job very throughly on Saturday night because on Sunday it wasn’t going to be their job anymore and the kids doing the dishwasher frequently fought with each other (“Not yet!” “Hurry up!”)


Next we went to room responsibility and upped the timing to one month. Everyone was going to be responsible for one room in the house and do everything that needed done in that room. Some problems we faced: not everyone could physically clean the kitchen and not everyone could be trusted to do the laundry just yet. The kitchen was also the biggest room and requires the most work and it was hard for that person to get it done without help. All this meant that a few people kept getting the same job over and over and morale was low.


What is working now: we still have a room responsibility but now we have it for six months, mom rotates around helping the kids, we divided the kitchen up, and we have a reward system. What a difference it all makes! I now have time to spend with the people I love most and have a lot less stress and headaches in my life.


What that looks like right now (it will change in July): I have the bathroom and my husband has the living room. Boy(15) does all the dishes in the kitchen or dining room (they are essentially the same room), girl(12) has the kitchen/dining room surfaces, girl(9) has the laundry room, boy(7) has the storage room, and girl(3) has her toys to pick up. From seven to eight every night but Friday is clean up time. Everyone that does their job gets a point. When you have a hundred points (earned several different ways) then you get a treat from the store like your own pack of cookies or a pint of ice cream or a 2 liter of soda. After I have the bathroom clean I help the kids. On Monday I help boy(15), on Tuesday I help girl (12) and so on. I ask the kids how I can help them because they are in charge. If they don’t have a specific job for me I do some deep cleaning in that room. Also, and this is the thing that has made all the difference, when someone asks where their white shirt is I direct them to girl(9) and when someone can’t find a particular cup I direct them to boy(15). Having that mental break is awesome and it reinforces to the kids that they are in charge.



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