There are two overused sentences in our household:
“I don't know.”
Sometimes they are even paired together, as in:
Mom: Why didn't your room get cleaned like I asked?
Child: I don't know. I forgot.
Child: I don't know. I forgot.
The first phrase often means “I don't want to tell you.” The second sometimes does mean what is says, but many times it really means, “I'm overwhelmed.” Frankly, the condition of my kids' bedrooms makes me overwhelmed too.
Trigger Memory Systems, founded by three homeschool moms, has created a tool that takes those seemingly daunting tasks and breaks them down into manageable steps for children. The Clean 'N' Flip products are top spiral bound booklets that give step-by-step instructions for various household tasks in a fun, systematic, and visual way. There are three titles in the series, Bedroom Cleaning for Kids, Laundry for Kids, and Zone Cleaning for Kids. In each title, children complete the task listed on the page and then flip to the next page until completion of the task.
Bedroom Cleaning for Kids
Cleaning the bedroom is broken down into 8 easy steps to help your child independently clean their room to completion. Even preschoolers can follow along by using the illustrations. The last page of the flip chart is a customizable “Day of the Week Jobs!” list for tasks not included in the previous pages.
Children are walked through the steps of making a pile of all out-of-place items, sorting them in laundry baskets and putting the items away. There is nothing novel about this system, but having it all put in steps and put together in a colorful book seems to make cleaning an out-of-control bedroom more manageable. It sure avoids those “I forgot” steps and keeps the kids on track. The end result will be a bedroom which both parent and child will consider clean.
Laundry for Kids
I'm ashamed to admit that I went off to college not knowing how to work the laundry machine! It has been a goal of mine to make sure that my kids are functional in that area. They've received laundry tutorials several times, but I'm not exactly consistent with the requirement of doing the task. As a result, each time I do request their help, in enters the “I forgot” phrase again.
The task of laundry is broken down into 7 steps, from sorting to putting away. There is also a page that discusses load size, water temperature and wash cycle options. All the steps are simply explained and illustrated. The only step I would add is to check pockets for items, but perhaps that is a step that applies more to families with little boys. It certainly is an important step in our household to keep clothing and items from being ruined; I've found some rather interesting things that have gone through the wash. It should be easy enough to add in steps specific to your family at the bottom of the appropriate page with a Sharpie.
I intend to permanently hang this item from a cord in my laundry room so the kids can reference it any time they are requested to help with the laundry.
Zone Cleaning for Kids
The Zone Cleaning chart is different from the previous two in that it is laminated and comes with a dry erase marker, making it more customizable and durable. If you are a Flylady follower, you'll appreciate this chart. There are three individual zones detailed - kitchen, bathroom and living room. Each zone is broken down into 5-7 steps over several pages. The first page for each zone has a spot for a child's name and time of day, e.g. morning, afternoon or evening, with the backside having a customizable "Day of the Week Jobs!" page. The following pages are the individual steps to be performed with check boxes. The chart could easily be used with several children, each taking a zone for the week or with one child, doing one zone a day. I had my children work together with the kitchen zone and was pleased with the results. They seemed to like having each step detailed and were better able to share the task. Anything that has my children working together towards a common goal gets kudos from me.
The price structure varies depending on whether the titles are purchased individually or as a package.
Package options are as follows:
Laundry, Zone and Bedroom: $29.95/set
Zone and Bedroom: $22.95/set
Note: There is currently a special offer from Trigger Memory Systems. If you order a Times Tales Deluxe or a Zone Cleaning for Kids and put FREEFLIP in the comments, you'll get a Bedroom Cleaning for Kids FREE!
I initially thought $30 for three small booklets was a bit steep, but I'm all for a system that helps with repeatable tasks. If you are a family that needs charts but the results with your children are ho-hum, this is certainly something to try. These are likely excellent tools for special needs kids who need a little extra help to be independent in tasks. The Clean 'N' Flip charts are great for all ages, customizable, durable, portable and definitely more visually appealing than charts on the wall. You can learn more by going to the Trigger Memory website.
So, has this system reduced the “I don't know”s and “I forgot”s in our household? Not only have these phrases been reduced when I assign chores, it was much to my surprise when I stepped out for an errand only to find upon my return that my 9-year-old son had picked up the Laundry for Kids Clean 'N' Flip on his own and did a load of laundry. Need I say more?