Zone Cleaning–15 minutes a day

“Jon – Set the timer on the stove for 15 minutes – Ready? On your mark – Get Set – Go!”

And we’re off – a 15 minute race –

Jon grabs a garbage bags and runs to the bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchen to empty out the small waste baskets, flying around the house looking for any debris on the floor – then zooms out side to put the garbage in the dumpster.  He’s back with a broom and a dust pan to spend the rest of his time finding sand piles and waging war with the dust bunnies that love to hide under the wicker furniture . . .

Meanwhile –

Nathan sets out to find all of the wandering dishes around the house, by chairs, bedsides and maybe on the kitchen table. ha.  He pulls all of the dishes to the dishwasher to load, talking about his day. He likes to talk while he works.  Still time to wipe down the counters, check the cupboard pulls to see if they have muddy finger spots and a moment left to clean the light switch and rinse down the sink.

I’ve been folding clothes from the laundry, putting away lost books, stacking up my books, putting away fishing gear, and sparkling up the house.

Beeb Beep Beep – and the timer goes off – Stop. Hands in the Air. Drop that dust pan!

How did we do team? Great! Now we are ready for the day – or at least a few more hours – with an orderly house!

How do they know what to do?  Zone Cleaning.  There are many sources on the internet and with books, we’ve read many of them, the one we liked the most – is Zone Cleaning for Kids!


We found this Zone Cleaning for Kids! Clean n’ Flip at a used curriculum sale a few years ago.  The sheets are laminated and half sheet size. Sturdy enough to stand up tent style.

P1050034I don’t want to share too many detailed photos as to take away from their simple product, but each area of the house has a 2-3 page spread giving step by step instructions.  Clear garbage, wipe counters, scrape plates, etc.  You can use a wax crayon or dry erase marker to keep you on task.  Each week has a Zone Job list – a task for each day, and a space to put another job in if needed.  We give each child a zone for the week.

Right now, one son has Kitchen Dishes, the other has Floors and Garbage.

My advice – try to keep the Training Time separate from Zone Ownership.  Train the kiddos how to do a job with love, encouragement, reward, side by side conversations, no pressure, just day by day guidance.  When you feel they are mature enough to handle owning a zone, even if the zone is a lone coffee or end table – make a big deal about it. They are responsible for it.  They may ask for help of a sibling or a parent with their zone – but they need to bring it up and be in charge.  Once they own the spot – if I have to ask them to do it, then consequences of no electronics become involved, up to the point of outright disobedience type consequences.  So – I try to make sure they are able to do the task.

Once they have ownership of a zone – it is theirs for a week. We found that these 15 minute drills, with a timer, seem to keep the house up to snuff – good enuff – for us. It sure beats the long talks and yelling and exasperation at the end of the night when the duties didn’t get done, the garbage is overflowing and we are washing silverware for dinner!

I have seen too many parents place responsibility for a task that seems simple to them, on a young child, before they are mature enough to handle the job without supervision. How do you separate responsibility for a task in your home, from the training it takes to learn that task?

carnival buttonThis article was written for The Christian Home to be released on June 20, 2011. Follow This Link to view Volume 20 and be encouraged with others At The Christian Home.

About +Angie Wright

The Transparent Thoughts of an Unschooling Family of Boys - Answering the question - What DO you DO all day?
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6 Responses to Zone Cleaning–15 minutes a day

  1. It’s funny how something as simple as setting a timer can make things run much smoother. With one child, chores don’t get divided up too much. 😉 Great post!

  2. Susan says:

    Great article, I think the 15 minute timer is a great motivator and one I need to try in my own home.

  3. Vickie says:

    This is really good. A great idea to getting cooperation. I’m fortunate….at least for now…I can say “chore time” and everyone hops up and gets their assigned chores done. Everyone has an indoor and/or meal chore plus an outdoor chore, daily. They keep with the same chore between 3 and 6 months. I know I know…kind of a long haul but the littles need more time to get to the point of doing the “bigger” chores unassisted. Sometimes, we have to get creative to get enough chores for 11 kids.

    • pebblekeeper says:

      Ya, I think with 11 it would be too confusing to switch all the time. We were doing the switch every day, and one week seemed better. It’s just that the “whole kitchen” is alot more work than emptying the trash. 😉 Sounds like you have a good system, and obedient little ones, and consistency! 🙂

  4. Mrs. White says:

    I love this! You made it sound like so much fun!

    Mrs. White
    The Legacy of Home

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