Zone Cleaning – Everyone Helps

I think many of us have been there: it’s time for bed but the house is a disaster area. Maybe we spend another hour picking up so we can wake up to less chaos or, maybe today, we’re exhausted from the day and we close the bedroom door and pretend it’s not there. Either way, it feels like the load is often left on us to carry. I sat in my therapist’s office relaying this scenario and my exhaustion surrounding the mental load of it all. That’s when we decided to adopt the zone cleaning method for my house.

Here’s how it works, at 7pm an alarm goes off. For twenty minutes, until the next alarm goes off, everyone has their “zone” to clean. If you don’t finish, that’s okay as long as you really tried for twenty minutes. If you finish your zone before twenty minutes, you move on to either your “back up zone” or help someone else. We do not stop until the twenty minutes are done. We are a team, so we don’t “just do our job” and then stop.

Everyone in our home all the way down to my preschooler has a job.

We keep a job board in the house, too in case we have a sitter or there is confusion. No one, I have learned, is too young to help. Our youngest is in charge of “Barbies and Blankets” which always seem to be all over the house. My kindergartener is in charge of playroom pickup. The second-grader in our home is charged with cleaning the kids’ dinner table and kitchen counters – if he finishes that, he moves on to using the hand vac to clean up crumbs on the floor also. When our older children are home (shared custody) they’re charged with tidying bedrooms. My husband takes these 20 minutes to do dishes, and I do laundry. We do it every day unless we are not home, and most times we do it when we get home if we’ve missed.

These jobs are outside of the paid chores they can choose to do for trinket money. There are expectations for being part of the family and pitching in to keep the house in order before bed. In turn, they have a mom who isn’t as exhausted and we have about 30 minutes where they can wind down from playing before it’s time to do our bedtime routine. This routine has also made our bedtime routine a little easier. They’re also gaining the life skills to be part of a team that helps one another, to be better at keeping a clean home, and to know how to understand and meet expectations. I also learned how to set clear, fair expectations and to ask for help. We’re all growing and winning.

  • If your house is giving you anxiety…
  • If you’re tired of doing it all…
  • If you’re looking for a way to get the family involved but don’t know where to start…

Give the zone cleaning method a shot! And if you’ve already found a way to get it done differently, I’d love to know all about it!

Sarah is a Cecilia native currently living in Lafayette's oil center. She's the mom to a Brady Bunch of 7 children ages 13 to 5. Married to Clint, her 'environmental superhero', they enjoy traveling often. The self-proclaimed queen of big family travel planning; she's also taken up GLAMPing as she explores the State and National Parks as part of their year of road schooling. Sarah started Real Product Talk, a product testing and secret shopper service, with her online bestie of 10+ years in 2014 and continues to grow as a major player in her field. When she's not working from home, she's can be found serving the less fortunate in Lafayette alongside Lafayette Mom Writer Ali Comeaux and their non-profit, With Love, Acadiana.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here