Wednesday, February 27, 2013


I was raised to clean. I am convinced my mom had 6 kids so she could have 6 slaves. And she worked us hard. There was rarely a Saturday that wasn't designated as the day to clean the house from top to bottom. Besides teaching us to clean, she taught us how to do it well. I can clean a bathroom in 3 minutes flat. Thanks Mom.

Because I cannot deviate from tradition, I make my people clean every Saturday too. And they do a good job of it. Here's how:

1. Be painfully, irritatingly consistent. Every Saturday morning, they have to know that is just what is done. Cleaning and Saturday have to be synonymous. At first, the habit can be tricky to develop, but after about a month, you should be good to go.

2. Nothing gets to happen until the house is spotless. No TV or friends until every Goldfish cracker is vacuumed up, every piece of Lego is banished to it's box and every toothpaste smear is wiped from every counter. Once again, consistency is crucial. Sometimes, there is a reward after jobs are done. Like going out to lunch or watching a movie together.

3. Take a few weeks to teach them how you want certain things cleaned. Like the bathroom. It took a good 2 months of hovering over Jack to get him to clean the bathroom properly. Now, he is a master. I actually hate having to teach my kids anything (homeschool=never), so this was hellish for me. But it paid off. A good tip: write down or print off exactly how you want the bathroom cleaned, step by step. I think our list has 7 steps. I printed it off, laminated it and taped it into the bathroom cupboard. Now, he has no excuse to not do an excellent job.

So what does out typical Saturday look like? Here is an example list:

Mom (and Dad if he is home):
Dust and Windex living room
Windex windows
Wipe down kitchen appliances
Sweep and mop kitchen
Clean my bathroom
Vacuum upstairs
Water plants

Empty all bathroom trash
Organize toys under bed
Clean upstairs bathroom
Clean downstairs bathroom
Put away all toys from downstairs
Organize shoes buckets
Clean out garbage from the cars

Organize toys under bed
Vacuum downstairs (he sees this as more fun than a chore, for now)
Wipe stairs handrail, all doorknobs and light switches
Wipe baseboards in the whole house

Be cute (this is literally her Saturday job each week until I start her on Van's jobs someday. But as it is now, she wants to follow us and do what we do. So she usually walks around the house and arbitrarily wipes things with a damp rag.)

Do my kids get paid allowance for working? Of course not.

"Service is the price we pay for the space we occupy". 

You live in my house, you work in my house. A few weeks ago, Jack asked me on the way home from school, "Mom, why do you make us clean the house? We are just kids!" I tried not to laugh in his face. I calmly replied, "How will you ever find a wife if you can't clean a toilet? And is it really fair that I would have to clean everything? No, of course not. And just wait, soon, you will be mopping the kitchen instead of me doing it."

Any tips or tricks you can add? How do you get your people to clean? 


  1. Thank you, Whitney. I guess I did something right.

  2. I do same as you my friend. Same as you. Allowance for basic chores? No deal. A dollar if you watch your baby sister so I can take a nap? Ya, maybe. Bah! But seriously.

  3. I do the same thing but my kids fight over who does what chore so we have to trade off. and during the week there is recycling they take out and dishwashers to be unloaded. and no way will I pay them to contribute to cleaning. they made most of the mess, i'm not gonna pay them to clean up what they made. of course there was fighting at first but now, they jump when i say chores. i hate all the bribery charts.

  4. I always have fun music blasting during the two hours we clean Saturday. It helps my girls tons. I just started teaching them bathrooms last week. I want to know the seven steps!

  5. I LOVE this! I have a hard time knowing how old to start to teach the kids to clean though.

  6. "Why do you make me clean! It's so hard! So-and-So doesn't have to do chores."

    "Well, So-and-So's mother must not love them as much as I love you."

  7. p.s. We were not good after a month. We have to fight the battle every week. But it's worth it.

  8. The only chores I've been consistent with is Jace takes out the trash every day, puts the cans next to the curb on thursadys and puts them back on the side of the house on fridays. BUT thats all about to change! I loved this post. I'm about to get some order in this home. Thank you.
    ohhh...I also have dinner chores.. I make Dinner, Em sets the table, Jace clears the table, Tommy does the dishes, and V looks adorable. This is Mon-Thurs since I don't cook on Friday and Saturday. :)

  9. a list for them to check off as they go. i spent many a saturday yelling my head off, until one week i handed them a cute little list. and they went and cleaned until their cute little lists were done.


    sweet little turds.