I think I like Montessori so much because of the emphasis on external order and kids taking care of their own environment. I love clean and orderly spaces, but I also admit I do not like cleaning.
Even kind of a little bit.
Over the years I have tried a million *proven systems* and checklists to improve my cleaning, but the thing I didn't like about any of them is that they all required...well, lots of cleaning. I never did get FlyLady basics down into a smooth and easy routine. Even though I do think it's important to teach my kids how to do all household cleaning tasks, I don't really want them spending all of their time cleaning either.
This is the chores and cleaning routine system we have established that has worked well for us the last couple years. I know this is probably hard to believe with a house of 7, but all told I rarely spend more than 7 hours/week cleaning.
Each weekday (M-F) we have two cleaning bursts of 15-30 minutes. The jobs are designated based on both the day of the week and the week of the month. Everyone knows which job is theirs and that we clean first thing after getting up from the table.
Morning Cleaning: After breakfast I clean up breakfast dishes and sweep the entire main floor. During the same time I give each child a job based on the day of the week. Mondays we do laundry. Tuesdays is the kitchen. Wednesday is laundry room and mopping. Thursday is bathrooms. Friday is outdoor porches (we have two plus a patio). I make my bed each morning and encourage the kids to do the same but don't stress about it if they don't (our bedrooms are all on a separate level with a door I can close if someone stops by unannounced). Everyone is pretty reliable about putting their clothes in the hampers on a daily basis, even the little ones.
On bathroom day, for example, Logan empties all the garbage cans (we have 3 bathrooms), Kylee wipes down the sinks, Caleb does all the toilets, and Aidan sweeps/mops the floors. On the days that we don't have enough jobs to go around, I add in jobs from our monthly list. Each of the four weeks of the month have their own special area to focus on (upstairs/bedrooms, basement, windows/washing trim, and outside). We focus on decluttering and deep cleaning of those areas during the designated week of the month (changing sheets or dusting bookshelves for example).
I usually work a bit longer after lunch on laundry day because I can rarely finish it entirely in the morning (although I try). The only other cleaning that happens during the day is dinner dishes which Tim and Aidan combine to finish between after dinner and before Tim leaves for work the next morning.
Now, if we stopped there we would cover all of the jobs that needed doing and my house would look great during the week but not so much on the weekend. Monday would come with a huge amount of catch up which would probably make this schedule unsustainable.
Weekends: If you made it this far, now you get to hear the real secret to my cleaning system. The weekend clean. Saturday and Sunday we don't clean anything other than to do meal prep and clean up so the kitchen doesn't get too scary. Once each weekend, then, we all clean the house top to bottom as a family. Usually we aim for late Sunday afternoon, but depending on what we have planned, we sometimes do it first thing Saturday morning or evening.
Each week we alternate between starting at the top or the bottom of the house. We move floor by floor with a broom, a vacuum, and a big garbage bag. Since bathrooms were done on Thursday, mopping on Wednesday, and the kitchen deep cleaned on Tuesday usually a good pick up and decluttering of shelves is all we really need (bedrooms usually take the longest). When we are all helping (ahem- Logan, Kylee, and Caleb), we can do it in an hour but even when it is mostly Tim, Aidan, and I doing the heavy lifting it rarely takes even two hours. I will often focus on extra deep cleaning from our monthly job. This week, for example, I mopped all of the bedroom floors. Other weeks I will assign someone to dusting or washing windows.
The weekend clean is truly the biggest key to our cleaning system. It is a habit of our family and everyone knows about it, so they expect it to show up each weekend. There is nothing that can make our schedule too full for the weekend clean. When we have out of town plans, the kids and I will do the whole thing on Friday before we leave, meaning we come home to a house that is as clean. The kids see Dad pitching in regularly and we are able to accomplish a lot in a short amount of time. In many ways, we have a weekly lesson in many hands make light work. We also start our week with a clean house.
Scheduling our work and cleaning together is one way that our family lives our mission statement when we promise to work together.