Cleaning the House

Who is supposed to clean the house? The shared areas, the individual rooms, the icky areas (toilets and cat urp), the dishes, the refrigerator and on and on…..

I know spouses and roommates have come to blows over these questions.

At different times, we have had different answers at my house. When the kids were toddlers, they weren’t able to much more than “help” pick up their toys. I did everything from washing all the linens to mopping the floor after each meal (we ARE talking toddlers here) to pinning one of them down to brush his teeth.

When everyone was in elementary school/college and the day care costs were down, I hired someone to come into the house and clean it. I still did the dishes and washed the linens and clothes, but it was a huge time saver, and if you can afford it, I recommend it. When I went part-time, there was no way to pay for house cleaning services, and the kids were older and more capable. I proposed to them that I would pay them for cleaning the house, and I broke it down into small chores. I created a document in the computer listing the chores, what I would pay for the chore completed to my satisfaction and what cleaners/tools were required to complete it. That document looks like this:

Things to Clean In the House

~Sweep or vacuum all wood floors $3.00

~Vacuum carpet (upstairs and stairs) $3.00

~Vacuum couches, under cushions too (use crevice tool) $2.00

~Clean toilet (brush and baking soda on inside, 7th Generation on outside) $4.00 upstairs toilet

 ~$4.00 downstairs toilet

~Sweep or vacuum kitchen and back entry way floor, shake out rug (outside) $2.00

~Mop kitchen and back entry floor (it must be swept/vacuumed 1st) $4.00

~Clean bathroom sinks and mirrors (use 7th Generation for sinks, glass cleaner for mirrors) $1.00 upstairs

~$1.00 downstairs

~Wash and dry towels in downstairs bath, wash rug with towels, but DO NOT put rug in dryer (use ½ cap laundry soap) $1.00

~Wash and dry your own sheets and comforters $1.00

~Clean inside and out of microwave (use 7th generation) $1.00

~Take out ALL trash (kitchen, both bathrooms and kitty litter in basement) Refill trash can liners in kitchen and litter container) $1.00

~Vacuum basement floor $2.00

~Clean downstairs shower and tub (7th Generation on walls, Barkeeper’s friend on tub) $3.00

~Vacuum or sweep bathroom floor, wipe down with wet cloth $2.00 upstairs

~$2.00 downstairs

~Clean living room mirror, glass in pictures in living, dining room, kitchen (glass cleaner & paper towel) $1.00

~Wash car $5.00

~Vacuum car $2.00

~Sweep back porch $2.00

~Clean stove drip pans $1.00

~Dust downstairs and upstairs (baseboards, window sills, furniture, etc) $4.00

~Sweep and wipe the front entry floor $1.00

Every other weekend, when the kids are at my house, I print off this document. The kids and I do a round-robin choosing up of the chores, then we get to work. Nobody has to pick a chore that they loathe. I pay more for the chores that I would rather not have to do. It generally takes less than an hour and a half, with all of us working together. And lately, the only chore that they will “let” me do is vacuum the basement floor, as they want the money for the other chores.

There are benefits to this arrangement, too many to mention, but here are a few:

~the kids learn how to clean a house, how quickly it gets dirty, what they can do to make things easier, i.e. take shoes off when you come inside, wipe it up before it dries on, if you kinda put things away during the week, you don’t have a 2 hour blitz of picking up before your brother vacuums your floor, etc.

~they earn their spending money. They become mindful about how they spend when they know how much work went into earning.

~they take pride in our home. (No kidding, I have heard a kid, when a friend is over, commenting….”well, we just cleaned the house…”

~they hold their siblings accountable (less nagging for mom). I don’t have to tell them to pick up their rooms, a brother or sister will say, “Do you have all the stuff off the floor so I can vacuum?” or there was the day I got a series of phone calls while I was at the grocery store about a sibling who had let loose in the house with some Silly String. By the time I got home, it was (mostly) cleaned up.

When I went back to full-time work, I told them I could hire the cleaning people again, or they could continue to clean the house for pay and they chose to keep cleaning the house.

My kids are the best.


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