I’ll be honest. I hate cleaning, and I’m no good at it. I can’t tell you how many different systems I’ve tried for keeping up with housework. It’s my absolute nemesis. So, with that disclaimer out there, I’m not going to give you a new “system” to try; I’m merely going to be honest about what cleaning looks like at my house.
First of all, I’m learning to include the kids in the cleaning. It’s good for them, and it’s necessary for me. If I’m ever going to keep up with it all, I’ll need help. Just do the math: three mess makers vs. me (and my husband, who does help out an awful lot when he’s home—bless him!)
The kids have what we call “morning chores” that are to be finished before school begins in the morning. In addition to having beds made and rooms picked up, they are responsible for picking up their bathroom and their eating area (similar to a breakfast nook in our kitchen). (I’ve got a list of their specific tasks further on down. Just keep reading.) I try to be pretty consistent with inspecting these chores, but I do get distracted and don’t always follow up.
The rest of the cleaning is in the moment. If I clean, I’ll call for my helpers and divvy up the responsibilities. My mantra is: we’re a family, a team. We make messes together, so we clean them together. There is no “his mess”/”her mess.” I don’t care who’s stuff it is or who made the mess; we’re family, and we work together. We’re still working on this, and I still get complaints about one child picking up after the other. But honestly, they are catching on, and many times will pick up someone else’s mess without being told.
And I do reference my work when my kids complain. I think it’s being honest with them. Does Mommy do dishes and laundry all the time because she likes to? Of course not. Mommy does them because she loves you!
Often, the cleaning gets caught up in a once a week family frenzy cleaning, either on Dad’s day off (Tuesday) or on Sunday afternoons before our company comes. (Nearly every Sunday evening, we’ll have some of the families from our church into our home for a meal. That definitely helps me stay accountable to at least some of the cleaning.)
Here’s our breakdown of chores:
Oldest (age 7): sweeps kitchen floor; will sometimes mop; wipes his bathroom sink and counter; hangs up the bathroom towels; folds his laundry and helps fold Littlest’s laundry; helps with bathroom cleaning, vacuuming, or dusting; also helps make toast and sandwiches
Middlest (age 5): wipes down tables and Littlest’s high chair; will sometimes sweep or mop; wipes her bathroom sink and counter; folds her laundry and helps fold towels; helps with dusting
Littlest (age nearly 2): helps sweep with his small broom and dust pan; helps wipe and dry messes; helps load laundry into the washer and dryer (he “helps” in a lot of other areas that aren’t much help, but we won’t mention those here)
And when cleaning feels like utter chaos, I read from my friend at Vitafamiliae and take comfort in the fact that I’m not the only one.