Cleaning Schedules & Routines for your Large Family
I have found that half the battle with getting and staying organized is creating a routine. So today, I present to you a new routine for keeping your homeschooling, large family on track and ready to face a new day – every day.
I was a kid who loved school. I especially loved high school and college. What I think I miss most about those school days is the routine. I knew which classes I would go to on certain days. When the bell rang, we all got up and left, moving on to our next place to be. It dawned on me recently that this was what was missing from our current family structure. A true unwavering routine.
I decided that to make this work, I would have to stick to the rule that whatever was penciled into my calendar I would do my best to do. Obviously, with so many little ones under the age of 5 – this is hard work. This was going to have to be something that I would try to do to the best of my ability. If there is a child who needs something, I need to be there for them. This routine is a guide but it is a guide that I will try to accomplish so that we can squeeze the most out of the hours in our day. I created my schedule in 30 minute and 1 hour increments.
Before I present my new schedule, first, some ground rules:
1. Don’t start too much at once. Give yourself at least a week of sticking with one new habit before beginning a new one. It takes at least a week – sometimes two or three for a new habit to really set in. It is delicate in it’s early days. It needs time to be nourished. It needs time to grow into a true routine. Don’t squash it before it is ready to stick. This goes for the whole family – kids and grown-ups alike. Give yourself time to settle into the new routine.
2. Start your day with a plan. Be specific. Don’t just make a to-do list but a guide to when you will be able to do each item. I make a plan over the weekend for the new week. I’m not really a schedule person but I do need a routine to at least keep myself going.
3. Write it down. Somewhere. Somewhere that you’ll actually read it and keep reading it. I made my wall chart for this precise reason. I also have my schedule written down in my organizer journal. I need reminders. Weekly. Daily. By the minute. I seriously get distracted without my reminders.
I wrote HERE about how to keep an organized kitchen. If you haven’t started that yet, please don’t try to do that plus this … because it would be too much for most people to do 2-3 new routines at once. Give yourself a break and start with one thing first.
Laundry: I’ve tried different laundry routines and schedules. This one seems to be the easiest I’ve come across. This leaves me doing laundry 4 days out of the week. The extra day (I do not like doing laundry on the weekend unless necessary) of the week is left for odds and ends – blankets from the living room, kitchen towels, etc.
On the day which is assigned to each room, I also make it a priority to vacuum that room and straighten up/wipe down the bathroom that is attached or next to that room. This makes taking care of the house much more manageable and leaves me with much shorter tasks to take care of.
We do use a “Family Closet” System. We’ve been using this for close to four years. I have taken my large walk-in closet in the master bedroom (located next to our laundry room) and created a closet that houses the children’s clothes as well as my own. My husband has a closet directly across from this one so all the clothes are put away in the same area. This really helps keep us organized. It also is easy to fold and put away laundry when it all goes into the same space. Each child has certain drawers which are for their clothes. They also use baskets to hold extra accessories on top of the dressers. I’ve assigned a hanger color to each child so they know where to hang their dressy clothes, as well. About a year ago we decided to label the drawers with foam stickers to help our son who has special needs. This gives him a visual reminder of whose clothes are in each drawer.
I also assign each day a “function”. On Monday, I have a desk day. I make it my priority to sit for one hour at my desk and pay bills, make a menu and shopping list, write letters, write thank you notes, and deal with any paper clutter or mail that is accumulating. I also give myself time to make phone calls to doctors, insurance, and other places of business. This happens during quiet time/nap time. On Wednesday I have a deeper cleaning day. I make sure to mop, dust and vacuum any rooms which were not assigned a vacuum day. Friday is my kitchen day. I’m starting to teach our 8 year old how to bake, so we will be baking some goodies on Fridays. We also have set aside time to do a quick refrigerator clean out and wipe down. A thorough sink and counter cleaning is also on the list for Friday.
Lastly, we do a quick clean up from 4:00-5 every night. It usually will not take an hour. Usually 15 minutes. I’ve set aside that much time just in case there is a larger mess than usual. This is a quick tidy that all the kids and I participate in. During this time I also get dinner going, if I haven’t started it yet. It is nice for my husband to have a clean house to come home to and for us to all have an enjoyable evening together.
Also, my son who has special needs and autism really appreciates a routine and a schedule. He really likes to know what is coming next. He loves to know when the next meal will be and what it is. He longs to know exactly what is expected of him at any given moment. He is constantly planning and preparing for what is the next thing we are going to do. I have found that having a stronger guide and schedule for me has really helped him as well.
In summary, each morning and evening consists of a few small tasks in the kitchen. Each morning (right before breakfast) begins our laundry/cleaning routine which changes with each day. In the afternoon I have one focus which only lasts for one hour. I start dinner and have the kids and I do a quick cleanup from our day at 4pm.
I hope this gives you a sense of how we do our cleanups and laundry routines! I also have a few free downloadable charts for laundry skills and chores by age group. If you have toddlers or preschoolers, it is not too early to get them involved in helping out around the house. Feel free to print those out. Please leave a comment and let me how you handle cleaning in your busy home!