I have a confession. We have never found a chore system that works right for our family. It’s not that the kids don’t help out, but daily checklists, wall-mounted chore sheets, even our assigned chore system didn’t work. This summer when I got together with one of my best friends, she asked what we do for chores. I had to stutter and admit to her that we didn’t have a system in place. She was shocked! But the conversation was wonderful because it really made me find something that will work for us.
Here’s ED doing today’s chore. She chose “Sweep the stairs down to the garage.”
Part of the issue for us is that everyone gets up at different times. ED and I are first up. DD and LD are slower to wake up and get moving. I also love the fact that LD gets up and reads at breakfast for anywhere from 30-90 minutes! I wanted something that they could do independently at any time of the day. Thus, putting the dishes away doesn’t work well as a chore because I like having that done first thing in the morning (ED usually helps with that).
I think I’ve worked out a simple system that will work for us. It’s nothing earth-shattering, but I really felt it was important to keep the kids accountable (more than just, can you please xyz!) I wrote all our family chores on colorful index cards and folded them in half. I put them into a bowl. We have about 25 different jobs, none of which take more than 10 minutes.
Each day the kids have to randomly choose a chore, complete it, place it next to the bowl and place a smiley-face magnet under that day. A friend passed down this old Melissa and Doug chore system and I adapted it for our purposes. I covered over the kids’ names, but you get the idea the labels on the left say LD’s daily chore, DD’s daily chore, plus their music practice is placed on the chart as well. By the end of the week, we’ve gone through most of the chores in the bowl and are ready to start over again the next week.
Probably the key to this is it’s in a prominent position in our dining room area, down low at the kids level. Since we’re so often in the kitchen area I actually think to ask the kids about their chores.
So far so good! I just remind the kids to do their daily chore, they run to the basket and off they go! DD actually begs to do more! We’re getting lots more accomplished and they also still help me when I need help. So honestly, we’re getting twice as much done. I wanted to get the routine established well before we start back into school.
One thing I’d like to add is that if one of the kids (mostly ED) says ‘I can’t…” then I’ve been careful to say cheerfully, “Oh let’s do it together!” I pretty much drop what I’m doing to help her for that 5 minutes or so. I’ve been really careful to go step-by-step how things are done, where rags are kept (as opposed to washcloths!!), and things like that. If you’re adding new things to your chore system-even if they seem quite simple to you-make sure the kids know what tools to use, how to use them and keep it fun!