Zone Cleaning for the Whole Family

Zone Cleaning for the Whole Family
As we gear up for a new school year, it’s important to be sure we don’t let other areas slide…like keeping our house reasonably clean and in order. As homeschoolers, we’re here during much of the day, messing things up as we go along. It’s easy to focus on school and let the house slide…but that is not what I want for our home. I want it to be a pleasant and comfortable place to be. A messy, cluttered, dirty home is not a sanctuary for my family. I’m not interested in having a spotless house, but I do want a reasonable level of orderliness and cleanliness. My time is at a premium, especially during the school year, so I need an efficient method of keeping things in order.

I’ve found that what works best for us is zone cleaning…focusing on a different area of the house each day. By doing this, we avoid a situation of having to spend a large block of time we don’t have getting the house presentable. This is not a new concept…it’s very similar to Flylady’s system…but over the years I’ve “made it my own” and adapted it to fit my house and family.

Before I had kids, and when my oldest child was small, I had a marathon cleaning day every Saturday. I cleaned both bathrooms, mopped all the tile, vacuumed every room, dusted every room, changed all the sheets….you get the idea. When my second came along I quickly realized that it was going to be hard to devote such a large block of time to cleaning every week. I did a lot of reading and experimenting and eventually hit on a system that works well for us.

I’ve divided my house into five zones…one for each weekday:

  • Monday: Kitchen/Dining
  • Tuesday: Living Room/Hallway
  • Wednesday:ย Laundry room, closets, front porch
  • Thursday: Master bdrm/bthrm & kids’ bthrm
  • Friday: Desk Day/School area

You’ll notice that the kids’ rooms aren’t on that list. On Saturdays, the kids do a “deep clean” of their bedrooms…dust, vacuum, and really clean up well. During the week they do quick 10-15 minutes “maintenance” sessions once or twice a day.

Every day, all of us (except the baby) work in one area of the house. For example, Mondays are “Kitchen/Dining”. On that day, I focus on getting those rooms sparkling clean and neat. My kids’ chores for Monday are also all in that area….my oldest cleans the floors and dusts, my oldest son wipes down the cabinets/appliances and all the chairs and barstools. My preschooler picks up the floor so that her big sister can vacuum/mop and helps wipe the chairs.

When everyone is focusing on one area, it’s amazing how quickly the room whips into shape! We don’t spend more than 30 minutes a day on any room, usually less than that. Often, I will spend an extra 10-15 minutes working on something extra in that room…for example, I spent just a few minutes to reorganize a kitchen cabinet this week after I’d finished everything else. Over time, it’s amazing how the room gets less cluttered and all the “problem areas” get knocked out one by one.

This method really lowers my stress. I don’t have that nagging worry about that “problem area” or certain task, stressing out, not knowing when I’ll get to it, because I know it will get taken care of when the assigned day rolls around. Don’t get me wrong, we do “maintenance” through-out the week…we don’t just leave a room untouched for an entire week, never picking anything up or wiping off a counter.ย But we focus our attention on getting one area in tip-top shape each day, just doing enough to maintain in the other areas.

Focusing on one area each day also helps me keep up with things that are easy to let go until they can’t be ignored. For example: wiping out the microwave! Maybe I’m the only one prone to do this, but if it wasn’t on my list, I could easily let the microwave go for weeks until the crumbs and drips would require 15 minutes of scrubbing to get out. As it is, I do it weekly, whether it needs it or not. It usually takes about 30 seconds. When I only have to worry about one area each day, I take more notice of all those little things that I’d be likely to just let slide so I could move on to the next room or pressing thing.

Another plus is that it helps me when it comes to assigning the kids’ chores. When I sit down to decide what each child should do each day, I can think in terms of just one area of the house. I think of all the things I want done in that room to get it thoroughly clean and neat and then spread them out between all of us. I love that things that would never get done otherwise are getting done on a regular basis…things like wiping the baseboards and doorknobs.

I have seen the advantages I reap when I follow this system. Several times over the years I’ve gotten away from it and I quickly become overwhelmed trying to keep up with everything. Doing things this way actually allows me to keep things neater and cleaner in less time and gives me more time to spend with my family or for fun things like writing this blog!

P.S. The zone cleaning method also works great for kids’ rooms so they don’t get overwhelmed trying to clean everything at once. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Linked with Mostly Homemade Mondays, Natural Living Monday, Better Mom Mondays, Thank Goodness It’s Monday,ย Hip Homeschool Hop, Titus 2 Tuesdays, Teach Me Tuesdays,ย Works For Me Wednesday, Simple Living Wednesday, Raising Homemakers, Thrive at Home, Simple Lives Thursday, Fellowship Fridays, Womanhood With Purpose.

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  1. We do this too. I love having all the kids working together with me in one room of the house. It really pushes the idea of team work and I love that. Great tip!

