Our family's cleaning and chore schedules have varied widely over the years. In two short years we have gone from having one teenager in the home to having two teenagers and two toddlers. In the past I have tended to do much of the housework myself, with help off and on from my teenage daughter. Our cleaning schedule was very different then. We got away with vacuuming once or twice a week and didn't even do the dishes every day.
Our lifestyle changed dramatically when I was pregnant with our twins. It got to the point I could do no housework at all. At the time my daughter was 17 years old, attending community college, and working at a part time job. I was not requiring her to do much housework because of her busy schedule. While I was pregnant we both decided she would quit her job and work for me instead, doing housework, cooking dinner, and doing grocery shopping for me. This arrangement worked very well for us and I enjoyed the extra time we got to spend together. She was able to easily find a new part time job after her brothers were born and I started doing more housework again.
After the birth of our twins my teenage step-daughter moved in with us. It wasn't until the boys began to crawl and then walk that the housework became totally unmanageable and I had to admit I couldn't do it all on my own. That is when we started our daily "chore chart".
First I wrote down the chores with which I needed the most help:
- Dishes, clean kitchen
- Pick up and vacuum living room and dining room
- Take out kitchen garbage
- Mop kitchen floor
- Clean litter box
- Do a load of laundry
- Take out all garbages
- Put garbage can up on street
- Clean bedroom
- Clean kids' bathroom
This cleaning schedule has worked very well for us. I choose to cook dinner every evening because I enjoy it. Between cooking, feeding the boys, and getting them ready for bed, that is about all I have time for in an evening. Having the girls do the other chores is a huge help.
When I created the schedule, I did keep in mind the girls' outside activities. For instance, if I know one of the girls has an activity one night I won't have her do the dishes that night. I have set up a schedule where each night one daughter picks up and vacuums and the other daughter does the dishes. Those are the two biggest chores. Then they usually have one other small chore. Most nights their chores take 20 minutes or less, but save me at least an hour of extra work. On Saturdays they clean their bedrooms, and take turns cleaning their bathroom.
We haven't had any problems getting the girls to do their chores. First of all, they can't go anywhere until their chores are done. If they still choose not to do their chores they will not get their allowance. Although one daughter also has a part time job we also decided to give her a small allowance for doing household chores because she spends so much of the rest of her time doing homework and working at her other job. We wanted to give her a small incentive and to let her know her help is appreciated.
We keep track of chores on a dry erase board that has a calendar pre-printed on it. Every month I write in the days for the new month and write in the girls' chores for every day. There is no confusion as to who has what chores.
You can adjust your chore charts to suit your needs. You may not need your living room vacuumed every day like we do. Chores can be varied according to how many children you have and their ages.
Rachel Paxton is a freelance writer and mom who is the author of What's for Dinner?, an e-cookbook containing more than 250 quick easy dinner ideas. For more recipes, organizing tips, home decorating, crafts, holiday hints, and more, visit Creative Homemaking at http://www.creativehomemaking.com.