Are you naturally neat? Is your living room company-ready any time the doorbell rings? Do you sleep more soundly when all your dishes are washed before bed?
I’ve known people who could easily say yes to each of these questions. I’ve been in their houses.
I am not one of them.
After I got married but before we had kids, I lost a 12-pack of toilet paper. I couldn’t figure out where on earth that thing had gone . . . it’s not like losing a watch or a pair of fingernail clippers.
I finally found it two weeks later . . . when I folded the pile of laundry on my couch. Yeah.
Add in three boys, homeschooling, a part-time work-at-home job, activities at church, and I have an even harder time maintaining an appearance of neatness around here. When I wrote about Mom’s Influence last month, I mentioned that my own efforts toward housekeeping have a direct effect on whether the rest of my family pitches in to do their share.
(For example, when I’m sick and don’t do any cleaning for a few days, the house becomes an indoor landfill. I cringe to think what would happen if these menfolk were truly left without me for some reason . . .)
Knowing that, I determined a little over a year ago that I would buckle down and do better with this housekeeping thing!
My house still doesn’t look like Better Homes & Gardens, but I can open the door to an unexpected guest without apologizing on most days now. How’d I do it? Lists and schedules.
First, I made a list of every chore that I want to have done each day. This includes things like:
- Sweep Kitchen (morning & evening)
- Vacuum Living Room
- Unload/Reload Dishwasher
- Hand Wash Pots/Pans
- Put Away Toys/Books
On a second list, I wrote chores I wanted done weekly:
- Mop Kitchen
- Clean Toilets
- Clean Bathroom Sinks
- Change Sheets
And finally, on a third list, I wrote out the things that I wanted done monthly or less often. Among other things, this includes:
- Vacuum Under the Couch Cushions
- Clean Refrigerator/Freezer Shelves
- Steam Clean Carpets
- Declutter Bathroom Cabinets
You get the idea . . . of course, your lists may look drastically different from mine depending on your home and your family’s needs.
With these three lists complete, I made six schedules – one for every day of the week. (We rest on Sunday and do only the basic chores like loading the dishwasher . . . and sometimes we don’t even do that. :-))
On these daily schedules, I divided the daily and weekly chores up between the five members of our family, assigning age-appropriate tasks to each person. For example, four-year-old Robert is supposed to empty the bathroom trashcans once a week, pick up his bedroom floor every other day, and pick up the dirty towels out of the bathroom floor twice a week. (Notice I say, “supposed to.”) Eight-year-old James is scheduled to unload the dishwasher only once a week, while 11-year-old Nick does it three times a week.
Each person is slated to take care of at least two chores each day. Being the mom (sigh), I have the most chores on most days. Since my husband, Jon, works at an outside job, he usually has the least number of household jobs (besides Robert). Otherwise, I tried to keep things relatively balanced.
I also scheduled things for morning or evening. Since I want the kitchen floor swept twice a day, one person is scheduled for the morning and someone else for the evening.
On each daily schedule, I’ve typed each person’s name with their chores for the day (and each person’s name & chores are highlighted in the same color each day). Beside each chore is a check box so that we can mark things off as they get done.
I keep the schedule pages in a plastic sheet protector, which is taped to a closet door in our hallway. It’s very visible to everyone throughout the day (so no one has any excuse!) I also have a dry-erase marker hanging from a string that I taped to the door. That way, we can easily mark off each chore as we do it.
Now I’ll admit right now that our chore schedule is not 100% check marked at the end of each day. Sometimes it is, and I’m very happy on those days. Everything seems more peaceful when the house is neatly kept. 🙂
When we don’t complete all the chores, though, I don’t stress. I just change the sheet to the next day and we begin again. Just pick up where we left off and move on. Simple as that . . . stressing out never helped anything.
For the monthly and less often chores, I made up 12 calendar pages and plotted out the tasks. Most of those tasks fall to me, but it helps tremendously for me to see them in writing. Like the daily schedules, I keep all 12 of these pages in a plastic sheet protector taped to the closet door.
We’ve been using this system for a little over a year now, and it’s working quite well for us. We’re certainly not museum-quality, but things stay much neater than they did when I was flying by the seat of my pants. However . . .
Lest you think all my talk of chore charts makes me a perfectly polished housekeeper, here’s a picture of my living room right now.
We spent most of today away from the house but have been here long enough to mess things up and play some Mario Kart. (Anyone else still playing Super Nintendo?) Not many of those check boxes are marked today . . . oh well, there’s always tomorrow! 🙂