I’m often asked how we manage to keep the house in order with so many kids. It’s simple really. Train your kids at a young age to help out. Kids naturally want to be helpful but if you don’t cultivate this they will quickly become lazy, and once they get to that point it is very hard to train them well. Not impossible but much harder.
You don’t have to beat the cleaning into them. Start small, and make it fun. At 1 to 1 1/2 years old they can start.
When Shamus was one, he was able to kick anything and hit his target. It was incredible. Anytime he didn’t want to pick up toys we’d have him kick them into the toy box. It would go from almost a full on tantrum of defiance to a playful game of kick the toys. It took longer but we were all having fun with it. Plus, the older kids got involved because they saw Shamus having so much fun. Did I mention he was only one?!
See how many toys they can throw into the toy box, or set a timer and see how much can be picked up in a set amount of time. If you have more than one little one, make it a race and see who can pick up the most in a set time. This is the start to joyful and compliant cleaning later. They won’t always find it fun when they are older but these little things help set the foundation for when they are older because they always know “this is how it’s done.” They are part of the family and they help as a family.
The ages of our kids are 12, 11, 10, 9, 7, 6, 4, 2, and 8 months, and all but the baby have set chores that they are responsible for on a daily basis.
There was a point in time that I thought it was all on me to do. Literally everything. How silly of me to think! But I believe every mom falls into this at the beginning. Then they hit a breaking point because they can no longer do it all and they are faced with training their almost teenagers to clean. If you came to your breaking point before they are preteen, good for you. It will save you many headaches.
We have tried many things over the years but I think we finally nailed down a schedule that will work for us long term. We chose a two month rotate as this gives the kids time to “master” their chore before learning/moving onto a different set of chores.
Right now the kids are doing this:
Living room – Emry and Tirzah
Dining room – Mara
Kitchen – Garrett
Garbage – Kurtis
Bathroom – Garrett
Boy’s room – Adrian
Girl’s room – Mara and Tirzah
Reading room and stairs – Wyatt
Bottom of stairs and sorting dirty laundry – Kurtis
Wash clothes and keep landing clean – Mara
Put clothes on the line – Garrett
Fold and put away clothes – Adrian
Breakfast – Adrian
Lunch – Kurtis
Snack and supper – Emry
For yard work we all go out and pick up together and the oldest five kid have their own area they keep mowed.
Once winter is here we have shoveling to deal with. Garrett is our main shoveler but that is because he likes it and almost always takes care of it as needed without even being asked. He’s good about letting us know if he doesn’t want to shovel or is getting burnt out on it and we have others take their turn.
As a child gets a new chore Dean and I take the first week or two to walk them through the right way to do that chore until we feel they can handle it on their own. Every day after the kids think their chores are done the check in and Dean and I check their area. Some days are better than others, but it’s a work in progress, as everything else in life.
How do you get your kids involved in house cleaning?