How to Get Kids to Clean: Our Chore Card System

This New Year cleaning resolution tips post is brought to you by Mr. Clean as part of a Type-A Parent Community Sponsored Post.

We’ve spent years trying to get the house clean(er) and the kids to be more responsible at home. Allowance didn’t help. New year’s resolutions didn’t work. Chore system after chore system failed us.

Paint Chip Chore Card SystemThen I saw a simple paint chip craft on Pinterest, and we’ve finally figured it out. The kids are pitching in. They’re doing chores without being asked. And the house is company ready in under 20 minutes at any given time. (Seriously, come over! Just give me a tiny heads up first.)

It’s beautiful in so many ways.

How it works is simple — the why should have been obvious years ago. Sending kids off to clean their rooms is ineffective because they get so overwhelmed. They don’t really know where to start. The chore cards break it down into a step by step list.

Each room or chore gets its own card. Each shade on the paint chip gets a specific task. The dishes card includes hunting down dirty dishes, emptying and loading the dishwasher, and cleaning off the table. It’s the favorite because it’s simple, straightforward, and requires the least running around the house.

I assign 1-2 cards per kid, depending on age level. And surprisingly, my most effective helper is now the youngest. She’s very checklist oriented. She loves being able to grab a card and compete her work without much adult input. I love that she rocks out the downstairs chore so hard, I can invite people in without hesitation.

20140121-195008.jpgWe’re finally past the “just pick up your toys already!” stage often enough that things are getting seriously clean. My house smells lemony. It feels good. And I finally think we’re getting a handle on raising responsible adults who can handle dishes, laundry, and clean bathrooms.

We have 8 cards, including dishes, kitchen, downstairs, bathroom, hallway/stairs, laundry room, trash, and bedrooms. Step one on most cards is put everything away. Then there is vacuuming and mopping. There is real, live cleaning with Mr. Clean Liquid Muscle (a concentrated multi-surface gel that the kids are in love with). There is even detailed information on how to put away your clothes. You have to get specific with kids. Or it doesn’t get done even a little bit.

This system is the first thing that has really worked well for us. Next, I want to rewrite the cards now that we know what works and laminate them. That will make them more lasting and possibly give the kids the opportunity to cross off items with a dry erase marker.

Then we can get down to the business of purging toys, organizing our own office, and making the house smell lemon-fresh on a regular basis.

MrClean_CMYKThis is a compensated post brought to you by Mr. Clean. Mr. Clean is kicking off the New Year with the launch of a new product called Mr. Clean Liquid Muscle, a new multi-purpose, multi-surface concentrated cleaning gel that delivers superior cleaning performance on and off the floor. Be sure to like Mr. Clean on Facebook and follow @RealMrClean on Twitter.

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