Family members are still straggling downstairs this morning, but as soon as everyone’s awake and functional we’re going to do our weekly Popsicle Stick Cleaning Session. My kids love this!
Just kidding. They don’t love it. But it works.
I keep a bunch of popsicle sticks with jobs written on them in a “To Do” jar. When it’s time for a cleaning session, I go through the popsicle sticks and select the jobs that need to be done, lay the sticks on the counter, and then summon the troops.
Depending on the number of tasks, we might set a timer for 15 minutes to make it a bit of a race. If it’s been a while since we’ve cleaned, we forget about the timer and power through until all the sticks have made it into the “Done” jar. Sometimes, if we’re all in fairly cheerful moods, we’ll put music on and make it a party. Other times, we work in gloomy silence until it’s all over.
I’ve tried other systems in the past. Marble jars worked great when the kids were younger, but they stopped making sense when Andrew wanted a laptop but Lily still wanted Barbies. It was too hard to equalize the value of the marbles, if you know what I mean.
I also tried a system where I assigned specific jobs every week. But that led to comments such as “But I’m doing dishes this week!” when I’d ask someone to take the garbage out. Oy. I want to raise people who walk into any situation and roll up their sleeves and say “What needs to happen?” and not “That’s, like, not my job.”
Enter Popsicle Sticks. The beauty is that you can customize the sticks for all ability levels but you’re working together. Younger kids might just put toys away while older kids clean toilets. Some jobs might need to be done only once or twice a year, while others need to be done every week. And of course you can also add new popsicle sticks at any time.
One last thing: No one is done until everyone is done. So if I’m still cleaning a bathroom, then everyone else is wiping off baseboards or light plates until I’ve finished.
Every household’s needs will be different, but here’s what’s on our popsicle sticks. (Reminder: we don’t do all of these every week! This is just a list of possible jobs).
List of Jobs
Feather dust something
Polish coffee/sofa tables
Vacuum away room rug
Vacuum hall rugs
Vacuum living room rug
Re-fill soap containers
Organize your desk
Pick up playroom
Wipe off light plates
Wash kitchen floor
Clean sink in kids’ bathroom
Clean sink in powder room
Clean sink in master bathroom
Fold and put away clothes
Put clothes away
Sweep mudroom floor
Straighten art area
Throw away 10 markers that don’t work
Wipe down washer and dryer
Clean the outside of four kitchen cabinets
Clean the outside of four kitchen drawers
Clean out microwave
Clean door to screen porch
Clean out silverware holder
Wash light fixtures in kitchen
Wash light fixtures in bathroom
Wipe down baseboards
De-clutter a drawer
Tidy up utility room
Sweep basement stairs
Clean bugs out of light fixture
Vacuum kitchen (garbage, toast & pantry)
Clean a shelf in the refrigerator
Clean dog hair off bottoms of chairs
Pull 10 weeds
Pick up 10 things in the yard
Clean out car
Clean bugs off windowsill
27-Fling Boogie: Garage (see FlyLady)
27-Fling Boogie: Charity