A while back we revamped our Saturday jobs. We created job lists that outline every detail of the work to be done. These lists have worked a little magic into our lives. They have created Saturday jobs that work!
And I’ve been meaning to share the new system ever since because it has been such a good tool for us around here.
I’ve always been a big believer of this:

The “three p’s” of cleaning


1) PRINT out those jobs so that kids can see what needs to be done. This helps them to know there’s an end in sight. They can 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. It’s ok if it takes months to learn how do things like clean a bathroom. We have to be willing to go over all the details and work WITH them in may instances to they’ll know how to deep clean the way we want them to.


3) Be PERSISTENT.  Don’t give up.  Once a system is in place stick to it. Eventually those kids will 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. (This was a pretty awesome idea passed on by my parents.)

Then we figured out how miraculous it would be to print those things out each week. So we did that for years.

Kids need detailed instructions

Just this year I decided the kids needed more detailed instructions on the Saturday job lists.  Why not outline every single thing that needed to be done? So I wrote down every detail I could think of on those charts. 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.

Print out the Saturday job lists so kids will know what is expected

I printed out five lists, one for each child of mine. I put page protectors on them. This makes them easily erasable so we can use them each week.
I 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. It suddenly stopped all the nagging. The need to constantly print out new charts each week vanished. And it stopped most of the complaining.
Most importantly, things started really getting done!
Saturday job lists typed up in detail for each kid

Set out the job lists on Friday night

I just pull those little puppies out of out and stick them on the counter on Friday night. Honestly, I think since the kids like to know what’s in store, they pull them out if I forget. And on Saturday morning they get to work. They know exactly what they need to do before they hang with friends or watch a movie or lallygag (why is “lallygag” such an awesome word??).

Accountability is key

They mark off everything they need to do, check in with me so I can inspect their work. Sometimes this is the trickiest part, but so good for kids to be accountable. And so good for moms to use care holding the kids responsible for a job well done. I think there is a whole section about this in The Parenting Breakthrough if you want to check it out. It is one of my favorite parenting books.

The great thing about the page protectors is that we can wipe off the “done” marks and those handy-dandy job lists 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. I don’t want the list to seem so daunting. I think the kids have been doing those things for so many years 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. Claire had already erased her checkmarks, ready for next week!

Claire and Lucy showing their job charts

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.

Lucy's Saturday jobs detailed and crossed off

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

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

Lists of Saturday jobs with page protectors so they are easily wipeable for next week

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. I mean, let’s be real, our daily job charts have remained blank for five weeks now.

But we’re sure trying!

And right now this system has made Saturday jobs that work in our family.

Happy cleaning!

Some great resources to help train kids to work:

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  1. 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.

  2. 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….


  3. 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

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

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