Answers to Large Family Question #2 and "The Best Day of My Life"

Boo and Russ at her special lunch

Boo finally got her turn to have her “Mommy and Daddy Lunch”, albeit at 8:00 last night. As we waited for Russ to bring the food to our table she whispered, “This is the best day of my life, except maybe my birthday.” It was time well spent.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to answer my friend’s question:

What is your system for cleaning your home?

Here are the great answers I received:

Laurel said…

Our Chore Chart seems to change about every 6 months, depending on which big kids are living at home, and which ones are out on the mission field.

When we had more big kids at home, we had a chart that worked for several years. We had 7 big kids at home, we divided the house into 7 sections (living room, kitchen, dining room, etc…); and there are 7 days in the week. So, the rotation schedule was very easy: everyone had a different job on a different day of the week.

Now, we have a couple of big kids, and a house full of younger ones. Our 3 older ones at home (ages 12, 15, 18) have a meal rotation schedule, along with Mama. I create a monthly schedule with every breakfast and dinner planned out and shopped for. So, the kids know exactly what they need to help with for breakfast or dinner prep. The younger ones (6, 7, 8, 10, 12) rotate on washing dishes, mopping floors, vacuuming, cleaning bathrooms, etc…

Mama does laundry for Papa, Mama, and 2 little guys (who have a bedroom across the hall from us). Hosanna (age 12) does her laundry, along with the laundry of the 2 younger sisters that share her bedroom. Josh (18) and Ben (15) do their own laundry, along with Jacob’s, who they share a room with. Most of our children have started doing their own laundry at age 12 or 13.

Yes, we have one 12 yo who is a “big kid”, and one 12 yo who is a “younger kid”. The “younger kid” 12 yo arrived from Ghana this year, so he does not have the background that our 12 yo bio. daughter has for meal prep. We are slowly training our 3 Ghanaian children to do the things that our other children have had years of training with. They love to work, and begged to be included on the chore chart shortly after joining our family.


mama of 13

Lori said…

In recent months my cleaning system seems to have gone on strike and is in desperate need of restructuring. However, one tip I’ve used for many years now (probably since starting Sonlight) is to have the kids fold the laundry while we have our devotional and reading time together in the morning. I haul out the baskets of clean laundry from the previous day and have it waiting for them when we begin our day together. Now if I can just get them to cart it all to their rooms once it’s folded we’d have it made!

Ann said…

I clean by way of incentives for myself 🙂

I can’t have my morning coffee until I’ve put in a load of laundry.
I can’t log onto check my e-mail until I’ve made sure these areas are clean and tidy (yes, that means, Under Control 🙂
1.) entryway/shoe bin
2.) kitchen
3.) bathrooms
4.) bed made
I also need to know what I’m making for dinner

My kids start their day with what is called “five fingers”–hair, teeth, face, bed, dressed. It is so much easier to ask them if they have their “five fingers” done than go through each individual thing.

Same for “check-off list” at bedtime including items such as laying out the next days clothes for school, having backpack by the front door with homework signed. They have to also do a “house sweep” at bedtime which means going around the house and picking up anything that is theirs. They have to do all of this before they can have a bedtime snack.

The kids do a chore everyday and then on Saturday, everyone works for an hour on the Hour of Power–cleaning the house, garage, working on the yard etc. My husband and I then do our ten hours of power. LOL!

Even with all of this, my house seems to always need something done somewhere and never seems to be clean–at least not for long!

I just try to remember that someday my house will be perfectly clean all the time and I will wish I had some mess-makers around!

Blessings, Ann

Signe said…

This is one area that is sort of discouraging to me. I really have to keep on top of things just to keep the house picked up. I do laundry every day. The kids each have jobs that they are supposed to do each day. We also do a “morning inspection”. Before they leave for school they are supposed to have their clothes put away, beds made and their school bags ready to go.

The deep cleaning never seems to get done. I squeeze it in if we are having guests, but it isn’t as deep as I would like. I try not to worry about it too much. If there are clean clothes to wear and clean dishes to eat off of I consider it good enough. The problem is I live in the same town as Lisa, and her house is really clean and organized all of the time. It sets a high standard, I guess I have to have something to shoot for.


Thank you again for your great answers. I love the “Hour of Power” that Ann mentioned; Russ and I got a good chuckle over that. Lori, I had forgotten that I used to have the kids fold laundry while I read to them. Some of my old routines need to make it back into my life. Laurel, you are amazing! I need to come visit you some day and see you in action. Signe, all I can say is that the name of your blog must sum it up, “Letting Love Cover It”. Signe has come to my house on a bad morning to find remnants of breakfast covering the kitchen counters, me in my running clothes, the kids with messy hair, but somehow she must remember that only a year and a half ago I was a fairly orderly person. I just haven’t quite landed on my feet again.

My system for cleaning the house begins with a chore chart that lists each of the children and their chores for Monday through Saturday. Everybody does a chore before breakfast each day. The younger children empty the dishwasher, wipe the appliances, clean the stair railings, and do other simple tasks. Older children clean bathrooms, vacuum, clean windows, etc. These tasks take no more than ten minutes (if done with a good attitude – much longer when grumpy), but they make a huge difference in the surface appearance of the house.

