“Not the cards, mom!” You would think by their wailing I was inflicting the greatest punishment ever. Nope. Just routine house cleaning my kids were required to do….some daily, some weekly, some monthly. The cards were part of a system I devised to achieve two goals: regular cleaning and teaching the kids to clean their room.
The cleaning system was comprised of index cards in four different colors—blue for daily, yellow for weekly, pink for monthly, and green for semi-annual jobs. Each Saturday I would divide the cards between kids and hang them on the “job board” on the hook under their name, requiring chore completion before TV, games, or friends took over the day.
I made the board about 15-18 years ago. Even though the kids are now grown and the board resides in the closet corner, I can’t quite part with it. Here’s a quick look…. (more details in another post)
The home family cleaning system was pretty simple and included tasks even the little ones could accomplish. The best part was the whole house was cleaned regularly and I didn’t have to remember assignments. Follow these steps if you want to create a similar system:
Gather Information and Materials
- With note pad and pen in hand, go room-by-room listing each task that needs completed. This list can be as long as you want….just depends on how clean you want the house!
- Take the list and group tasks into daily, weekly, monthly, and semi-annual jobs.
- Decide which color card will be used for each of the four task groups.
- Get heavy weight paper for the chore cards in four different colors. Use pre-cut paper such as index cards or gift tags, or make cards yourself from cardstock. (Note: You will have more weekly and monthly tasks so you will need more cards in those two colors.)
- Write each task listed for each room on separate cards. Use words or pictures, depending on kids’ ages. (See below for task ideas.)
- Create a board with a hook for each kid (or a card file with divider for each kid or some other way to group the assignments).
- Hang up the cards and have a family meeting to get everyone familiar with the system.
- Make assignments by hanging cards face up so task shows. When task is completed, hang cards so task faces the wall. Put a smiley face or other encouragement on the back of the card so it will be seen when task is completed.
Task List Ideas
Since each family size and house size are different, giving you my list wouldn’t work. Mine would be similar to but different from yours so I am just giving you a few ideas instead. Add and subtract cards in the process as needed determined by kids ages and what you want them to learn.
Daily Card—use one card per child with a list of tasks to be completed each day; these are usually chores for keeping their room tidy.
To keep the little ones from being too overwhelmed, or if jobs weren’t getting done, I would have a separate card for each daily task. Some kids like to note progress step-by-step with each task; some like to get it all completed then check it off. Tasks could be:
- Make your bed
- Take dirty clothes to laundry
- Put away clean clothes
- Empty trash can
- Do homework
- Read 1 hour
Weekly Cards—one card per task per room. Weekly cards are mostly for general cleaning with each room having several cards.
I chunked larger jobs down to smaller bits so it wouldn’t be overwhelming such as “vacuum one bedroom” instead of “vacuum entire house”. Usually each of the kids were given the cards for their own room plus some from other parts of the house. Sometimes, to help teach service, they were assigned a sibling’s room. As they got older, job trading began—one would take all the dusting cards and one all the vacuuming cards, etc. Weekly jobs could be:
- Clean bathroom mirror—kids bath
- Clean bathroom mirror—master bath
- Dust living room
- Dust den
- Vacuum stairs
- Vacuum living room
- Vacuum hallway
Monthly Cards—one card for each task that only needed done monthly. Monthly cards are rotated and assigned along with weekly cards. Tasks might include:
- Wash shower curtain
- Clean oven
- Dust plants
- Dust ceiling fan
- Clean sliding glass door
- Straighten toy box
- Straighten game closet
- Wash all door knobs
- Dust all window sills
Semi-Annual Cards—one card per major cleaning job that only needs tackled twice each year. Usually semi-annual jobs are a group effort with a special treat at the end.
I had one card for each room in the house that said “major clean___________”. This meant moving furniture to clean under, removing all dust bunnies, taking books off shelves and dusting them, washing mini blinds (instead of dusting), washing windows, etc. This way each room in the house was major cleaned top to bottom every 6-8 months. These tasks could be:
- Clean window screens
- Clean garage
- Shampoo carpet in living room
The system worked for teaching my kids how to clean, how to manage their time, and how to properly finish a task. My system was retired a few years ago as kids moved on to college, marriage, and their own families. Now that they are grown, I think it’s time to hire a maid……