Kids and Housework
Written by Pamm Clark

Getting the kids to help doesn't happen overnight. You also can't wait until you think they are old enough to help and do a good job, then start. By then, it's too late. Helping and learning to work is something that takes a lifetime to learn. It took me a whole year to get our son to take out the trash without a fuss ("My legs hurt!" ~Meanwhile he's running around the yard and climbing on everything! LOL).

Housework seems overwhelming to children. I've found breaking down the job helps a lot. We've tried many things. First, instead of saying, "clean your room," say, "Pick up the books," then "Pick up the blocks," etc. This breaks down the job into bite sizes that the children can handle (works great for adults, too).

Use a timer or a clock for cleaning up. "If everyone can pick up in two mintues, then we can go outside and play."

Clean by the hour: Eight o'clock--pick up toys; Nine o'clock--change sheets on your bed; Ten o'clock--vacuum; etc. ~or~ Eight o'clock--clean the bathrooms; Nine o'clock--clean the bedrooms; Ten o'clock--clean the kitchen; etc. This helped our son because he didn't want to be held hostage until the whole house was clean--it was torture to him, so knowing that he could go play between jobs was a big help.

Where do you start? First, consider ages and stages of your children:
Ages One to Four

Dirty clothes in laundry basket
Put shoes away
Pick up toys
Help care for pets
Help put dishes away
Help put clean clothes away
Help dust
Help wipe things down

Ages Five to Eight

Take out trash
Unload dishwaher
Fold clothes
Put clothes away
Set the table
Put dirty dishes at sink
Dirty clothes to washer
Help change sheets
Clean room once a week
Help prepare meals
Wipe down bathroom

Ages Eight & Up

Now Independent:
Change sheets
Sort and do laundry
Load/unload dishwaher
Cook simple meals
Help with siblings
Clean bathroom
Clean the kitchen

There are many ways you can schedule housework. When our children were very young, I did it on the weekend so I could moniter the little ones. When they were a little older, we got it all done on Friday night so we could enjoy a clean house over the weekend. Spreading it out over the week makes the load less each day.

If you have school aged children and/or your husband will help,
something like this might work; Rotate Weekly:
Person 1
Load & unload dishwasher
Keep counters cleaned and wiped down
Take out trash
Clean floors on weekend
Person 2
Run a load or two daily
Put folded clothes in appropriate rooms
Wash sheets on weekend
Person 3
Wipe down toilet and sink daily
Clean tub, mirror and floors on weekend
Living Space
Person 4
Vacuum and keep picked up
Brush out dogs
Dust on weekend

You may have different areas and more or less people who can help in the process. The chart is to give you ideas. If everyone stays up on the housework, Mom doesn't have a very big load and can do more family things.

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