Nope, chore charts don’t work…

Emily mentioned on Monday that I’d be sharing with you our chore system. Well, it’s Thursday night, but I’m only a few days late!

To start with, I’m going to be completely honest. Chore charts have never worked for me. I know there are so many beautiful ones out there in the world, and although I appreciate the efficiency and beauty of them, they have just never worked. I’ve never kept them up-to-date, we lose clothespins, the kids lose their little booklets–you can just imagine.

I am, however, 100% convinced that children should do chores. But I’m a little less of a stickler on when they should do them. I know a lot of internet moms have really young children doing chores, but that also has never worked for us. I think my type-A personality is definitely partially to blame, but I never enjoyed teaching a youngster to do a task that he was only barely ready for, only to have to complete it again once he was done. Just not worth it. In our experience, waiting until the kids are really ready to begin a certain chore makes all the difference in the world. At that point, once I show them a couple times, they are ready to be let loose on it by themselves, without my having to fix things at the end.

In our house, the chore-doing tip that has made the most difference for me is this:

Work together. Your kids will be so much more motivated when they see you working alongside them.

I can’t claim I made it up–I heard it from some very wise lady a long time ago. It has revolutionized my kids’ attitudes toward chores. For example: when the floors need dusting, mopping, and/or vacumming, the kids and I all work on it together. I tell them it’s only going to take us 20 minutes if we all work hard, and we set the timer.  I swiff the kitchen while daughter #2 dusts the stairs. Daughter #1 then swiffs the hardwood floors while son #1 wet-swiffs the kitchen floors and I vacuum. My youngest two girls wander around aimlessly with dust cloths. When we need to clean bathrooms, a similar sort of system happens. I have not trained my oldest to clean the bathrooms yet (I tried, and they clearly were not ready for the responsibility of comet flying out of the can…), but while I clean bathrooms, somebody rounds up towels that need washing. Somebody else takes cups down to the kitchen (Anybody else keep a communal cup in their bathroom? I don’t know how, but somehow we never get sick from it.). Another two or three are tasked with taking Clorox wipes and wiping down doorknobs, light switches, and the banister. I am not usually done cleaning the bathrooms in 20 minutes, but after 20 minutes of them working, they’re ready to go play with the baby and leave me in peace to finish.

The kids have a couple other regular chores that they all do together (I’m off the hook for these ones!). In the morning, right after breakfast, they all have a morning chore to complete. One makes babies’ beds, another takes out the bathroom trash, while a few others vacuum the dining room carpet. While they do this, I finish cleaning up breakfast and make sure the babies are dressed. We usually finish about the same time. My kids are also responsible for putting away clean dishes out of the dishwasher. We’ve broken up the dishwasher into four ‘zones,’ and they all take a section. And when household clutter has gotten completely out of control (which is several times a day), we all work together on fixing it. Sometimes I’ll make them do this on their own, but usually only when I’m trying to make dinner, and it always results in fighting over who’s doing what and who’s not participating.

I do not have a set schedule for chores. I’m pretty sure that if I did, things would be cleaned more consistently, but I have just never stuck to a schedule. Instead, we try to clean as-needed. When I notice the bathrooms are gross, we work on them. When I notice that the floor needs vacuuming, we work on it. In this non-schedule, I never do any kind of general spring-cleaning type items (wash grubby walls, vacuum shutters, anyone?), but I’ve decided that that is not an area I need to feel guilty over. I’ll scrub shutters when I’m old. It helps that I am type-A enough that the main things never get completely out of control.

I would love to hear what’s worked for you! I just reserve the right to not feel guilted into trying it!

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