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Organizing Housework: How to Organize Family Chores with Kids

Updated on September 1, 2011

Who has time to clean?

As a full-time working wife and mom of three, I’ve often struggled with keeping up with the demands of housework. Hiring out housecleaning services would certainly be my first choice, but it doesn’t fit in our tight budget. Instead, I’ve learned some tips for organizing the housework to fit our busy lifestyle.

Over the years I’ve tried several different systems to help me keep up with the house. I’ve tried to do it all in one evening during the week; I’ve used the weekends to catch up on all the cleaning; and I’ve tried getting my husband and kids in on the chores.

No matter what I tried, however, I found that none of those housecleaning methods worked in and of themselves.

Can you relate?

When I tried cleaning the house one night a week, something would inevitably come up that night, and then everything would get pushed back another week. When that happened, the amount of work would be so great the second week, and then I would be too overwhelmed to even start. I’m sure that other busy moms will relate to my struggles.

Trying to do all of my housework on weekends didn’t turn out much better. After working all week, then cleaning all weekend, I found that I had little time to relax or enjoy my days off. Besides what mom wants to spend her entire weekend working on all the household chores? I can’t tell you how many times I would have rather been outside playing with the kids but felt overburdened by the amount of work inside.

Recruiting my husband and kids in on the housecleaning action certainly seemed like the best plan of all. This however, came with the same road blocks. Someone would have something scheduled, the ball would drop, and everyone would end up upset. And then the house still wasn’t clean! This system didn’t just frustrate me, but frustrated my family as well.

What worked for me

The best approach that I’ve found for my family has been an intentional combination of the three. Instead of one designated night a week, however, one household area is scheduled to be cleaned each evening. This system requires some planning and organization, but the results are well worth the effort.

For example: Mondays would be kitchen cleaning night. Everyone pitches in to wipe down the counters and stove, sweep and mop the floor, and make sure everything is put away. Everyone working together for a short period of time is much easier to handle than trying to get everyone to clean the whole house. The following day, would then be to clean the living room and so forth.

Weekends work into this organization as well. Saturdays are for grocery shopping, catching up on laundry or finishing any tasks that may have not been completed. Sundays, however, are reserved for recreation and relaxation.

This method of housecleaning keeps the large tasks manageable and isn’t too much of a burden for anyone – including mom! Organizing the process early spreads out the chores and gives mom some help and some time to relax.

Try these helpful housework tips

  • Make a chart so everyone knows what room gets cleaned each day. Keep in mind practice and activity schedules ahead of time so that you aren’t setting up your child to fail.
  • List out the assigned responsibilities for each room. This will help everyone be clear on what’s expected of them.
  • Purchase convenience cleaning products. Swifter dusters and toilet brush wands are a lot easier and more fun for the kids to use.
  • Dole out laundry responsibilities as well. My youngest learned how to do her own laundry when she was eight. Before that, she was still responsible to put her own laundry away.
  • Try to complete one load of laundry each day of the week. This will prevent laundry overload on the weekends.
  • Reward their efforts. Treat a job well done with an ice-cream cone or a special meal. Develop incentive programs for great attitudes and extra efforts. We use a bonus point system.
  • Give each family member a night off during the week. We all deserve a break.
  • Create and follow through with consequences. In my house, if it’s your day to empty the dishwasher and it’s not done by a certain time, then you have to empty it and load it after dinner.
  • Be flexible. No one will clean quite as well as you do, but having the help is well worth it. If the job is done very poorly, then teach them how to do it right. For the most part, I leave it – it’s better than it was. I only go back and give something “the mom touch” if we are having company. I want them to be proud of their work.

Balancing a career, housework, and family responsibilities isn’t easy. Keep in mind that the charts and schedules are just guidelines, not hard and fast rules. Your own organization will look differently depending on your family and your home. Encourage your family by rewarding their efforts with plenty of praise and affection. We busy moms need all the help we can get!

Be sure to vote this up if you found it helpful or if you can relate! Add your own tips, tricks, and frustrations with housecleaning in the comment section below. I'd love to hear from you!


Submit a Comment
  • lisabeaman profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from Phoenix, AZ

    Thanks renegade tory! No one likes nagging! I'm glad your chart was able to put an end to the arguing. Thanks for commenting!

  • renegadetory profile image

    Carolyn Dahl 

    7 years ago from Ottawa, Ontario

    One of the best things I did was sitting down at my computer and printing out a chart to put on the fridge of everyone's responsibilities. My teenage daughter was notorious for telling me week after week that she couldn't remember what she was supposed to do for chores, so she wouldn't do anything and my husband and I got sick and tired of constantly nagging her to do things. The chart works so much better and she takes initiative on her own, which I like and my husband likes. Neither of us like nagging.

  • profile image


    8 years ago

    Very well thought out ans well written hub with lots of helpful information.

  • lisabeaman profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from Phoenix, AZ

    Thanks Tom! You're right, making it fun for this is key! And I really like the idea of adding music to motivate. I know that always helps me be in the housecleaning mood! Thanks for adding that and for you comments!

