I have spent years trying to create a streamlined and stress-free way to get my kids to do chores. Is it still stressful? Yeah, pretty much every day we do them. Has it gotten easier? Yes. Definitely.
We have gone through numerous different strategies over the years. The one I landed on is a color coded list that rotates between 4 weeks, weeks A, B, C, and D. It looks like this:
To make it easier for them to have everything they need in one place, I went to the dollar store and bought plastic baskets. I labeled each one with the room they correspond to: Bath up, Bath down, Family room, Living room, Stairs and Landing. The kitchen supplies stay under the kitchen sink.
I loaded each basket with every cleaning supply needed to clean each room. For example, the bathroom baskets have toilet bowl cleaner, glass cleaner, antibacterial wipes, tub cleaner, a sponge, a roll of paper towels, and rubber gloves. Yes, there are TWO bathroom baskets, with the same supplies. I found that when there two kids trying to clean two bathrooms at the same time, they fight. Same thing with the supplies for the living room and family room.
Yes, you WILL have to remind them to put the baskets away, and yes you WILL have to check all the supplies yourself to make sure they aren’t empty, because as many times as you tell them to put the empty ones on the grocery list, they won’t.
So the list is part one, the basket is part two, part three? The dreaded check list. Yes I have created an extensive check list for EVERY room. Each room, even the bathrooms, have different needs. This chore day is meant to be a thorough cleaning of the house, not just a clean up day. An example of the kitchen list is:
□ Dishes are completely washed
□ Sinks are both emptied and bleached
□ Counters are completely cleared off and cleaned. This includes cleaning under blender, bread box, knives, can opener, and behind faucet by sink
□ Stove is cleaned, including top and oven door front
□ Dishwasher is properly cleaned with stainless steel cleaner
□ Front of fridge is wiped down
□ Cabinet fronts are wiped down
□ Microwave front is cleaned and inside checked for cleaning
□ Table top is clean
□ Floor is swept and mopped
□ Cabinet separating kitchen and living room is cleared and wiped off
□ Take out garbage and recycling
Does this seem like a lot? Maybe. But here is the thing, there are SEVEN people in this house, and I don’t make this mess alone. I’m not gonna clean it alone. And because there are four of the five doing this, this breaks down to each kid cleaning each room in the house ONE time each month. And, obviously, these lists are age appropriate. My six year old does NOT do the kitchen, just cleans the kitchen table.
The thing about the check list is getting them to actually FOLLOW it, which is still a work in progress. But, they are getting better. And it’s really easy to hand them the list when it’s time to clean. And just as easy to use it when I check (and I do need to check) to see if it is done correctly. If it isn’t done, they go back in. I wouldn’t say I use a white glove to check them, but it’s close. Why I do this is I’m trying to instill a good work ethic in my kids. Right now, this is their job at home. Half of the time, if they were at a paid job for these chores, they’d be fired for poor work.
I’m trying to ready them for real life, for both future jobs and future adult life. I have heard from numerous people in their 20s that they didn’t have chores, or that their parents did everything for them. Um, no. It is my job to raise kids who can be adults who can take care of themselves. Yes, you need to know how to clean a toilet. Yes, you need to know how to do your own laundry (they start here at age 10). Yes, you need to know how to cook a meal (or twenty).
Eventually, once my kids are out on their own, they will appreciate the fact they are able to do these things on their own, even if right now they dread chore day as much as I do!