Simple Home Care

Keeping up with the care of a home may seem impossible with busy schedules. While every family is unique in function and structure, every home shares basic responsibilities such as laundry, dishes, floor care, and clutter control. If you are struggling to find the perfect plan to fit the needs of your family, we have included a few ideas for you to try.

Keeping the House Clean

Backpacks, shoes, toys, and papers. These are the things that we trip over and find cluttering our dinner tables and chairs. And once the clutter is gone, we uncover the dust, the dirty clothes, the dishes, and the bathrooms in need of attention. The easiest way to conquer it all is to hire it done. But, if you would rather put that money towards a nice vacation -- or for most of us, groceries -- give one or all of the following tips a try:

10-minute Tidy

Every evening before bedtime, initiate a "ten-minute tidy." Every member of the household will work fast and furious for just ten minutes to pick-up, sort, put away, or throw away anything laying around. Set a timer, so everyone knows they can quit after just ten minutes. You will be amazed at how much can be accomplished in just ten minutes with all hands on deck.

Maniac Monday

Choose a day of the week that will be your cleaning day. Clean bathrooms, do laundry, scrub floors, and change bed linens. Know that this will be a long day, but it will be the only day you spend with all of the deep-cleaning for the week. Don't forget to enlist the help of your family!

Chore of the Day

Create a schedule with day-of-the-week chores that you can complete in an hour or two. Each day, you will conquer one big chore plus one load of laundry.

Do What You Hate First

When conquering several task on any given day, begin with the chores you hate the most. As the day goes on, the work gets lighter and less disgusting, which helps to improve your attitude about all of it. Let's face it, it is really hard to have a great attitude while cleaning toilets!

Children and Chores

How much is too much to require of my children, what is appropriate for each age, and are my children helping enough? These are questions that each family must balance to find the right fit. A good rule of thumb is to require that each child that can walk be responsible to pick up the things she leaves out, such as toys and dirty clothes. Then, as each child grows, enlist help with as much as she is able. Begin with putting clean dishes away or feeding the family pet. Teenagers might be responsible for deep cleaning their own bathroom every week or preparing a simple family meal. Training responsible children produces responsible, independent adults. Here are a few ideas to think about and apply as age-appropriate.

Do chore charts work?

While children are young, they may respond to a simple sticker or check mark on a chart for completing simple chores. You might also provide incentives to complete the things on the list before playing with friends, television, or computer time. Some parents find reward coupons or tokens to be successful so that children may collect and save these for special parent/child dates, a small toy, or an ice cream cone. The important thing is to keep incentives small, as you are wanting to teach your children to take care of themselves as adults and not to expect rewards for things they most certainly will not be rewarded for as adults.

Is allowance a good incentive?

This is a tricky line to walk. The answer to this question lies in what the money "earned" will be used for. For example, if you pay your teenage son for keeping his own room clean, but then he wants a new video game or cell phone. If you buy it for him, you are not helping him to be responsible with either money or taking care of himself. If you are giving your children money to help care for the home in which they live, you should also allow them to be responsible for the extra expenses and "wants" that come along. Teach them to save for the extra, non-essential purchases, so that they appreciate them more and also have a desire to help at home. Some families find it effective to expect the minimal chores as the cost of living in the home, but extra things like mowing the lawn or cleaning the ceiling fans will earn an allowance. Find the best fit for your family, but as your children begin to earn money, help them spend it wisely by requiring that they pay for some of the "extras."

How about a job board?

The idea behind this is to create a bulletin or magnet board with "Jobs for Hire." You can post the specifics of the job, the associated rate of pay, and the completion deadline. Your children can then look at the board and "accept" the jobs they are willing to do. Some parents have found it effective to even attach the cash right to the job posting. There is something about the color of green that seems to grab attention and motivate action. A good stipulation is to require that the "regular" non-paying chores (like making your own bed or picking up your own dirty clothes) be done before paying jobs may be accepted.


Laundry Tips

Ugh! Laundry is that never-ending chore that just keeps coming back every day. I've included some tips to help conquer the mountain.



Kids and white don't mix! But if you must buy white, the best defense against set-in stains is to pre-treat. Inspect children's clothes before washing and pre-treat with your favorite spotter. A little dish soap works well, too, for oily stains (like pizza grease). And cold water wash is best for protein stains, like blood. Be sure to inspect again before sending clothes to the dryer.



You'll keep whites whiter and brights brighter, if you sort. This way, you can safely add a little bleach to the extra grimey socks without ruining your daughter's soccer shirt. When my children were very young, sorting the laundry mountain was so daunting that I would often give up before I even started the first load in the washer. When I do laundry, I want to get it started right away. My solution was to purchase five laundry hampers. On the lid of each hamper, I placed a sign with the colors that could go in that hamper. I even color-coded the color names, so that the non-reader could match the colors. My categories were Whites, Lights, Reds, Darks, and Jeans. I lined these up on the landing in the middle of all of the bedrooms. I could then easily see when a hamper was full (which was one load of laundry) and stuff it right into the machine. This worked beautifully for several years!



Laundry chores can be a family effort. For years, I washed, dried, and folded. My children were responsible to take their own piles and put them in their own drawers. As I began to raise teenagers, I gave each child her own hamper for her room, and she became responsible to wash her own clothes. She could combine efforts with a sibling and wash together, or I might call for jeans if I had extra room in my load. Of course, her laundry was not always done or done perfectly, but sometimes we just have to step back and let our children learn (and maybe even lower our expectations). I read somewhere recently that frustration is the difference between expectation and observation. So, if we lower the expectation of some things, we also lower the frustration.