  2. Thanks, Stephanie! That's something I meant to mention, but ran out of time…I love how it promotes teamwork and helps instill a work ethic in the kids. When I was first married, there were so many things I never thought to do. I knew the biggies like vacuuming & cleaning the bathroom, but never really thought about all the "little" things that must be done, like wiping baseboards or cleaning blinds.

  3. Zone cleaning sounds so much simpler than our current chore system and I can't wait to try it. Thank you for sharing this great idea!

  4. I'm glad it was helpful, PrairieCottage Rose! Thanks for taking the time to read my thoughts on it! ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. we did something similar a couple years ago when the kids were small. we drew up a floor plan and colored it according to each child. They had to take care of that area. they loved it and the house stayed clean, so it worked :0 Glad I found your blog.

  6. Came to you via Good Mourning Glory….okay, I am totally inspired. I have been trying to implement a system to keep things orderly–not perfect, like you say, but at least livable! I appreciate your tips! I'm going to create a chart / gameplan this weekend and see how we do next week.Thanks so much! =)

  7. I love zone cleaning. We have certain chores for each day of the week.(Mon- laundry & bathrooms & glass, Tues – sheets, Wed – dust & plants, Thurs – floors & laundry, Fri – garbages) Then I focus on one zone per week so each area gets a really good cleaning once a month. With 5 children, it is tough to keep on top of it all.
    My recent post Hearing God's Voice

    • Jamie, I know! I love it too. Four or five kids can make it difficult to stay on top of it for sure, but thankfully, it also means more hands to pitch in and get it done! I also focus on one area each week to do deeper cleaning. This system works really well when we stick to it! Sometimes we get inconsistent or lax and it makes a HUGE difference!

  8. This is great! Thank you so much for this.
    My recent post Skinny Joes aka Clean Eating Sloppy Joes

  9. I love the system you have described here. I have tried different chores systems and never really settled with one but do find that I tend to focus on different zones at different times during the week. Love the way that this involves the whole family too. Great advice!

    I linked here from Fellowship Fridays.

    Also I just wanted to let you know about a linkup I'm hosting called Essential Fridays at Essential Thing Devotions. It would be great if you could pop over and linkup!

    Thanks for such great post, blessings.
    My recent post Joy in the God of Mercy – Refusing to Be Held Back By Regret & Essential Fridays Linkup 11

  10. We do a similar thing in our house as well. We section off zones for each child and they are assigned to that area or room for a week if not 2 or more! Thanks for your post! I'm visiting from Found you on Christian Mommy Blogger
    My recent post Character First Curriculum Review & Give-away

  11. Susan in AZ says:

    I implemented this method this week right after I first read it. I first went over it with my kids for input and related how we would have to make it work in our house. So far, so good. THANK SO MUCH FOR POSTING THIS!

    • That's awesome Susan! I'm so glad it's working for you! I hope my tips continue to be a blessing to your family! ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Thank you so much for this post. I was looking for a way to better maintain the house with our large family. I had planned on doing zones for each child to maintain, but when I read your method I knew this is what I needed. It was actually something I could wrap my brain around and follow through with. Now from the smallest child to the oldest, I can assign, inspect and we are all working together. The great thing too is when I am tied up with the baby, my children can proceed without me if necessary. I have shared this with others too who are having similar success.

    • Thanks so much for your kind words, Lisa! I’m so glad zone cleaning is working well for your family! And thank you for sharing with others…I really do appreciate it! ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. I just found your blog by typing “zone cleaning” into my search engine. What a blessing! I am a stay at home, homeschooling mama to my four children. I have been feeling so overwhelmed about trying to think of a way to clean and assign chores. I feel like a burden has been lifted off of me. I am so excited to try this, thank you!!

    • I’m so glad you found me, and thrilled that this is helpful to you, Erynne! I’m in the midst of revamping my zone lists to give my youngers more responsibility and adjust to our current schedule. I’m hoping to share more details about that and maybe share some printables soon, hopefully that’ll be helpful to you too. ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Hello, I have not seen the zone cleaning idea for kids until recently and think it might work with my 3 kids (9,11, & 12). Do you have a list of all the different things you put on each zone list?

    • I think it would be a fantastic method for your kids! I used to have a list…I’ll have to see if I can dig it up. Mine is actually in need of revamping now that my kids are older…

      • Thank you! I am interested! I am not a homeschooler so logistically it will probably only work with the whole family in the summer, but we can still identify zones on week-ends when possible.

        • Yes, I definitely think it works for anyone…not just homeschoolers. Your zone schedule will just look different depending on your family’s schedule.

  15. I was feeling overwhelmed about cleaning and zone cleaning popped into my head to I searched and found your blog!! It’s perfect advice and I feel less stressed already.


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