Cleaning as a Family
Imagine living in a home with daily and weekly habits that create an atmosphere of order and peace. The best way to accomplish this successfully is to involve everyone who in living in a household. Whether you are in a home with a mom and dad or single parent family, these ideas of personal and family contributions work. Divide the work into daily and weekly times. Success comes when the expectations are clear and specific. Focus on operating like a team when cleaning the house together.
Some parents express that children should not be responsible for housework. I do not hold to this theory. Here are some questions to ask yourself when deciding about cleaning responsibilities as they relate to your children. Were you ready to independently take on cleaning responsibilities once you left your parents’ home? Were you ready to care for your living space when you moved out on your own? If so, how did you mature in those skills? If not, what did you have to learn as an adult? Were you prepared to clean and cook? Did you already practice routines that led to rhythms of making your home?
I propose that each child should be raised to do all skills needed for adult life. Some of this preparation requires maintaining your space and completing the work listed above. Children are capable of contributing to the family. Expect them to help for the benefit of the rest of the family. This section includes an age-appropriate contribution list.
This enables proper expectations. Most are surprised to read over this list and discover what their child is capable of at their age. Just for clarification, I resist using the word “chore” which conjures up an inaudible sigh. Instead, we select “contribution” which promotes teamwork. I contend that young ones who buy into this notion of playing team with the family will also think about marriage like a team.
“Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser;
teach a righteous man,
and he will increase in learning.”
Proverbs 9:9 ESV
(First thing EVERY morning before breakfast)
Note: Giving each child an alarm clock helps with this process.
Spiritual time to read the Bible, journal and pray
Note: Distribute these tasks appropriately between children based on age and ability. Rotate these jobs each season. We rotate jobs in January, June and August. Initiate the “Expect and Inspect” concept so that your children will learn to do the job correctly, and you will not be overly frustrated. This means that you have to focus on teaching the contribution to each child during this time. Don’t just assign it and go off to take care of something on your list. In fact, expect to follow each child with your hands behind your back directing the steps of the job. This is time consuming for awhile. Don’t expect perfection. Expect it won’t be done perfectly. Be okay to live with imperfection. It will get better and in time, and they will be an asset to you and not add more work to your workload.
Wipe down all kitchen counters
Pets - Fresh water, food, brush, pet, kiss and snuggle. (Yes, that is what I said. Those fur babies are just ready for love.)
Sweep or vacuum floors (This usually means main living spaces such as kitchen, breakfast area and living room. The focus here is daily maintenance of high traffic areas.)
Mom’s helper (check rooms, bathrooms, runner)
A runner is someone that puts things away in the correct location. Select this person carefully. If your child has ADHD, the distractibility will drive you crazy. My best runner was my youngest boy for years. He never got “lost.” Moms, you know what I mean. Have you ever handed an item to a child to deliver to a location only to have them come back and ask you where the item in their hand was supposed to go? You can’t make this stuff up.
List each family member and an age-appropriate list for them. This will change twice a year as each child masters new skills and moves on to new ones. If they know they will keep chores they don’t master, it might encourage them to complete them correctly.
Outside of contributions, select some jobs which allow your child to earn money. Remember your child will grow to be an adult. Many of their habits as adults will result from money patterns they learn as they develop. Developing a strong work ethic is key to success. Remember that these bonus jobs need to be taught and checked too. Each family needs to sort out what is a contribution and what needs to be earned. Don’t pay your child more for a bonus job than others might. This creates unrealistic expectations. One girl that I knew would ride the riding lawn mower for two acres. She did not weed eat or blow. She was paid $200 each time she completed this activity. Most people will not replicate this experience. She may be frustrated when someone later wants to pay her the standard amount. These may also be the kids who do gain work experience as teens.
Bonus Job Ideas
Babysit - earnings depending on the number of kids and the length of time
Pet sit - varies
Wash a vehicle - inside and outside
Organize a garage, or shed or closet
Mother’s helper - Help a mom with small children. Assist with the children and do any jobs that she needs to have done. The mom is typically home when you are helping. Sometimes she might want you to watch the children while she cleans house.
Spring cleaning jobs such as washing all the garbage cans, washing bedding, cleaning windows
Weeding in beds
Personalize the personal and family contribution lists according to your family’s needs, and its members. Distribute responsibilities onto Mom and Dad’s list as you sort out the kids. If the family is headed by a single parent or a grandparent, sort out the daily and weekly responsibilities with the full schedule in mind. Delegate the work. Organize a group meeting with pizza or a favorite food. Consider re-sorting as each season begins. We rework as the schedule changes in January, June and August. A family working together is strong. Everyone privileged to live in a home should contribute to the work needed to maintain the space.
Don’t miss out on the joy of maintaining routines that establish a happy rhythm to your family life. Living in an orderly space creates a more peaceful life. The work should not fall on one person, but be fairly shared by those who benefit from the home.
For more ideas about HOME, order Hum of the Home. This book is full of ideas on establishing these routines and rhythms and routines in cleaning, cooking which lead to living your best life.