Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Chore Chart: A System That Works for Us

Today's post is guest written by the daughter-in-law of friends of mine, Anna Shepherd. 

Oh!  There's the dryer.  I need to fold these clothes before they wrinkle.  I have GOT to wash those dishes before the playdate.  Little man, could you please empty the recycle bin.  It's overflowing!  You did it the last two days?  Hey!  Who's turn is it to empty the can?  Oh yeah, fold laundry.  Could someone please load the dishwasher for me?  Where's your sister?  I can't think about dinner yet.


I am a homeschooling mother of four (6,7,10,11), and I am NOT a naturally organized person... on top of being a little A.D.D.   I crave organization (who's with me)!  Everything in a common-sense place, all laundry folded and put away, no clutter.  For YEARS I struggled with a practical plan to get close to my grand goal.  But there are so many people living in this house!  Is it possible to have chores done well by little ones?  It may be easier to just do it all myself, but should I?  I found myself relying too heavily on the "helpful" child, while the baby and the easily distracted children ended up doing less than their fair share.  How frustrating for the "helpful" child.  How wrong of me, when God is trusting me to rear FOUR future adults with character.  


My husband and I truly believe that chores are important for a child's character development.  They learn good work ethic, responsibility... and maybe get to earn some money (earn being the key word).  I needed to find some way to delegate age appropriate chores.. with the kids receiving accountability for the chore to get completed... and motivation to do their best.  I looked in stores for a workable chore chart--they were either designed for one child, pre-filled in with standard chores, or in some way simply "not what I was looking for".

At the beginning of last summer I decided to just make my own using a large piece of poster board, some index cards, glue, and markers.  I glued white index cards (on three sides) to the poster board to make about 20 pockets.  On each of the pockets I wrote chores like:
  • Take laundry to laundry room
  • Put books on bookshelf
  • Take out garbage
  • Empty dishwasher  

Things the kids could DO, and do well.   At the bottom of the poster board, I made a pocket with each of my kid's names on it.  I found some smaller, colorful index cards  and wrote Aaron, Austin, Ally, and Aiden on their colored cards.  Guess who's pink?   Last pocket had blue "Done" cards!  


Now, let's get organized.

The first morning, I took the kids' name cards and stuck them in all the pockets.  Some chore pockets like "clean your room" got all of their names.  They were under strict orders to only ever touch their name cards. (This taught them personal responsibility).  When a chore was finished, the child was to take out their name card and replace it with a "done" card. 

They were excited!  It's kind of fun for them to see their names on something, and it sure felt good to show mommy a chart full of blue "done" cards, especially when the "clean your room" chore pocket got all of their names eventually traded for four "done" cards.  


The beauty of this little system is the elimination of, "He's not helping!  He's shoving all his stuff to my side of the room!"  When they cleaned up all mess that belonged to them, they were free!  Everyone had to carry their weight and be accountable to ME!  

Now for the accountability part:  When each child finished all their chores, I double checked that they had been done well. It's important for kids to value doing a quality job.  The kind of kid they are is the kind of adult they will be.   


It took two weeks before "the baby" realized that doing it "well" mattered.  If the chores were done well, I'd give the child a point for the day.  10 points = $5.  "You know what, kids, when daddy doesn't do a good job, he doesn't get paid; a man is worth his wages."  That's life... in capitalism.


One more tip:  I originally set up the chart rotating the kids from chore to chore every day.  That was a bad idea.  Ha! Within the first few days I noticed a trend of all the kids finishing their chores to earn a point, but making no effort to maintain the organization.  Why should they work above and beyond if the sibling tomorrow would have to pick up their slack? If you've ever worked in an environment like this, you can understand that this built resentment.  


Week 2, the rules changed.  Each child would be doing the same group of chores for the whole week.  It then behoved them to keep caught up, to not let the garbage can overflow or the bunny's water bottle empty completely.   

This system works for us (for now).  Maybe it will get you thinking about what would work for you! There IS a plan for organization that will fit your family!   "But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.James 1:5 (my favorite "parenting" verse)  

Okay, now it's time to think about dinner...

Anna Shepherd has been  married for 12 years to a charming, godly, outdoorsy man.  They're both "foodies", so love to cook together (and experiment).  Cooking is fun; the dishes that it produces are not fun.   Their family vacations by camping/fishing; they're so blessed to live within easy driving distance of the beach, the Redwoods, the snow in Tahoe, Lavabed tunnels, model rocket launching events...



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Did you know that there are entire cultures that are happier than other cultures mainly because they teach their children to work? Learn about this and many other ways your family can connect at mealtimes in my book Around the Table. What do mealtime and chores have to do with each other? How about setting the table, clearing the table, washing the dishes, sweeping the floor!

Get a Conversation Starter question each week night by *liking* the Around the Table Facebook page! 

13 comments:

  1. I LOVE this idea! I also am a home school mom and lives in house with a hubby and 5 sons (ages 10 -24). I think this chart idea will make my life a lot easier, no matter how old my boys are. :)
    Thanks for sharing!
    Brenda

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  2. Looks like a great system! I like that it is all visible, and easily managed by the children themselves. We do a monthly rotation around here. That gives them time to learn the responsibility, plus master the skills needed for various chores. Thanks for sharing!

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  3. Wonderful idea! I told my kids (age 15,11)they are doing the cooking during the summer. Well, 2 days and they seem to be fizzling out. So funny because when I ask them do they want something to eat, they say no. It's amazing how less hungry they are when they have to cook themselves. Hope they don't starve before the summer is over. LOL.

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  4. Looks like a good system for when kids get a little older (then mine), so we may have to try! Thanks for sharing at Mom's Library!

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  5. Great ideas! I'm sure the kids love being able to move the cards themselves! :)

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  6. I am always looking for a way to 'up the ante' for my 5 year old. I'm pinning this for an idea for the next time I have to do that. :)

    Thanks so much for sharing this idea at Diana Rambles!!

    -Kim
    Co-host of Diana Rambles' linky party

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  7. Great idea. I love the idea of the kids having access to the chores. They can look at the list and know whether they are done or not. I will be getting back to homeschooling my middle two kids this fall.

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  8. Thank you for joining The Mixer <3
    #MTMmixer

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  9. What a great idea. Since we don't have little ones anymore I will pass this idea along to the Mom that does. I will say for myself, having a To Do List makes me MUCH more productive. There is something about checking things off that keeps me motivated. Just stopping by from the GRAND Social Linky Party. Hope you get a chance to do the same!

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  10. Pinned and featured!! Thanks for linking. Linda

    http://www.craftsalamode.com/2013/06/what-to-do-weekends-25.html

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  11. Chores are very needed for little ones. Breaking it down into manageable sizes makes it work well for them! Thanks for linking with me :)

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