Friday, September 18, 2009

Get Ready, Get Set...CLEAN! (Long Post Alert!!)

With the start of the new school year, and with our house in the final stages of sale, I have found myself a little overwhelmed with keeping our house picture perfect. We've had realtors calling to schedule showings - not all of them giving lots of notice. If you've ever had your house on the market, you know what I'm talking about.

I sometimes get asked how I manage to keep our house looking picture perfect while it's on the market, while at the same time trying to homeschool 2 children. I think I've figured out a good plan for our family and thought I'd share it here.

First and foremost, I am a firm believer that children need chores. I saw an idea at Life is Not a Cereal for a reward system, and I thought this would be a good starting place for inspiration. Her kiddos are a little younger than my main chore-doers, so I had to devise my own plan (I am not posting my actual charts, because I do not want to take away from Jenni's idea - she's the brains behind this whole idea - I just had to tweak mine a little to fit our chore needs). But I loved the Treasure Chest / Jewel system so much, I decided to incorporate her idea into our plan. I went to Oriental Trading Co. and found these neat metal Treasure Chest Banks. While there, I also purchased a large supply of Marti Gras coins (the jewels were just soooo expensive). I had to make the slits in the top of the banks a little bigger, but it was nothing my kitchen shears couldn't handle!

But I began to notice that my children needed more than a choice of what chores to do, so I made them each a list of REQUIRED chores to be done daily - broken down into morning and afternoon chores. For each chore, they earn a coin. If they want to earn extra coins, they have to pull a card from our Chore File, which has various different options for chores, as well as the details about how they know when that area is clean. I've found that if I don't do this, they will rush through them without actually cleaning anything.

Also posted on the fridge, alongside their Chore Lists, is a Reward List...similar in theory to Jenni's from Life is Not a Cereal. I asked the kids what rewards they'd like to see, and we sat down and made the list together. They "spend" their coins for various "priced" rewards. We have "inexpensive" rewards like Bubble Bath and Makeover with Mommy (for the girls, of course), but we also have "expensive" rewards like a trip to Chuck E. Cheese. This way, they view their reward as a goal to be reached by being responsible family members, they get a nice math lesson in "money" and "counting," AND they learn to save up for the things they want the most.

This is working beautifully, by the way...even our 3 year old is participating! And they all love receiving their coins, and putting them in their banks!!

Trey (almost 10) is homeschooled so his morning chores include making his bed, feeding the dog, taking out the trash, and unloading the dishwasher. His afternoon chores include unloading the dishwasher (again...we have a lot of dishes), picking up his bedroom, sweeping/mopping the kitchen, and helping Lindsay with one chore.

Addison (almost 9) attends public school, and has less time in the morning, so her morning chores only include making her bed, and clearing the table after breakfast. Her afternoon chores include picking up/vacuuming the Living Room, picking up the kids' bathroom (until she's older, I still do all the gross stuff), folding clothes, and setting the table for dinner.

Lindsay (almost 4) is in homeschool Pre-K. Her morning chores include clearing her breakfast station, getting dressed without reminding, brushing her hair and teeth by herself, and making her bed. Her afternoon chores include using the Dustbuster to pick up crumbs, etc., Windexing the windows/glass doors, and picking up her bedroom.

These chores are done EVERY DAY. I've found that it is much easier to clean a little every day than have to spend an entire weekend getting it done. Besides, it's FOOTBALL SEASON!! Who wants to be cleaning when the Razorbacks are playing??? GO HOGS!!

In addition to their everyday chores, each family member is officially responsible for doing their own laundry. Each person has their own laundry basket with their name on it, and they have their own day of the week in which they do their laundry. Since Lindsay is still a little one, I still help her with hers, but she is required to be there and do most of the work. She's gotta learn sometime, right?? There is also a laundry basket in the kids' bathroom for towels. Since I'm home, I do my husband's laundry for him unless I'm sick, etc. I do towels and sheets on Sunday.

If everyone is responsible, and adheres to their daily chore lists, my chores can get done more efficiently. Every morning, after Addie gets on the bus, I do a load of dishes, put something for dinner in the crockpot, and wipe down all the counters and kitchen sink. I grab a few paper towels, my Swiffer Duster, and hook a bottle of Simple Green to the front pocket of my jeans (FINALLY a use for that tiny little pocket!!). Then I make my way to the back of the house, checking each room to see if it needs attention. My rule of thumb is to do a general pick up on my way to the BACK of the house (with a trash bag in hand), and do a thorough cleaning on my way back to the FRONT.
I then throw everything into the trashbag I've been carrying, and take it outside. I keep a caddy full of cleaning supplies in each bathroom as well so I don't have to carry that all over the house.

Addie usually gets on the bus at 7:20 am, and I'm ALWAYS done by 8:30am. We start school at 9am sharp. This gives us a nice clean house to start our day with. We're usually in the homeschool classroom, or kitchen for most of the day. So their bedrooms don't usually get messy until after school time. Hence the reason I listed that chore as an afternoon chore. (Ahaa!! Method to my madness!!!) :)

This method has worked well for us. I only hope we can keep it up during the moving/transistion process!!! :) Feel free to post your own cleaning schedules/ideas!! I love reading from others how they manage kids, house, etc.! Happy Cleaning Ya'll!! :)


  1. Sounds great Amy but I don't have any kids to help!! =)

  2. I am glad that you guys are enjoying geocaching! We did a little bit earlier this Summer and got my Dad and his wife hooked.

    I REALLY like your chore system. I just might have to implement this one!