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Saturday jobs that work

by Shawni
A while back we revamped our Saturday jobs.
And I’ve been meaning to share the new system ever since because it works!
I’ve always been a big believer of what I call the “three P’s” of cleaning:   
1) PRINT out those jobs so that kids can see what needs to be done…it helps to know there’s an end in sight and to see the whole picture of what’s expected.
2) Have PATIENCE.  It takes a long, long time to teach kids to do jobs the right way, and to stay calm through all the complaining.  It helps to remember these kids are young, and it’s ok if it takes months to learn how do things like clean a bathroom.
3) Be PERSISTENT.  Don’t give up.  Once a system is in place stick to it so those kids know that’s just “what we do,” and we may as well just get it done.

I’m here to say that after eighteen years of mothering the job thing needs to be tweaked and tweaked over and over again.  But I love having a system in place that I can work from.

For years we had long lists of Saturday jobs I would write down according to what needed to be done.  I’d draw my little circles for the kids to fill them in as they go (something passed on by my dad when I was young).

Then we figured out how miraculous it would be to print those things out each week, which we did for years.
Just this year I decided the kids needed more detailed instructions so I wrote down every detail I could think of, things like cleaning out the trash can after you take out the trash or washing inside the microwave, not just the outside, etc.  (since my kids are “old” now they can handle more details).
I printed out five lists, put page protectors on them, and assigned each child one list each month.  At the beginning of the next month I erased those names and rotated the jobs.  
I know that seems simple, but it was revolutionary for me because it stopped all the nagging, stopped the weekly need to print them out, stopped most of the complaining, and things get done.

I just pull those little puppies out of out and stick them on the counter on Friday night (or the kids pull them out if I forget) and they get to work knowing exactly what they need to do before they hang with friends or watch a movie or lallygag (why is “lallygag” such an awesome word??).

They mark off everything they need to do, check in with me so I can inspect their work, and then we wipe off their marks and they are ready for next week.

***note: These lists don’t include their bedroom and bathroom jobs they do automatically now.  Sometimes I think I should write all those down too, but I don’t want the list to seem so daunting and they have been doing those things for so many years I think their bodies go into auto-clean mode on those things by now.

Claire and Lu were the only ones around when I pulled my camera out the other day, so here they are all smiles that they finished (although I already erased claire’s check-offs that day).

At first Lucy’s jobs stayed the same, and her list was a little shorter because I’m trying to make sure she’s trained properly.

 She’s getting pretty darn good at her original list so I am starting to train her on another list.

I still need to tweak these lists…some still need more details, but man it’s making our Saturdays pretty awesome.

Teaching kids to work is a tough job.  But once they start to get things down it feels a little bit like magic to me.  Sure, as soon as I feel like I’ve got things down to a science everything falls apart and we have to re-vamp (take our daily job charts for instance that have remained blank for five weeks…).

But right now this system is a little dreamy to me so I figured I’d share.

Happy cleaning!

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Susan September 22, 2015 - 7:30 pm

I love this idea…thanks for sharing

dresselfamily.blogspot.com September 22, 2015 - 7:48 pm

I love this and need to put it yo work right away!

Donna September 22, 2015 - 8:54 pm

Our counsellors (17-22 year olds) at camp have chores and it's always been a struggle to make sure that the chores got done thoroughly and the same no matter which of the 16 counsellors were on that chore. We started making checklists for each chore and it made a HUGE difference! This summer we tweaked it even more to include which supplies to use to make things even more consistent.

Anonymous September 22, 2015 - 9:22 pm

This is a really good idea. Couple of questions. Hopefully you will take the time to answer them. Forgive me if you already have in the past – I'm rather new.

1) Do they get paid for doing these jobs?

2) Am I reading correctly – you have a sink in your pantry? Isn't a pantry more of a large kitchen closet?

3) What kind of room is a "bedroom foyer" – as shown in one of the pics? Or is it 2 rooms? Bedroom and foyer?

4) What is the significance of the letters C and E beside some of the rooms in the last pic. I thought it might be Elle's or Claire's initial – but it's the wrong initial for the wrong child….


Nora September 22, 2015 - 10:26 pm

I do wish I'd had your blog when my kids were little.

Now watch me teach my college-aged son how to clean a bathroom!

Holly Decker September 22, 2015 - 10:35 pm

i love this post. i love this blog. i love motherhood!
thanks Shawni for inspiring me to be a deliberate mother and for keepin' it real! xo

Lindsay Herkert September 23, 2015 - 2:10 am

Thank you for sharing! Your blog/mothering style is an inspiration to me!

Mom of 7 September 23, 2015 - 5:32 am

We have been doing Zones ever since I read the entitlement trap (love love love that book)…..We change them every 6 months and they have found the more they keep their areas clean the quicker they are to the fun on Saturday here also. We also have a Winter and Summer DEEP clean list which they are getting better and better at doing….THANK YOU for your ideas and your blog….You are an inspiration!! =D

Karen Hunt September 23, 2015 - 4:14 pm

Earlier this spring I had a "proud mommy moment". I received an email from the senior couple serving in the mission office in my son's mission. He had just arrived to be the new assistant. They wrote and said, "the first thing your son did when he arrived was to clean the AP's office. After that he deep cleaned his missionary apartment. Congratulations! You've raised a son who knows how to clean." I guess all those years of Saturday morning cleaning jobs did pay off!

Tracy September 24, 2015 - 8:55 pm

I wish I had done better at this when my kids were younger!

I would love to see pictures of your home gym!

Sweety September 28, 2015 - 11:39 am Reply
Brooke Higgins October 8, 2015 - 12:13 pm

In my point of view, writing the tasks on a paper and putting them on the wall or something else is an effective way to remind the children about their responsibilities. luton meet and greet parking

Maya Alexander October 9, 2015 - 7:43 am

Great Idea. The inspected works are great for a better change in the routine of kids.
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Anthony Morales April 25, 2017 - 4:23 pm

This is a FANTASTIC idea! I'd love to do this with my two boys.

Would you share a copy of each (all 5) paper?
I would like to piggyback off your idea and tailor to our home needs.

burri 69 January 22, 2018 - 11:12 am

In the world of blog writing, this blog truly deserves to be called the best.


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