Does anyone else struggle with keeping things clean & orderly at home? The answer must be YES since there is no lack of books, blogs, coaches, and resources to help us clean and organize our homes and offices.
1 – Teaching little kids how to be clean and orderly
Before they learned to read, I hung a pocket chart in the kitchen. I bought a really cute set of cards for organizing and training very young children to help with chores. The simple pictures on the cards made it easy for my kids to see what their jobs were.
My favorite one says Help Mom.
With a little guidance from mom, chores got done! As jobs were completed, the card got moved from the “to do” side of the chart over to the “done” side. With stickers and all manner of rewards, this system worked for several years.
(Summer camp has it together)
Our oldest daughter went away to summer camp as a fifth grader. Managing campers can be quite a challenge! I was impressed to see how they pulled it off. Each camper wore a lanyard for the week. The daily schedule was printed on one side, while the weekly schedule was printed on the other. Having a laminated lanyard around the necks of each camper went a long way in helping to keep everyone on track!
2 – The Fly Lady: Queen of Clean and Orderly
If you’ve never heard of The Fly Lady, then allow me to introduce you! Marla Cilley created a system of turning clutter and chaos into order and keeping it that way. Her concepts are simple and very much common sense.
In her book, Sink Reflections, Marla shares “how to” methods for turning your home into a bed and breakfast-type retreat that would be ready to welcome any guest at any time. Sound impossible? I certainly thought so until I took her advice! Of all the organizing and cleaning “systems” I’ve tried over the years, the principles that The Fly Lady teaches have stuck with me the most. Get a routine and stick with it. Rotate jobs until you’re done. As she likes to say:
You can do anything for fifteen minutes!
It’s nice to have a tried and true system to fall back on when you get that unexpected phone call…company’s coming and they’re staying for a few days!
3 – Make it fun & make it pretty
So, after learning about lanyards and a few basics from The Fly Lady, I got busy and made lanyards for each of our four kids (9, 6, 3, and 1). Back then we were into scrap booking, so the lanyards we made were personalized for each child with his/her own colors, papers, and stickers.
On one side, we printed a simple daily schedule that suited our needs at the time: breakfast; chores & free time; schooling; lunch, clean-up, free time; finish schooling; SQUIRT (super quiet uninterrupted reading time) & rest; dinner prep & clean up; family time; bedtime routine.
On the other side, we created a few simple routines:
Before breakfast: wake up; make up (the bed); dress up (get dressed); pick up; and put up
Mealtimes: set the table; cups & drinks; “Thank you, sorry, and please;” clear table & do dishes; wipe surfaces; sweep
Before bed: pick up & put up; story time; “Thank you, sorry, and please;” brush & flush
These simple lanyards helped train our kids to do simple tasks and keep somewhat on a schedule.
4 – How they do it at Chick-fil-A – keeping everything clean & orderly
The inevitable finally happened: our oldest daughter got her first job. As the first-born, she was quite happy to come home and share with us just how Chick-fil-A is able to operate a tight ship! So, we took a few organizational tips and set up a similar job chart. This time the jobs are posted on a white board. We found it handy to use a label maker.
Promise not to laugh! It’s old and pretty well used up…
5 – Overcoming chaos when they’re all grown up
Now that the kids are busy with high school, college, and work, it’s tougher now than ever to keep clutter and chaos from taking over.
One morning as I started my morning routine (brew coffee; switch out laundry; empty dishwasher; begin devotions with a hot cup of coffee!), it occurred to me how to manage the chores now that everyone is on different schedules.
I took an index card and then walked around the house listing the jobs that needed to be done that day. I cut them out and folded them (as you would for drawing names from a hat). Each person in the family (including dad) had to “draw” a job until all jobs were taken. There are only two rules:
- the job has to be done sometime during the day
- you may trade jobs with someone
This plan, by far, has been the MOST successful of anything I’ve tried with older kids! It allows for time flexibility and ensures that jobs get done. Even dad is on board with this strategy!
6 – My latest strategy for cleanliness and order in a house full of really busy people
When you burn out on listing the jobs every morning, try listing the chores in categories:
- Daily – kitchen (dishes, surfaces, sweep); laundry; bedrooms (to each his own); bathrooms (whoever shares one, alternate weeks to clean it); unclutter; garbage
- Once a week – floors (mop & vacuum); dust; vehicles; lawn care
- Projects – painting; planting; gardening; closets; repairs; wood splitting
This chart stays posted on the refrigerator as a friendly reminder. 🙂
Hopefully, some of these ideas will help you in your quest to conquer chaos and clutter without having to hire a housekeeper!
Clean & Orderly - Chore Chart
Don't hire a housekeeper...get the family in gear! Customize the chart your way.