If you are a regular reader, you know how much chore charts/checklists for my kids scared me. It wasn’t that I didn’t think my kids could do it. It wasn’t that I couldn’t find one with age appropriate chores.
It was me.
Any system that we’d tried before failed because of my own lack of focus. As a slob, I had a hard enough time keeping myself on track.
And every time we started a new system, anything from complicated charts and rewards to simply picking up before bedtime, we would go strong for a few days and then the system would fizzle, because I would lose my focus and forget to remind them. And the worst part of these failures? Each failure made me – and them – take the next system a little less seriously.
But in spite of my fears, I had to do something. I take my job of teaching and training my children extremely seriously in every other area of life, and so I must also train them in this one. Even though it’s one that is such a struggle for me.
This chore chart is based on the same concept I have been using on myself since starting this blog last August. Building habits. Breaking tasks down to the very basics.
Other people (normal people) naturally clean their kitchen nightly. They naturally pick up the living room or the bathroom floor before it becomes a disaster area.
I’m not normal.
These same people naturally teach their children to take their dishes to the sink after every meal and pick up their bedrooms before bed each night.
But since it never occurred to me to take my own dishes to the sink immediately after a meal, it definitely never occurred to me to have my children do it.
I have seen the huge benefits of my own simple daily tasks in our home. Making the bed, running the dishwasher every night and emptying it every morning, wiping down the bathrooms every night – these all make our home much more livable.
I began the chore chart with 5 simple tasks that I want my children to develop as habits. They are: Take dishes to sink after every meal. Put dirty clothes in the hamper. Feed the dog. Pick up bedroom before bed. Hang up coat and put shoes away.
All these things were sometimes done, sometimes not. Haphazardly, just like my pre-blog housekeeping ways.
We’ve been using the chart for over a month now, and the results?
How it works:
Each evening, I initial inside the boxes for each task completed that day. If they forget to take their dishes to the sink after breakfast, when I notice, I’ll cross through the box for that. That evening, they still have to take their dishes to the sink after supper, but they don’t get credit at all for that day. Same thing goes if I find a pair of dirty undies on the floor after they’ve left for school.
On Sunday evenings, I count up their initialed boxes. For every 10, they get one dollar. If they have 23, they get two dollars and have three boxes that count toward the next week. I cross off the initialed boxes as they’re paid. The chart can last more than a week. (I do have a chart I made on the computer, but since my printer is now dead/dying, I’ve been hand writing them.)
The boys had been asking to get an allowance, and so this is their way to earn it. I didn’t want to “pay them per task.” If I did that, I feel like they would pick and choose the things they liked doing. As it is, they have to do 10 tasks, two days worth, to make any money at all. They’re seeing how small amounts of money really add up. They can earn 3-4 dollars a week if they’re consistent in their tasks. (Mostly, though, it’s 2-3.)I think the boys are doing well because they are able to do each of these things completely on their own, read the chart independently, and are at an age where they are motivated by money. My 8 yo is saving for a specific high-dollar item, and it’s exciting to see his understanding increase in the concept of money. When we first started, he was skeptical about how long it would take to earn enough, but as he sees it add up, his motivation is increasing. Basically, it’s working because they’re not dependent on me for motivation.
With each task that is becoming a habit, I’m seeing a big impact on our home as a whole. It’s so nice to not have their clothing strewn across the house or a big pile of shoes at the back door.My 3 yo isn’t part of the chart system yet, but is doing well at several of the tasks just because she follows along with what the boys are doing. That just reminds me that I should have worked on these habits when they were younger, but rather than lament my many mistakes, I’m going to go from here. That’s really all I can do.