How do you keep a clean house?

Clean house? To be honest, having a dozen or so kids in the house makes messes very quick. However, we believe that a dozen kids can clean the house just as fast. Here’s what we do to utilize the man power at the Jeub home.

“Two-minute clean ups” are quite popular around here. The parent will set the timer for two minutes and start it with a “go!” Kids will run everywhere trying to find things to put away. The parent simply monitors how fast and efficient everyone is. When the two minutes are up, the kids line up and wait for the parent to call off who the “fastest” kid was. They get to sit out for the next two minutes. This naturally motivates everyone to move fast, and cleaning a disaster of a house can take less than 10 minutes sometimes.

Our chore system changes often, but there is always a consistent, daily expectation for what chores need to get done. Typically after every meal, we break for chores. We don’t pay our children for chores, as many families do, because we believe these are necessary things that they should be expected to do throughout life. Our children make money for their contributions to the family businesses, contributions that typically bring financial reward that should be compensated.

About Wendy Jeub

Yes, Wendy Jeub has brought 16 children into the world, and loves each and every one of them. So much so, she'd welcome more!

  • http://joymother.blogspot.com Chris

    Wow!!! I like this idea. I think I might just give it a try. This is the area in our home which always seems to take so long. Thanks for the Tip.
    We will tune in to watch you tomorrow. As my kids call you the “Cowboy Family.”

  • Jessica

    I’ll have to try that sometime!I have 14 kids and all of them live at home.Even though the oldest is 18.I think my kids would enjoy this.I’ll try it!Thanks,Donna

  • Allison

    This is so funny! It must work too! I think we’re all giving ear to whatever advice you all have to offer. Lots of wisdom from the two of you. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  • a. castro

    So, that’s how I get a clean house? Give birth to a bunch of little soilders that I can blow whistles at and tell “stop” and “go” at my every whim?

    I knew there was little magic to this “working”. It’s just a matter of giving birth to enough “manpower”.

  • http://www.jeubfamily.com Debbie

    Hey Wendy, that sounded like someone with no children. They certainly make many more messes than they ever clean up, Winking smile.

    Too bad, probably someone hurting from a lack of love.

    God Bless, hope you are having a nice night. Debbie K.

  • Marsha B.

    After visiting with the Juebs one evening, my husband & I looked around and said, “We can’t leave you with all of this mess, let us help clean up”. So we did, he called all Jeub children and our 4, as well, they all lined up, the rules were laid out (for our 4) and the two minute tidy began…Two minutes later half of the toys were put away, all children were smiling about their accomplishments, even ours. The best worker got to sit out for the next two minute tidy and the rest were off. The next two minute tidy and the house was restored to order! All smiles, all around. 6 minutes of cleaning and shazam! kapow! It was like a room full of Voom (see Dr. Suess’s The Cat in the Hat Comes Back). Now no one single person or two (parents) had to clean up, which would have taken at least an hour, by themselves. We have these little 2-10 minute clean ups at our house, too! If you think it’s a bad thing, go talk to FlyLady! (flylady.net)

  • Kristi Tripp

    As my husband says, *we* didn’t make all that mess, we’re certainly not cleaning it all up! I use the timer some times and other times I divide the house into zones with each child responsible for a different part. I’m responsible for the cooking and mopping (all hardwood). With a small crew of 6 plus parents, that’s still enough to keep me hopping!

  • Laura W.

    I did something like this when my oldest was 8. He was my only child at the time, granted, but my husband worked 2 jobs and I worked full time. So he and I had to work together. I’d set the timer in the kitchen with the only stipulation: Lets see if we can make it better – not perfect. And I’d designate what his job or area was. That way he would never feel like he failed when the timer went off. We’d do 10 min intervals and we’d be running around laughing. Then – I swear this is true – he’d say “let’s do that again!”

    And to Chris and Wendy – thanks so much for sharing your story. I have recently quit working to stay home permanently with my children so I am interested in anything regarding budgeting and making a home run more smoothly! I endlessly admire your calm.

