My Daily Kitchen Checklist for the Kids – Printable

I’m scared to write this post.

A clean kitchen . . . is everything.

The smartest thing I did when I began this deslobification process was to focus on the kitchen and figure it out before I worried about anything else. I now know how to keep it clean.

Not that I always do.

But the thought of involving my kids in the process by using a Daily Kitchen Checklist makes me nervous.

kitchen checklist

Forgive me if I’ve already told this story. I searched “kids dishes group cried” and didn’t find a post matching all of those words.

Years ago, when my oldest was younger than three-and-a-half (I know because that’s how old he was when we moved and I remember that I was wearing a sweater, so it was winter) and my second was less than eighteen months old, I attended a moms’ group. I was in charge of creating the conversation-starters for the table groups. I assume that my prompt was something like, “What are your best tricks for keeping your kitchen clean?”

Hmmmm, such a shocker that I would one day become “Nony the Slob.”

Anyway, as I tend to do, I attempted to get the conversation going at my table by being very open and laughingly admitting that . . . I didn’t have any tricks! My kitchen was a mess!

While most of the women at the table looked understanding, one woman was shocked. She began asking questions like, “Don’t you wash your dishes immediately after each meal?” and “How can you sleep knowing the kitchen looks like that?” and “Don’t your kids  put their dishes in the dishwasher?”

And making statements like: “My kids, even the two year old, know that they have to take their dishes to the sink.” “The others know they had better get those dishes in the dishwasher!” “

And asking more questions like: “How can you expect them to respect you if you do all of the work?” “What does your husband say?”

This conversation was not a conversation.

It was an attack on me. Everyone at the table was uncomfortable (except her) and I kept trying to smile while I lamely defended myself.

And while I knew that I “struggled with housekeeping” and had just admitted it, my breathing was affected by the fact that she was accusing me of being a bad wife and mother.

The two responsibilities that I am more passionate about than anything in the world.

I made it through the meeting, left quickly, and retrieved my two boys from the nursery. I was trying to get out of there before the tears that I was holding back began to fall.

At least one person came to check on me. This attack wasn’t just in my head.

I remember the sweater I wore because she caught me and tried to say something nice about it. I’m guessing she realized how she had come across.

Here’s the thing. Even though I have come a very long way in this process, I still haven’t trained my kids to automatically put their dishes in the dishwasher.  One of you asked the other day about whether we’re still using our Kids’ Daily Checklist.  I was honest and answered that we go in spurts.  The kids do well for a while, and then it fizzles.  When they decide they want something that costs money, they get going again.  I’m glad that the system has the power to re-motivate them without depending on me to remember.

Because counting on me to remember . . . doesn’t work.

I don’t remember to take my dishes to the sink.  I get up from the table after a meal, and it rarely occurs to me to clean up right then.  So I definitely don’t think to remind my kids to do it.  I depend on my experience-based-knowledge that I have to run my dishwasher every single night to remind me to get it cleaned up.

But I want it to be a habit, both for me and my kids.  So it’s one of our areas of focus this summer.  Since I’m trying not to over-complicate things, I created this simple Kitchen Checklist.

I decided (based on not-so-positive experience-based-knowledge) to park myself at the sink to act as kitchen director.

There are three tasks that everyone must do:

Put dishes in dishwasher.  (I’m there to act as the scraping police.)

Throw away trash.

Put away food.

There are three tasks that are assigned to individual kids for one week at a time:

Wipe counters.

Wipe table.


This morning, as we worked on these tasks together, I was both encouraged and ashamed.

My kids happily did their tasks.  They pitched in, and did a great job.

They’re not uncivilized, mannerless, raised-by-wolves kids.

They’re just kids.  Sweet kids with a scatter-brained slob mama.

You can print my kitchen checklist here.

