Team Clean: Good Chores for Kids
Did you have a set list of chores growing up? Or maybe you weren’t responsible for chores at all. This is a popular topic of conversation amongst my friends. I don’t think anyone has it all figured out, but when it comes to kids and chores and household work, this is what works for us.
Might I add, it’s not easy to get kids to do chores. This system is not foolproof and you’ll definitely spend a lot of time teaching and re-teaching. Your patience will be tested for sure. But, like most good things in life, it will be worth it. I always say, I’m not sending my kids off into the world without knowing a few basic life skills – how to take care of their house, how to do laundry, how to cook a few simple meals, how to create a budget / balance a bank account.
With that out of the way, here’s our household cleaning system. We call it Team Clean. On Saturday mornings, I sit down with my coffee and make a list of chores that need to be done. A lot of them are weekly chores, some are specific to what’s going on at that time. I try to keep the list simple and not overwhelming, but helpful at the same time. I divide the chores up between the kids based on their age, their ownership in the task (teen girls often tackle their bathroom), or what chore I want them to learn. My goal is for all six of us to clean for about 30 minutes total, or until their jobs are done and done well. Music helps.
Here are a few ideas, sorted by age range.
Ages 5 and Under:
- Wipe baseboards. This one is my favorite. Little hands can reach baseboards easily. Give them an area to finish – hallway, room, or entire floor.
- Wipe doorknobs.
- Wipe doorjambs. Look closely – I bet there’s plenty of smudges at little-hand-level.
- Wipe cabinet fronts.
- Wipe down kitchen stools or dining room chairs.
- Collect any dishes from around the house and bring them to the kitchen.
- Note – I do not let kids this age use traditional, chemical-filled cleaners. We use Norwex products and love them. If you don’t use Norwex, a damp microfiber cloth (or any rag) will work the same (though it may not disinfect). You can also look up natural cleaning recipes online, or visit Clean Mama, one of my favorite cleaning resources.
Ages 6 – 10
- Refill hand soap in kitchen and all bathrooms.
- Use a hand vacuum to vacuum stairs.
- Dust living area furniture – show them how to carefully pick up items and dust under them. Teach them to not spray the furniture, spray the cleaning cloth, and to be careful with wood furniture (no water).
- Clean under the couch and couch cushions – throw away trash, hand vacuum cushions, return items to their proper place.
- Sweep a room – the kitchen, mud room, and laundry room are good places to start. You may not need the room swept, but it’s a good skill to learn.
- Scrub the kitchen sink. I use baking soda, water, and an essential oil. I sprinkle the baking soda all over the bottom of the sink, add a few drops of essential oil, then drip a little water on it all. I then scrub with a microfiber cloth until stains are removed and sink is shiny.
10 and Older
- Laundry – how to sort by color, what water temperature to use, stain removal, folding. The importance of moving items to the dryer in a timely manner (hello, stinky laundry).
- Clean the interior of the car – empty trash from all cup holders, floor, pockets, refill tissue, wipe down surfaces.
- Empty all trash cans in the house, take out trash.
- Take out recycling / break down cardboard.
- Vacuum – what attachments to use, how to empty the canister / filter.
- How to properly clean a bathroom, top to bottom, including the toilet.
Over the years the most important thing I’ve learned is to have patience. It’s easy to say “go clean the bathroom” and expect they’ll do a great job. The reality is you have to teach them how to do each chore, in detail, and probably a few times. This has set us back more than once. I go to check in on a job and am frustrated with what they’ve done (or haven’t done). They, in turn, are frustrated because they really tried (or didn’t, which is a whole other story). These days I really try to remember it’s a process, and if they’re actually helpful in the end, bonus.
I’d love to hear about what chore system works in your family. Leave a comment below!