  • Kelly

    I just saw your family on TLC last night, and I loved the attitude that showed through in your family about housework–at one point, Chris said, “Good enough is perfect,” and on the topic of the kids doing yardwork, Wendy said something like, “It may not be perfect, but we’re not doing yards, we’re doing kids.” What a great example of how to keep the focus on what’s really important! I need to remember that when my house looks like it’s exploded (which it sure does today!)

  • Nellie

    I think it is a cute idea. If you ever watched Super Nanny she is always coming up with neat ideas like that to get the kids motivated.

    You are a nice, kind family.
    Keep up the love of Christ in your hearts and homes. It shows!!!
    Happy Easter,
    The Kellingers of Chicago

  • Laura W.

    To ‘a. castro’: how can anyone have a problem with kids helping a little around their own home? Be it 13 kids or two – how is it at all different? Making a game of it teaches that taking care of your surroundings can be quick and maybe even fun. And since picking up after yourself is a fact of life, what is wrong with teaching it in a way that isn’t a grind?

  • http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/ourfunhouseofgod/ Alexia

    Oh, leave ‘a.castro’ alone. When she gets tired of picking up after everyone, and training her children to expect people to always clean up their ‘messes’ then maybe she will take heed to another’s wisdom. :-)

    I tell my kids that Cinderella moved out, so we all need to pitch in. :-)

    But they also know that they aren’t cleaning ‘for me’ they are learning valuable life skills that will never be unlearned.

    I know from the opposite extreme. When I left home at 18 I had NEVER once cleaned a bathroom. and the only time I had washed a dish, was in order to serve my self a bowl of cereal. There was no helping in the kitchen… I had to (as an married woman) teach myself to cook. -shame- Anyway, I refuse to abuse my children in that same way. :-)

    Example: for about 2 years I had to rewash EVERY single dish my baby washed. I would simply pull out all the glass stuff, and knives, and let him go at it. :-) Then after he basked in the knowledge that he is a contributing IMPORTANT member of our family, he would run off to go play, and I would simply rewash every thing. It payed off, as now my 7 year old can wash dishes better than I did at 17. :-) ok, long vent. :-) keep up the great work!

  • Ashley M

    I’d be interested to know what housekeeping advice you have for a family of only littles. We have a 6yob, 4yob, almost 2yog & another due in July. I involve my children but I’m not sure the best way to go about it. I’m probably expecting too much from them & I know I need better techniques or a schedule or something! ???

    Oh & While I’m at it… How do you keep your amount of clothing down? Do you have a certain # of specific things per child? (ex: 3 pants, 5 shirts, etc) That’s one of my biggest problems – knowing what to get rid of. (my own wardrobe too):o/ My house fairly often looks like a tornado hit it.

    Thank you for your time & great example!!

    • Lori

      It’s a year after you posted this question, but I’ll still answer. I don’t know how the Jeub family would clean with all littles, but I know how we do it. We have 5 children, 6yo boy, 5yo boy, 5yo girl, 4yo boy, and 3yo girl. Our house is frequently a disaster, but we do try. We use two methods. The kids each have a set chore list. The older boys empty the dishwasher (after we remove anything dangerous.) The younger kids regular chores mainly involve hygiene and feeding our pets. All the kids put away their clean clothes and are supposed to pick up toys. We also have a bead system where the kids can earn beads for helping out voluntarily with things that aren’t on their set lists. They like the beads because they can trade them for extra computer time (4-6 beads)or tv shows (6 beads), movies (15 beads)or treats (3-8 beads). Since they are allowed to combine their beads, the kids frequently end up working together to earn enough beads and sharing. We do not attach monetary rewards to any household chores, only things that can’t happen anyway without chores being done. Anyway, that’s how we motivate our littles and it works for us. We also have a rule that the chores must be done before dinner, we will give reminders throughout the day, but we will not beg or yell. Sometimes their food gets a little cold while they finish, but not often.

      • http://www.jeubfamily.com Chris & Wendy

        Thanks for the tips, Lori. We’re planning a YouTube video that covers chores and how we do it in our home. Stay tuned!

  • Pearl

    Why in the world didn’t I think of that?! I routinely have my four do a 2-5 minute pick-up, which they always seem to turn into a contest of who can do the *least*. With number five on the way, I really need to put an end to that.

    This method will be explained just as soon as they all wake up!

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