Got kids? Then you probably also have laundry piles and dishes in the sink. Don’t worry – it happens to all of us. But when you set up a chore system and work it, then you’ll be able to teach your kids life skills while sipping an iced coffee and reading a book on the deck. Well, okay, maybe that’s a bit out of hand. But, let’s still chat about how to set up a chore system like a pro and at least your dishwasher will be empty. Sometimes.
Here’s the main premise of having an organized chore system: Your kids live in your house and help create messes and dirty dishes. So they should have a part in cleaning it up too. And if you want to teach cause and effect, then consider rewarding them for a job well done.
Here’s the 5-step process:
1. Delegate appropriate chores
Your goal as a mom should be to delegate as much as possible. Do you think your 7 year old is too young to do their own laundry? They’re not! Your 11 year old can mow the lawn. And your 5 year old can help empty the dishwasher.
I was flabbergasted once when a local mom told me that she did her kids laundry all through college while they lived at home. That’s just plain crazy! Don’t be that mom.
So make your list of all the chores your kids can do and get them off your plate.
2. Decide on the reward
I advocate paying a monthly allowance based on age because it gives your kids some experience with small financial decisions while they’re still under your roof. You can more easily teach them about generosity, tithing, saving, and spending when those decisions are based on their own hard-earned money.
But even if you don’t want to pay your kids for doing household chores (I know there are good arguments for that side as well!), it’s still a good idea to have some kind of motivation or reward. The youngest kids will probably love a sticker chart. Or have a family accomplishment prize – once we’ve completed 40 chores total this month, we’ll go bowling.
3. Communicate Clearly
Communicate the chores clearly. Don’t just vaguely tell your 13 year old to “clean the bathroom.” What exactly does that mean? What supplies should he use? What specific tasks need done in there weekly?
Communicating clearly will involve working next to them for at least the first week. It feels like a lot of unproductive time, but once your kids have learned your expectations and how to properly do the chore, it will indeed make your life easier in the long run!
4. Create a system
Finally, once you have decided on chores and rewards and have communicated expectations, it’s time to create an official routine so that your chore system will run on its own.
It could be as simple as a white board where each chore is listed and your kids check it off. It might be the weekly sticker chart for the youngest kids. There are lots of fun tangible ideas to create a visual for your kids.
But what we like to use in our house is Trello. It’s a free online list app and we just include our chores on our school Trello boards along with daily subjects. I’ve found using Trello to be the easiest way for me and the kids to keep track of who does what on each day.
5. Inspection & Accountability
I’ll be honest. I’m pretty good at steps 1-4, but this is where our system tends to fall apart. I assume too much. I assume the kids understood the expectations. I assume they’re doing a good job. And I take it mentally off my to-do list because I’ve put it on theirs.
But unless they know they’re going to be inspected and held accountable, certain personality types will try to let it slide by. We’ve had many of these chore-fails in our house. Lest you think it’s all soap suds and roses over here – it’s not!
Want to learn more about how we set up our chore system? You can download a free guide at 4onemore.com
Abby is a former public school teacher, now homeschooling her five children. She’s in the trenches just like you and knows it can be challenging to be home with your kids all day while you struggle to keep up with the housework and educate your kids (and maybe even work on the side!). She blogs over at www.4onemore.com and hosts the Homeschool with Moxie podcast.
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