I’ll be linking this up at Works for Me Wednesday over at We are THAT Family, and at Raising Homemakers.
Free Printable Household Cleaning Checklists at



  1. 1

    I have posted before but could never figure out how to post my name.. so congrats on the new site.. and thanks.
    So today I am home from work because it is getting to me.. The clutter, the dirt and the absolute disorganization of my life.. It all started when I woke up to a little boy tell him he wet the bed and a puddle of dog pee on the floor.. oh and terds on the living room rug… I am assuming they are the dogs… (one can never be sure)… So today I am trying to do something… Not sure were to start…..any suggestions…

    • 2

      Hi Mickie! Thanks for commenting, and good luck today as you work. When I’m totally overwhelmed, I generally stick with the steps I outlined in my How to Clean a Messy House post.

      It helps to just tell myself, “Throw away trash.” And then to move onto the next step.

  2. 3

    OMG, are you my sister that never knew I had !?! You sound just like me ! I will definitely print your kitchen check list ! Thank you for your honesty 😀

  3. 4
    Martine says:

    In my opinion your sense of humor and fun will be remembered when your kids grow up more than a perfectly clean house. And you are right, the kitchen is the key to a clean home.

  4. 5
    celina boulanger says:

    you hadn’t shared that …great story and I so know how that felt..having lived through a conversation like that too often

    how are we supposed to insist and demand our kids to these things, when we can’t seem to remember them ouselves!!!! how can i insist my kids keep their rooms clean, when mine IS NOT…

    yet……………………i want them to learn…and not be like we try and try..and i tell the kids we are learning together…

    i believe it will be a struggle…like sunday..we were big…and it was glorious out..and not too hot…and finally not i insisted we take off and spend the day at the zoo…..and it was amazing..sadly the mess was waiting when we got home…LOL

  5. 6

    Thanks for being so honest! I am exactly like this and have had nearly the same conversation with a mom at preschool. (Why do I always have to be so honest with people? Can’t I just walk away? or change the subject?)
    I have heard that it takes a month to form a habit. I always get sidetracked, from the habit I am trying to form, after 10 days. Why!!??
    I love your blog and am fairly new to it. (found you from Mama’s Laundry.) Thanks for sharing your struggles, I feel I am not alone out here!

  6. 7
    Charlotte says:

    I have told you before, but I love your blog, your honesty, and your determination!! I have a co-worker that keeps her house spotlesss and never leaves dirty dishes in the sink!! I told her we needed to combine us into one person and we would have a more balanced person! lol. My plan this summer is to look back on where you started and make a plan for myself oh and for my kids too ;0) lol
    Thank you!!

  7. 8

    I just love your writing! I should let you know that I am one of those “cleanie” people. But, girl, I can relate to just about everything you struggle with. I honestly think anyone who brags that they ALWAYS do this or that, or that their children are perfect little cleanies, well, they LIE. I am no where near where you are with getting my 9 yr old son to do anything around the house. This summer my main goal is to teach him that the kitchen counter is NOT the trash can. (“take 3 more steps, baby, you almost made it this time…”)

  8. 9

    Glad to know I am not the only one. My wonderful Mom had too many chores as a kid, so as an adult she went on strike. She never taught us to clean as we go. Instead we would get the shovels out once every three or four months and dig out the mess. I am trying to creat daily habits to help keep the shovels in the garage ready for snow, not clutter!
    I started in the kitchen as well. I am training my Husband and two year old to clean up after themselves, not an easy task. The Husband has had to learn the hard way sometimes, like when he leaves his popcorn bowl in the livingroom before bed, and the two year old decides to dump it out first thing in the morning.
    We are a work in progress and I will be utilizing your chart! Thanks!

  9. 10

    I feel your pain/shame! I’m also a recovering “slob” who considers her husband and children her highest calling, and I have been attacked like that too by probably well meaning people. Actually, one of them was my girls’ teacher and neighbor. It stings pretty deep to have someone criticize your parenting because your kids keep messy desks, and sometimes forget to bring coats or papers to school.
    I don’t think I’m terribly messy, just average. You don’t have to wade through stuff to get around in my home, and we DO generally run the dishwasher and wipe the counters every day. We just tend to build up little piles of stuff on every available flat surface, at a rate that is faster than I can keep up with. And my bathrooms certainly don’t often sparkle.
    I think those critical people just really don’t understand our lives, because their way of thinking is so vastly different than ours. While their minds are checking of the internal To Do lists they have for everything they do, and noting what is out of place, our minds are flitting to and fro, thinking about future plans, butterflies, art projects, friends, and just about everything BUT housework!

