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Get Your Teenager to Do Chores with Humor and a Checklist

(Inside: Get your teenager to do chores with this lighthearted explanation of “chores” and “maintenance.” Get a cleaning checklist that works too…)

My dear tween and teenage kids,

You know I love you beyond measure, but we must discuss something and I need you to hear me or your mom just might lose her sanity.

There’s a difference between “chores” and “maintenance.”

Why are we discussing this you ask? Well because the other day one of you sighed big and said “I didn’t know we had to do chores today” when I asked you to hang up your wet towel that was crumbled on the bathroom floor. So, I feel that we need to straighten something out.

Get your teenager to do chores by grabbing the cleaning checklist here.

Chores are when you snap on rubber gloves and dive deep into scrubbing the bathrooms. Chores are when you pull out the vacuum and make even lines across the room. Chores are when you ring out a mop and rub it all over the floor. Chores are what we do as a family once a week.

Maintenance is when you – ready for this? – hang up the towel you just used after your shower. Or put the clothes you just wore in the hamper. Or your cereal bowl into the dishwasher. (And then wipe up the dribbles of milk from the counter.) Maintenance is putting the milk back in the fridge, your shoes in the mudroom bin, and your coat on the hook. I don’t need to go on, you get it…

Know, my dear children –  I don’t expect you to be perfect. You all know I’m not! But I am asking you to shift your mindset, even if it’s only a little.

Chores = big actual cleaning

Maintenance = the small daily acts of putting the stuff you just used away

You might someday make enough money be able to hire a cleaning company to do your “chores” (dream big!), but you will FOR SURE have to do “daily maintenance” until the end of time. So, it’s important that you learn that skill set now.

Thanks for listening to my words. I love you to the moon-and-back, forever-and-ever. You are my everything and there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for you – except hang up your bathroom towel.

Love, Your Mom

Get your teenager to do chores by grabbing the cleaning checklist here.

Get your teenager to do chores: here was the game-changer for me!

Can you relate to my letter to my kids? Do you long for your house to remain straightened? Are you tired of the house-cleaning-drill?

And, really – it’s not so much the cleaning, it’s the unhelpfulness of the tween who apparated-Ron-Weasley-style into some unknown corner of your home in the middle of the chores (Room of Requirement, maybe?) and the turtle-pace cleaning speed of your teen. Mix that with working all week and then spending half of Saturday trying to motivate your people to scrub with purpose, and you are over it.

I hear you.

My coworker gave me life-changing advice about a tangible way to keep my house clean.

I was telling my friend from work about our cleaning as a family on the weekends. (“No one is focused. It takes forever. Saturday mornings aren’t enjoyable.”)

“First…” my coworker said to me, “You have to know how good it is for your boys to help you clean.” (She has sons, as well, and is a few clicks ahead of me in parenting.)  It teaches your sons’ life skills, to treat their mom well, to be a better future roommate and/or husband, to take ownership and pride in your family home, and to do life as part of a team. 

(Oh, dear friend – you had me at “It’s good for your boys to help you clean.”)

“But here’s the key,” she continued. “You need to clean on a Thursday.”

Then she went on to tell the pros of Thursday cleaning:

  • Everyone still has energy on a Thursday, by Friday, you’re toast.
  • You go into the weekend with a clean house and that’s so nice.

Here’s how it works:

  • You get pizza on the way home from work, and everyone eats early.
  • Everyone works together with the goal of getting the whole house clean between 1-2 hours. A family member finishes a job, then goes back to mom (or dad) to find out the next job. This continues until you are done. (Set a timer, blast some music and go.)
  • Yes, there are sometimes activities/conflicts, but you figure it out and make it happen anyway – remember, Thursday you’re strong, Friday you wilt. 

So, I tried the Thursday cleaning and experience something clicked in a new way for us – it worked far better than our weekend routine. We’ve kept this new schedule up for years with one small addition.

We’ve added that during the week we also do our best to imperfectly pick up after ourselves. After dinner, half the family cleans the kitchen and the other half does a quick house pickup. (Aim for 10-15 minutes max and no this doesn’t happen every day.)

Is it flawless? Of course not, but no parent is hidden somewhere in this world doing it all right. Motherhood is an imperfect journey by definition. The cleaning routine bounces between great to okay to meh because that’s life.

But still – the Thursday ritual is truly the best cleaning routine I’ve ever tried…and I’ve tried them all in the 15 years I’ve been a parent. 

My sons asked for a checklist so they didn’t have to constantly ask me for their next task. I dream in lists, so was happy (thrilled!) to oblige. 

Momma, I know you’re busy – so I want to save you some of your precious time, and made the family cleaning checklist available to you.

It’s in word document form so you can quickly tweak it to fit your family.  It also outlines both weekly cleaning and a few “deep cleaning” things you should do every Thursday to keep your home sparkling. Grab the checklist and as a bonus, you’ll get monthly encouraging raising tweens and teens emails. They’re free and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Read more about the cleaning checklist here.

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Get your teenager to do chores by grabbing the cleaning checklist here.

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