I’m definitely not the best person to ask how to keep your home clean regularly. Because on any given day, if you come over uninvited, you’re sure to crunch a path of Cheerios on the way to the sofa. You’ll probably sit on folded (or even un-folded) laundry that may or may not be in the process of being put away. If you dare to use the bathroom while at our house (we have seven boys so far, remember?), you may or may not need to be careful that you don’t slip and fall on the wet tile floor. I don’t know why it’s wet. Honestly. I have no idea. It just is.
But I DO know HOW to clean. Cleaning is not my problem. Before children, my apartment was pristinely clean and smelled of dried eucalyptus and cloves.
But there are these boys now. Lots of boys.
And if I want any semblance of a clean home (which I thrive best in), they have to help. And they should anyway! Every family member should do their part to manage a clean home, and in a family this large, it’s the only way.
There used to be a time when I could do it all on my own. Especially when some of our boys were at school for part of the day, I could get a lot done. When more boys came along and it got a bit tougher, we hired a housekeeper to help me out twice a month.
Now we have all the boys home all day every day and NO housekeeper at all. I simply cannot do all the chores that need to get done on a daily basis. There’s just not enough time in a day, or enough of me. And even if I were to decide to do it all myself, that would feel wrong on two levels:
- I want to be doing other things like teaching my children, reading to them, and cooking food for them. I want their memory of me to be WITH them, not the back of my head as I’m always facing the kitchen sink.
- They need to know what responsibility is.
I do try to work on certain things on certain days, for instance the floors on Mondays, but I’m not good at it. I did start trying to do one or two of the boys’ laundry on each day of the week also, but I fell off of that wagon, too. Good in theory, I suppose. (Then there’s reality, right?)
But there is ONE thing that I have figured out that DOES work for our family. The big key here is consistency.
After each meal, the boys each have a chore to do. These after-meal chores always include the same things, and because the boys are so used to them, the chores usually get done fairly quickly, alleviating a LOT of work for me in the kitchen and downstairs.
After Meal Chores for Kids
Each boy does one or two of the following, depending on their age/size:
- take out trash
- clear table
- put food away
- spray and wipe table (They can use our homemade spray because it’s harmless.)
- spray and wipe chairs
- spray and wipe bench
- sweep under table
- clear off island
- pick up living room
- pick up dining room/front room
- unload dishwasher
With each boy doing at least one or two of these, all of us working together as a team, we can get dinner cleaned up in a snap. Remember, the key here is consistency, though. On mornings when I’ve been too lazy the night before to remind everyone of their chore, it’s not pretty. And when we all work together, we all enjoy the benefits of our cleaner home. After all, even our littlest kids enjoy a clean home.
50 Thing Pick-Up
One other thing that I’ve found that REALLY makes picking up the house in general a lot easier and faster is this. At least every other day I need to have everyone pick up 50 things. It’s almost a game. I simply say, “okay, everyone pick up 50 things,” and the boys know to count 50 things as they pick them up, putting them where they belong. The key here is putting the things where they belong. Throwing it onto the stairs means you get to clean off the stairs. Piling it on the island means you get to clean off the island. They learned that concept fairly quickly. (Added character building – thoroughness, diligence.) Some days it doesn’t have to be 50 (although that is our most popular number). Some days when I say 30 things or 10 things or even 5 things (rare occasion), the boys are pleasantly surprised and happy to get the lighter load. But think about it for a second. If just four of our boys are picking up 50 things, that’s 200 items that I don’t have to bend over and pick up and put away, and that’s a lot of time and energy saved for this mama. And they’re slowly learning to be better stewards of their home.
Do you have a cleaning schedule that works great for you?