  10. 11

    I am a slob. I can totally relate to Sarah about ‘not keeping her mouth shut’. I think we need to find others who are like ourselves. And as for the Mom that went on strike, that’s me.
    My grandmother is a full on hoarder. Her house is not condemnable only because my grandpa is a neat freak and balances that nasty hoarder tendency out. My mother was obsessively clean. Weekly we were made to do what to most is spring clean. To dust meant to take all pictures OFF the walls to windex and dust them, wipe the walls and put them back. All furniture was moved to vacuum. Monthly all wood surfaces were preened, and wall to wall carpeting rolled up (meaning furniture moved out) to clean the hardwood floors underneath. The bathroom/kitchen cleaning I think I’ve blocked out. She didn’t think mops worked OR dishwashers, so everything was by hand. It was completely over the top. When I became a wife and mother, I was determined my ‘priorities’ would be different. What I didn’t realize is clutter and chaos would overwhelm me and turn me into a total slob. I am working to find the balance and I’m JUST BEGINNING. I look forward to working along side all of you!

  11. 12

    Printed it! This is great. I don’t know why I didn’t think of this myself, because since I assigned before-dinner jobs with a written chart things have gone sooooo much smoother in my kitchen. It just never occurred to me to do a cleanup chart as well.

    I’m glad it occurred to you–thanks for the good advice!

  12. 13

    I am so with you, I have found the answer to a clean kitchen :). Live in temp housing without most of your stuff. It is very freeing, I am trying to fiqure out how to transfer this type of living to home. Right now I am thinking about limiting 1 bowl, 1 cup, 1 plate per person and boxing up the rest. It is not easy to keep a house clean, and teach your kids new habits but I have to try. Good luck .

  13. 14
    Sarah C says:

    Your honesty is inspiring. I feel like I have known you forever. It is like we are long lost sisters or share the same brain.
    My goal this summer is to start the dishwasher each night, but I hadn’t even considered having my kids help… Thank you for helping me strive to get my home under control.

  14. 15

    It took me 5 years to figure out that if I run the dishwasher at night and unload it early in the morning, I can spend the whole day putting dirty dishes into it rather than having them laying all over the counter. not innovative, sure, but my brain does not naturally find these patterns. Some of my best friends are cleanies and instead of seeing them as the enemy or putting them on a pedestal, they are my best resource. It’s no secret to them that I am not great at the housecleaning thing so I often ask advice on how I can deal with a particular issue. They often have a method that I haven’t thought of and I can figure out if it will work for my family.

  15. 16

    Yes, oh yes! I totally relate to getting distracted and it not occuring to you to clean up ____, whether it’s the dishes, a craft project, bath towels, or anything. Aren’t easily-distracted minds wonderful! Thanks for posting so I know I’m not the only one. 🙂 (And the dishes are my least favorite chore anyway 🙂 )

  16. 17

    Yes, yes, and yes – I think I’m another long-lost sister in slobdom!!! 🙂
    Thank goodness that those cleanies who are nasty to us eventually pass away, just like their words and the messes, right? I have one very good friend who said her MIL was the one who told her, “They won’t be young for very long, and then you can clean up the house.” What a wise woman SHE was! 🙂
    I’ll be watching and rooting for you, as I try to clean up my act as well. Thank goodness for dishwashers, and microwaves, and paper plates, and for my two little boys & one hubby who do occasionally remember to bring their dishes to the kitchen sink (even if the dishes then sit for a day waiting to be put in the washer…)!
    The best of luck to you and all of us! 🙂

  17. 18

    Um, that sounds like I’m wishing them to early graves… I didn’t mean it that way, I promise! 🙁 Sorry!!!

  18. 20
    Claudia says:

    I found your site through WFMW. I appreciate hearing another mom saying she’s not perfect about clean up! I too forget to take my plate to the sink after dinner. I don’t know why. I make sure each kid takes his plate to the sink when they’re done eating, but I’ll get up and walk away completely having forgotten to take my own dishes. I want my kids to grow up with good habits, but unfortunately, I need to be better about my own.

