How I Discovered a Cleaning System for Kids… that Works!
I always thought of myself as a tidy person…that is until my four children came along. They were like little spinning tornados of mess! As a mom, you can probably relate to this common problem and have tried many different methods to get your kids on board with chores.
The Chore Chart Dilemma
Organization and cleaning go hand-in-hand with keeping a tidy home. Although a kid’s chore chart is a good marker of achievement when a job is completed, it does little to actually teach children how to go about cleaning in a systematic way.
There are a wide variety of charts to choose from: magnet chore charts, printable chore charts, even popsicle stick chore charts. But how effective are these methods at teaching your kids organizational and cleaning skills?
Disclosure: This post was written by a member of the Trigger Sisters’ team – founders of Times Tales, Pet Math and Zone Cleaning.
How I Turned 8 Messy Kids into Super Cleaners
My sister and her husband decided to go on a romantic cruise – which meant their 4 kiddos would not be joining them. Let me tell you, it’s not an “easy sell” to get people to watch 4 children ages 3 – 9… for ten days no less! What this cruise meant for me was I would go from a 4-tornado mess (my own children) to an 8-tornado mess, for 10 days straight!
From day one, those 8 children turned my house into a cousin’s play land extravaganza with chaos, giggles and LOTS OF MESS! I remember my living room looked like someone had unleashed a gang of wild monkeys. There weren’t any toys hanging from the chandelier, but they were everywhere else. My entire house was a complete disaster zone!
A Creative Solution to a Messy House
Being the right-brained person that I am, I started thinking of creative ways to solve this situation. If these children could put the same energy they did making a mess into cleaning, I would have super cleaners! That’s when I came up with my own system to get my house clean and to keep it that way.
The Kids Super Cleaners System
I decided the best tactic with 8 children was to divide and conquer! I divided the rooms into 8 zones for cleaning. I wrote each zone on an index card with a checklist of 3-4 jobs that went with that particular zone. I then gathered some laundry baskets that I labeled “pick up”. Each child would receive a pick up basket along with a zone card.
Armed and ready to implement my kid’s chore cleaning system, I rounded up the gang of wild, cousin monkeys in the living room. First of all, I told them they could keep making messes to their heart’s content, “mess away!” I said. However, there were going to be some changes. Three times a day, the Chore Leader (me!) would ring a bell that would signal everyone to stop what they were doing. When that bell rings, it’s Zone Cleaning Time!
I then passed out the zone cleaning index cards to each kid along with their pick up basket. To insure there was no miscommunication as to what was expected, we walked through each zone and discussed the checklist of jobs. This demonstration for each zoned room was particularly helpful for the kiddos that hadn’t learned to read yet.
Forget the Chore Chart….Try this Easy 3 Step System!
1st Step – Pick Up! – When the Zone Cleaning Time began, the very first step was organization. The children were instructed to put any items that were not in their proper storage place, into their basket.
2nd Step – Return! – The next step was to return all the items back to their proper place within that room or other rooms in the house.
3rd Step – Make it Clean! – The last step was to clean and throw away. If there were crumbs on the floor, they needed to be swept or vacuumed. If there was garbage, it needed to be thrown away.
Since some of the zoned rooms were easier to clean than others, the children wanted equal opportunity for ALL the zones…especially the “easy” rooms such as the bathroom. To alleviate dissension in the ranks, each zone assignment lasted for only one day. The next day, everyone drew a new zone card, which made it more like a fun game – some kids “lost” (those that drew the kitchen for example) and some kids “won” (those that drew the bathroom). But they were all winners at keeping the house clean and learning some very important life skills.
The kids chore cleaning experiment had some surprising results!
5 Things I Learned from Zone Cleaning with Kids
- Chores are less overwhelming for children if they are broken down into 3 easy steps: pick up, put away and clean.
- Having an organizational “tool” such as the pick-up basket helps children to focus on one cleaning task at a time.
- As children work through each zone of the house, they learn the skill of knowing how to clean an entire house.
- Chores can be fun for kids when they work as part of team.
- Children are much more consciously aware of the messes they and others make, when they have some “skin in the game”.
Impressed with the positive results of this cleaning experiment, I developed this system into a product. Zone Cleaning for Kids was on the market a few months later….all because my sister wanted to take a cruise, and I had a REALLY messy house.
“Finally! Someone made a kids chore chart that actually teaches kids how to do the chores! I never thought I’d ever say this, but my kids actually LOVE cleaning the house now…they think it’s like a game and even compete to see who gets through their zone the fastest. I only wish you had one for the older college student, my 19 year old son could use this. Thanks for making such a unique and practical product!“
“This system is a very engaging way for kids to do household chores….much better than a chore chart system. Highly recommend!”
Step-by-step illustrations make chores simple — non-readers can easily follow along! Simply flip to the first page in the laminated flip chart and follow the illustrated instructions. Use the included dry erase marker to check the box then flip the page!
This fun and unique chore chart system teaches children how to systematically work through cleaning the kitchen, living room, bathroom and bedrooms.
Children love knowing exactly what to do and enjoy the immediate sense of accomplishment as they work through the chart. Moms love knowing that “I’m done!” actually means the room is clean.
Zone Cleaning System for Kids is an instructional chore cleaning system that teaches children how to clean the house through an easy step-by-step process. The Zone Cleaning chore chart system breaks down the task of cleaning a room into small jobs that are simple to complete. A visual guide helps children know the next step in the chore for either the kitchen, living room, bedroom and bathroom. Zone Cleaning for Kids is not only fun for kids, but parents love the life skills their children learn as they work independently to complete each task..