Saturday chores are longer and involve deeper cleaning. The floors are mopped, bathrooms are cleaned including the tubs, grocery shopping is
done by Mimi and Noah, etc. We have eight acres, so there is also a quite a bit of yard work to be done at different times of the year as well as farm chores such as repairing fences.

I have great admiration for people like my friend, Amy, who have beautiful gardens. I just can’t quite seem to get to it. By the time all of the inside work is done, I don’t have much time for outside work. The previous owner of our home was an incredible gardener, so our goal in the early years was to try not to kill too many plants. Since then we have simplified the gardens and next year we may actually eliminate one entire flower bed on the edge of the yard that is very time consuming and plant some lilacs in its place.

There is also a lot of work at dinner time. Generally I cook dinner, although I know I should turn some cooking over to the older kids. Over the years some of the children have been responsible for cooking, but as my older daughters began college, and my high school boys began playing sports, they just weren’t home in the pre-dinner hours. At present, I do the planning and cooking, although when I’m not in a rush, I like to have the middle and younger kids help with some preparation. The younger girls generally set the table and help me put the food on the table.

After dinner our policy is “Nobody is done until everybody is done”. We all pitch in until the clean up is finished. Everybody clears their own dishes and loads them in the dishwasher. The three older boys rotate handwashing while the rest of us wipe counters, sweep the floor, shake off the tablecloth and replace it when necessary, etc. We also begin getting the younger children ready for bed after dinner, so Russ and I are often busy changing diapers, getting pajamas on Eby and Little Man, brushing teeth, and moving them toward bedtime.

I do the laundry for Russ, me, and the youngest four children. I am teaching Ladybug and Honeybee how to do their laundry (they are both ten) and the towels in the upstairs bathroom. On Fridays Rusty washes the big boys’ laundry which they all fold and put away. Saturdays the laundry room belongs to Sweet Pea and Mimi. My washer and dryer run nearly continually Monday through Thursday which are my days.

Our present system is not perfect. The house is messier than usual and the laundry is building up more than I like. Maybe my memory is bad, but I think this is the hardest I have ever worked in my life. I keep telling myself it is going to get easier and I will find my “organized self” again.

If anybody wants to add to these ideas, please feel free to send me me an email thankfulmom@gmail .com, or add a comment. I’ll gather your ideas for a future post. I’ll post my friend’s third question soon – it’s a really good one for all of us.

I haven’t mastered taking photos of myself yet, but here we are at “lunch”.

Have a great weekend everyone.


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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.


  1. Laurel
    December 6, 2008

    Hi Lisa,

    I'm really enjoying this series of Q & A's. It's good to hear what other large families are doing.

    I do want to mention that one of the best household investments we ever made was to buy the largest front loader washer and dryer on the market. I LOVE my Whirlpool Duet machines.

    Also, I want to encourage you to have all of the older kids help with meal prep. Our older ones are also busy with Running Start and High School Sports. But … I arrange the chart and the meal planning around their schedule. Joshua may have an hour at home between classes and sports, so he'll pop the ingredients into the crock pot for dinner. He also does a lot of the breakfast prep, making breakfasts before he heads to the bus to college. He'll make a pan (11 X 15) of baked oatmeal or coffee cake, leave it in the refrigerator, and then the other kids will pop it in the oven when they get up. Ben (15) is still homeschooled, but then heads out to sports. So, he loves the crock pot meals also. And, Hosanna (12) has turned into an amazing cook and baker since her 3 big sisters left home. She does much of the breakfast and lunch prep, but she can also put a full dinner on the table for 15 people.

    And … we would LOVE to have your beautiful family come by for a visit. I know you travel to Seattle, and we are just 2 hours North. So, let us know if you can make it up here some time.


    Laurel 🙂

  2. Thankfulmom
    December 6, 2008


    Thank you for your encouragement. I know you are right about having my college kids and high schoolers do more meal prep and help. I need to take a good hard look at our schedules and see what I can come up with. My hope is that I’ll be able to put together a revised chore chart including meal prep over Christmas break.

    I am loving these posts too – there is so much that we can learn from one another. I appreciate your input.


  3. blessedfamily
    December 12, 2008

    I agree with Laurel. These Q&A sessions are great. Even for those of us that don't have large families. It helps me to thinking of ways to better organize and manage my small family that will hopefully grow soon.

  4. Nancy
    November 17, 2009

    Oh thank you all for answering this question! I think I was feeling especially defeated when I wrote it. Laundry and those little piles of sand seems to get to me.
    One of the responders mentioned having it be one of the kiddos chore to help. Not sure why I never thought about that before, but I suggested it last night and one of my big girls (13) liked the idea and is going to be my "laundry put away" person. She'd do just about anything to get out of kitchen duty. And I know that I need to get all of them trained up to do their own laundry so thank you for reinforcing this.
    Thank you all!


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