  19. 21
    Slob with OCD says:

    This post made me want to cry and go do bad things to the women in the story. All my embarrassing moments involve kids telling me my house is messy, or my car is messy. I tend to get not just defensive, but indignant. Thinking, but not saying “Yeah you come run my life and deal with my 2 kids under 5, an cook all the meals, and not get any support and then you can complain.”

    The thing that’s been so freeing about finding your blog, is chipping away at the “I can’ts-I’ve-never-been-ables” and getting to how easy some of the things I’ve been making hard are. Seriously it’s like I here you in my head when I feel overwhelmed, and I just do that one thing, even though I don’t want.

    The second thing is learning that I want it to be better. I’m not doing this for anyone else. I’m not try to impress people ( though it’s a nice benefit when they are).

    The thought that I had the spurred this post is that the one exception to this is I-am-not-doing-this-for-other-people thought, is that I am doing it for my kids. I am doing it so they don’t have to wait until their forties to understand that it really is easier if you do it right away. They been much easier to train than I am. They take easily and joyfully to the routines of putting their clothes in the hamper, and while the living room pick up is sometimes an uphill struggle, I want it to seem normal to them, they way it doesn’t seem normal to me for the house to be clean and the chores to get done so they aren’t in the way of the fun stuff.

    So thanks for the non-advice, it’s incredibly helpful

  20. 22

    I just found your blog today and I really like it. At the moment my house looks like an atomic bomb went off in here. Idk how it happened, b/c I haven’t even been sick (I am getting a cold now, which is just fabulous timing) so I have no idea how it go soooo bad soooo fast. Anyway…the kitchen is one that seems to get messiest the fastest in our house and I do the “get up from the table after dinner and not take care of anything” thing too. My mother-in-law is a strict “DO THE DISHES AFTER DINNER” person…so I have been criticized for that along w/ many other things in the past 8 years. I know how you feel. But it’s good to know that I’m not alone. I have 2 girls and we homeschool so it is getting harder and harder to get the housework done along w/ the schoolwork…I’ve been feeling like I’m drowning. But I’m going to keep on praying and cleaning and all that good stuff!! Keep up the good work!!!

  21. 23

    I found the tale of the moms’ group unsettling and felt very sorry for this woman’s children. If her aggression in public could make an adult cry, imagine how she could behave with defenceless children behind closed doors. ““My kids, even the two year old, know that they have to take their dishes to the sink.” “The others know they had better get those dishes in the dishwasher!” This sounded menacing to me and I can’t think that her home was a happy one..

  22. 24

    This WAS upsetting. I can’t believe how she went on and on- had she lived in a bubble world of perfect people before this or something?

    Whenever I hear of a nonsupportive mom at a mommy group I go a little crazy. The leader (for part of the time, she ruined the group) for my mommy group was like this-she had one child she rode constantly and apparently did everything perfect and had not an ounce of compassion. I still remember when a mommy with a 3 y old and brand new baby came in late and she chose this moment to give a little speech about being exactly on time (a mommy with a tiny little baby strapped to her chest!! I still can’t believe it!). This was a very casual type of group that just sat around a pile of toys and talked. I still remember the look on that mom’s face, she never came back. Of course worse is the regret that I was not a stronger person to speak out in defense of this mommy. I have often wished I could apologize to her.

    If you can’t say something nice or reassuringly self-deprecating to someone don’t say anything at all!!

  23. 25

    Oh, Nony! That story really got to my heart. You know, I can live with the dust, jump over the trash, the clothes etc. I don’t like it, and it bugs me, and I feel hopeless sometimes, but I can take it. But when you start thinking about what you are doing to your kids, thats when your heart breaks.
    I just want to tell you something. My daughter is 20 yrs old now, still living at home. I can’t begin to count the times I have had to sent her to school with not-so-clean-but-not-totally-gross clothes because I forgot that laundry. Or forgot meeting at school. Or eating sandwiches for dinner cause I ran out of money a bit too soon in the month.
    But here is the thing, she has grown up to a wonderful woman! She is far more better at cleaning than I am, and she has never had any cleaning chores at all. At least not that lasted more than a week. She is so responsible with her money, despite my total lack of it. She’s a very good cook since I always have let her play around in the kitchen. Her slabbing never bothered me, since I usually never even saw the stains on the floor. That obviesly thought her to clean up too, if she wanted clean socks for more then 5 min. (in Sweden you don’t were shoes inside)

