So…I do not do very many chores in my house. Really. I stay terribly busy with a million things, but chores just really aren’t one of them. My life changed pretty dramatically almost 7 years ago, and when that happened, so did our chore routines. I wrote about chores a few months ago but I decided to go into more detail on the zone system and why we love it so much.
Don’t misunderstand me. I can do most of the chores in this house – with the exception of scrubbing the tub, behind the toilets and cleaning out the fridge or wiping up the back of my countertops. I can sweep, vacuum, mop, dust (love those Swiffer extender dusters), make beds, clean up clutter, and do most of the laundry (I cannot reach it in the washer to put in the dryer). So, not being physically able is not the reason I do not do them. Because I can do them.
But….it takes SO long to do chores! When I used to zip through my house and have it straightened up in about an hour now takes me half of a day. It is absolutely ridiculous. I have better things to do then to spend 4 hours a day just trying to clean up. By the time I am done, I am absolutely exhausted and the rest of my day is shot because I am just too tired. I would hate to die and the only thing I accomplished with my life was trying to keep the vacuum cord untangled from my wheels!
It has just been within the last couple years, after unsuccessfully being able to keep up with my home and just staying frustrated with chores, that I decided it was time I gave myself a promotion. I decided that after 15 years on the job, I was being promoted to foreman. So, I made up a little system when we moved to our new home here in SC that has been the best decision I ever made regarding chores!
Let me set some foundational thinking first:
- There are a lot of people in this house. Jimmy has 6 children and I have 7 making a total of 8 people. Think about that. You will get it. 🙂 Jimmy works from home and we homeschool. That means that every day, a lot of people + lot of living = a lot of mess! I am only 1 out of 8 and I assure you I do not make the biggest majority of the mess and therefore, I am not going to be the only one to clean it up.
- My kids have always had to help with chores. I think it is good for their character and I also think their future spouses will thank me! This was my mentality before a wheelchair ever entered the picture!
- Jimmy has always been willing to help me with the housework since I homeschool and help in the church that he pastors. We are truly a team. He likes to pick the jobs himself and that is fine with me. I am just glad he helps! So, the chores that he has are the ones that he chose and likes to do. Fair enough!
- I have tried a ton of different chore ideas and systems to help organize and keep on top of this home. All would work in different ways, but the kids would get so tired of doing the same chores. Also, because they are kids, I was always repeating myself a million times because they would forget certain areas or jobs. What we do now has just been wonderful and has been consistently wonderful for almost 2 years now so I am a believer.
Having said all that, I will now share what I did!
I have 6 kids (well, 7 counting Jimmy! 🙂 ) so I divided the house into 6 chore zones.
- Living Room
- Dining Room
- 2 Bathrooms
- Laundry Room/Hallway
- Outside yard/Porches
I made index cards for each zone and wrote down on that card every single thing that has to be done in that room. I also added what needed to be done once that week in that zone. For example, they sweep every day, but they only mop once a week. They can pick any day they would like to do their weekly jobs, but it has to be done.
I have a large magnetic board and put their initials on magnets. On Monday, we rotate the zones to a new kid. So each kid gets one zone for the week – from Monday to Sunday. Then, they get a new zone the following week.
This has been so wonderful for several reasons:
- Some zones are easier than others. The kitchen is a hard zone, but the laundry room and hallway is very easy. So, they know that if they have a hard zone, an easy zone is coming so they do not bog down and get discouraged with a hard zone. In our family, it is also very easy for me to dump the harder jobs on the older ones and they can resent that very fast! Learned that the hard way! It is good for the younger ones to be challenged in a harder zone!
- The kids love rotating the zones on Monday. They are ready for a new zone. It is cute to see them get excited about a fresh place to keep up.
- I LOVE having every chore written down. If I see a room that has not been swept at all, I ask if they did their chores. If they say yes, I just ask if they looked at their card. If they did not, then I do not have to go over every thing they forgot. It is already on their card!
- My youngest is learning to work. Elisha is only 6 so he cannot really handle many of the zones alone so for now he has the yard zone. He gets bored with it and it is pretty easy, so he also helps with trash and picking up his own stuff.
- Jimmy does all dishes and washes and dries most of the laundry. We all help fold and put it up. The kids all fold their own laundry. The older children do their own laundry most of the time, but if they get behind Jimmy will take care of it.
- Jimmy and I keep up with our own bedroom and bathroom and the kids have to keep their own rooms cleaned on top of their zones. Recently, my oldest daughter has been wanting to make money so I have been paying her to clean my room/bathroom every couple weeks. She loves the cash and I am enjoying the extra time!
An important lesson I learned:
When you are not able to do the chores yourself, or the way you like to do them, you can become a mean ogre. I learned early on that I was going to drive all my family away from me because I was OCD about what I could no longer do! It was awful. I learned that when others help you, you have to back off.
I had to drop my level of expectation. I have also had to drop what I think others level of expectation is for me and my home. They do not live in my paralyzed body and they do not manage my children. So, their opinion is none of my business. I just try to do the best that we can do and uphold my children to their best ability. Of course they will skip corners if they can, but I no longer hold them to my standard of best. I hold them to theirs.
My kids are amazing. They help with the cooking and the cleaning. We are a big ship and it takes a crew to keep it all going. I used to feel so terribly guilty about them doing so much but as they are getting older, I see they are becoming very responsible teenagers and I can see how God is even using a Momma that stinks at chores to help groom them into the beautiful people they are. It really swells my heart to see them pitch right in and do their part. I do not know what I would do without the support of my hubby and kids. I try to thank them, love on them and do what I can extra to give back to them in the ways I can.
I’m not sure if this post is helpful to anyone or not, but I thought I would just share how it is done around here!