I can’t tell you how often I’ve read home management books (hello Large Family Logistics – affiliate), and Googled “Daily Chore Routine for a Large Family” over the course of the last five years. As a child, I was always one of those kids with the messy room who still knew where everything was. I had a system– the messy system. However, I truly appreciated a clean home and a clear space to work in. I think the messy system was more of a default, because as a perfectionist, it just took too long to get things organized really well. Even though I would strive for and enjoy a clean room, I was my own worst enemy at maintaining it because it had to be perfect or messy.
As you might imagine, this did not carry over well into my motherhood. Over time, I’ve had to balance the tendency to just leave it messy and getting it perfect. In my case, running a home with a bunch of kids, my home was not going to be perfect, but it didn’t have to be messy all of the time either.
Done is Better than Perfect
As my children have gotten older, it’s become a little easier to keep our home tidy. I’m not the only one doing all the things anymore. I’ve learned how to teach and delegate tasks that need to be done. Are they done perfectly? No, but done is better than perfect.
Our routine is still a work in progress. Tasks still don’t happen everyday, but we’re working on building those habits.
In the Morning
As I’m making breakfast, I remind everyone to tidy their rooms, make their beds, get dressed, and brush their teeth. Even the 2 year old can help with these tasks. He loves helping me make my bed, and insists on straightening the quilt and throwing the pillows back on top.
After breakfast, everyone is required to clear their own plates. Although the 9, 8, and 7 year old may need to be reminded, this is something they can do well on their own. My 5 year old still needs a bit of assistance depending on what we had for breakfast, and the 2 year old usually still has food on his plate that he’ll come back to a little later.
In the morning, there are usually dishes in the drainer and on the counter that were drying from the night before. My 9 and 7 year old are responsible for making sure those are clear before I do the breakfast dishes, and my 8 year old wipes down the table. Most mornings I’ll sweep the floor or delegate it to an older child.
Sometimes I’ll get complaints when I ask a child to do a chore. Many times it starts with, “but that’s not my chore…”
My rule is: If I ask you to do it, then you need to do it regardless of who’s chore it normally is.
Lunch flows pretty similarly to breakfast. The older three usually are responsible for making their own lunch, and may even be asked to help make lunch for one of the younger ones. Then they have to clear their spots and clean up their mess. Clearing the drainer, wiping the table, and sweeping the floor are delegated to one of the older kids, although, sometimes I’ll have the 5 year old wipe down the table. There are also days where I just let them run off to play and finish the kitchen clean-up myself.
Most days I’ll also have them go do a quick pick-up through the rest of the house. It doesn’t take long for clutter to build up when you have 7 people living in a 1600 sq ft space.
There’s a concept called EHAP that I learned from a blogger named Mystie Winkler. It stands for Everything Has A Place. My older children are each responsible for a zone of the house, a zone in the bathroom, and their bedrooms. During EHAP time (around 4 or 5 in the afternoon), they go to each of their zones and put it back in order. If it’s a day that we also have delegated to a certain task, like laundry, then they also help with putting away their own clothes. Depending on what I’m doing, they may also be asked to fold a certain amount of clothing before putting it away. Most days, when they are finished their tasks, they are rewarded by getting to watch a TV show while I make dinner.
Dinner chores are a little more lax. John does the dishes while I put the food away. The rest of the table clean-up will either be done by me or delegated to one of the kids. Most of the time they’ll be asked to do one last pick-up and then prepare for bed.
Each day still requires discipline in making sure that tasks are completed. However, it makes for a more peaceful mama when we stick with our routine.
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