    So basicly, don’t be too hard on your self! Kids, as long as you are open with them and TALK to them, usually turn out too be just fine. Remember, they learn of your struggles too, not just the times when you have chores and charts. I bet what they will remember of childhood is all of the fun stuff and not soo much of the…. ‘stuff’. 🙂

    And you know…. this journey of yours, I believe that the biggest gift you have given them, the biggest lesson, is not how too clean and take care of a home. I think you have given the hope and understanding. Life happens. They might found them self in chaos, wheter it is clutter or financle or something else, but there is HOPE. You can change! That is their mother a living proof of. 🙂

    So, with the experience of my own daughter, have faith! Your kids will grow up too be more than you ever hoped them to be, and you will be amazed how much they have learned even though you missed to train them in that area.

  24. 26

    With both of my kids going off to college in the fall, I’ll be left with an empty nest. I am a slob, but finding your blog and book have helped me begin deslobifiying. I just wish that you were older, or that I was younger, so that I may have been able to help my girls earlier! I tried to establish the rules for cleanliness, but I would stop following through, or I would be the first one to slip up. I’m going to pass along your book as a gift to them this year. Hopefully it will be there to help them as they begin their lives away from home. Thanks!

  25. 27

    Wow. Thank you for this post. I am smack in the middle of SLOBville and i was looking for ways to get my 7 year old to help out. I will try your checklist. i have been adjusting to being a single mom for the past year and i don’t feel like I’ve gotten anywhere with it! 🙂 the only thing i have figured out is in which direction i need to go. I was feeling pretty horrible about myself for my messy kitchen, never mind the rest of my messy apartment! I am glad to know i’m not alone, in fact now i feel somewhat normal…and a little more hopeful.

    God bless!

  26. 28

    Thank you so much for this. It has been a struggle so much for me because my place is always messy. The kitchen is the “dump” room. Especially the counter. I am trying to do the dishes frequently too. I have chore charts for my kids, but like you, it comes and goes. I know in my heart if I were in there and commanding them to do it, they would help. But sometimes I don’t want them to. Sometimes I don’t want to.

    I am so looking forward to what else you have to say. I am glad you are honest. It is always the best policy!

  27. 29

    What really stood out for me about this post (and in the earlier post where you mentioned this mum’s group experience) is how all the other women didn’t say anything. I’m guilty of this too and it is something we have been taught in our culture to not get involved, let it slide, not cause waves and avoid conflict.

    I wish I were braver in these situations and would stand up for myself or someone else and speak out and I’m working on that. I also wish I were more compassionate to the attacker instead of being angry or defensive because it is very likely they are attacking out of fear, ignorance, a sense of overwhelm or lack of control and they need a compassionate handling of the situation too, by asking why they’re saying those things and asking if everything is ok with them which can diffuse the situation a bit.

    Situations like this are hard for everyone but they are definitely hardest on the person who is being attacked, so I really hope that we can all be braver in these situations and not let it slide.

  28. 30

    Wow. This hit hard. I was once the subject of harsh criticism by a Christian women’s group because I thought a particular welcome mat was funny. It said, “My house was clean yesterday…sorry you missed it.” It was funny to me, but *not* to the other women. After that, no one ever ate another thing I brought to share. It was a crushing humiliation. At that point, I decided never to allow another person into our house. Still working to trust people after that…

  29. 32

    I love how relatable, transparent, and REAL you are! Remembering to enforce charts and routines is sooooo not my strong suit. It feels good to be in a safe place (like you mentioned to Lynn). Thanks for sharing your experiences and what you have learned. 🙂

Speak Your Mind


© 2009 - 2015 A Slob Comes Clean All rights reserved. | Blog Header and Button design by Many Little Blessings.