  • profile image

    Tom Craik 

    8 years ago

    Just stumbled upon your article and it's very informative. Getting the whole family involved in contributing to housework is a great way to take the burden off yourself and for everyone to come together around a shared goal. The trick with kids is to make it fun for them so they are happy to do it again and again. Like you say, point systems and incentives are great, and even little things like putting music on can help motivate your clan

  • lisabeaman profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from Phoenix, AZ

    Thanks for sharing Viking! That's great that you were able to learn a lot from your mother. My mother-in-law made sure that her boys knew how to take care of themselves too. Everyone is amazed that my husband does his own laundry. He also cooks and cleans better than I do! I didn't learn those things from my mom... in fact, it was my brother-in-law who taught me how to mop the floor. I hope that my kids are better prepared when they have homes of their own. Giving them chores and teaching them now should help a lot. Thanks!

  • viking305 profile image

    L M Reid 

    8 years ago from Ireland

    Yes I have always believed that children should be given chores to do around the house. It gives them a sense of responsility and achievement.

    As the eldest girl in the family I always had more chores than the remaing four children in the family but it was second nature to me so I never questioned it.

    Now I can cook like an expert because my mother taught me all she knew. She worked all her life so it was up to me to cook for the family on the nights she worked. But to be honest this was never a chore because I love cooking!

    Voted up

  • lisabeaman profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from Phoenix, AZ

    @Dobson - You'd be amazed at how a dry erase board like this can be overlooked. I've had more than a few "Oh! I didn't see that!" excuses! But at least they can't say I didn't tell them... it's their own fault if they don't "see" it. Thanks!

  • Dobson profile image


    8 years ago from Virginia

    I am impressed with your dry erase schedule. This is a great way to have no miscommunication or "I forgot" discussions. Everyone sees ahead of time what their responsibilities area. Nice hub on helping mom around the home.

  • lisabeaman profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from Phoenix, AZ

    Audrey - those are GREAT ideas! What a fun grandma you are! And smart too - great way to get the kids excited about cleaning! Thanks for sharing!

  • vocalcoach profile image

    Audrey Hunt 

    8 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

    lisa - These are great tips for organizing cleaning duties. When my grandchildren visit me, I play a "Mr (s) Clean" game that goes something like this. I type out a list of various chores or tasks on a sheet of paper, leaving enough room to cut out each job so that I have a small stack of tasks. I fill a wicker hand basket with easter grass. I use the plastic eggs that divide in two parts which are supposed to be used at Easter time to be filled with candy, etc. Instead of using candy, I place a Mr. Clean Task from the list I typed up, which is now the small stack, into each egg (I have 4 grandkids, so I have 4 eggs. Some suggestions are folding clothes from the dryer, empty the dish washer, dust, vacuum, whatever I need to be done. They love picking out their own egg, opening it and reading what their Mr. Clean Task is.

    When all the little duties are done, I make a huge fuss over a job well done and enjoy the big smiles of satisfaction from each little face. We all celebrate grammas spanking clean house by watching a favorite DVD accompanied by a big bowl of popcorn. Thanks so much for your fabulous hub!

  • lisabeaman profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from Phoenix, AZ

    LeanMan... you're killin' me here!!! I wonder if she wonders what you do all day? Thanks for stopping by!

  • LeanMan profile image


    8 years ago from At the Gemba

    I often wondered what my wife did all day.. Now I know, thanks for telling me.. lol

  • lisabeaman profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from Phoenix, AZ

    Thanks everyone!

    @Cagsil - Even if you can't personally relate to this specific topic, my guess is that you can apply it to other tasks and responsibilities. I've learned that things just don't happen on their own. It takes some intentionality, planning, and time management to accomplish goals. I'm trying the time management/planning approach to hub writing next!

    @Pakpub & Wendy - Yes, shared work is always best. I grew up reading the "Little House" books. Ma would always say, "many hands make light work". She was a wise woman!

    @Humagaia - Good one! Thanks for the suggestion! I read "50 Things a Man Cannot Do" and loved it! I really should read the inspiration piece, "50 Things a Woman Cannot Do", but I'm not sure I can take it! (Just kidding! I'll read it next)

  • Wendy Krick profile image

    Wendy Krick 

    8 years ago from Maryland

    I have 3 teenagers. We all clean the same time everyday and everyone has chores. We can usually get it all done in way under an hour. We do it as a team and it makes it fun.

  • humagaia profile image

    Charles Fox 

    8 years ago from United Kingdom

    Cleaning, ugh!

    I'm a bloke, don't know anything about that.

    Please see:

    50 Things a man cannot do.

    Not one of mine but fits perfectly!

  • pakpub profile image


    8 years ago from Ohio

    I love the tips for getting everyone involved in the housework. Thanks for sharing.

  • Cagsil profile image


    8 years ago from USA or America

    Hey Lisa, a great hub. I'm not in the position you are in, and I have no children, because it's just my mother and myself, however, I like the thought process you put into devising a system that works best for you. Definitely a vote up. Keep up the good work. :)

  • lisabeaman profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from Phoenix, AZ

    I agree! I usually change it up about 3 times a year. Once at the beginning of the year, once at the beginning of summer break, and once at the beginning of the school year. Changing up the schedule keeps them on their toes! Thanks for reading!

  • Pro Design Source profile image

    Pro Design Source 

    8 years ago

    This time of year is the perfect time to implement a chore schedule to help organize the housework. We just put up a new chart when the kids went back to school. I love the idea of rotating the days off.


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