We have all been there. You look around and the house is a mess.
You can’t remember the last time the dishes were caught up. Does the vacuum even work anymore?
In that moment, it’s all overwhelming. You sit down and have a good cry.
Afterwards, for some unknown reason, you feel a little better.
Someday, you are sure, the house will be clean again and life will feel sane.
The hope is encouraging and now you are motivated. Motivated to make it happen…the kids, those who make all these messes, WILL learn to help around the house gosh darn it.
So, you do what all good moms do, you google chore charts.
When you google chore charts, a plethora of pretty choices pop up.
There are Sponge Bob charts and Star Wars ones. Party themes (I do love the idea that chores are a party!) and rainbows. Colors and lists in abundance with cute boxes to check, rows and rows and rows of boxes.
These detailed daily lists of boxes to check have their advantages and are helpful in many instances. We have used them with success for short times or to improve specific habits.
However, with time, the detailed list gets cumbersome. It gets old.
It comes to a point where the daily list is not needed. How long do we need a box to remind us to put our underwear in the dirty clothes basket? (I guess some of us still do.)
The list gets ignored and is not completed anyway. (See opening paragraph.)
Sometimes you just need to switch things up.
What We are Using Instead of a Checklist
We have been using a simple alternative to the daily checklist chore chart that is working well for us.
I have found that I am nagging less, the kids are taking more initiative in completing their helper jobs, and the house is staying tidier. (If you haven’t read why we call them helper jobs instead of chores, check this out.)
My sister nailed down the principles of why our systems are working, and I wrote about that last post. There are countless ways to apply those principles to a system, and today I am sharing two different visuals.
Simple, Functional DIY Chore Chart #1
It is so simple it may be laughable.
But. It. Works.
How the System Works
I divided the jobs I wanted included on the chart into three different categories as we have three Little Helpers right now: Floors, Bathrooms, Mommy’s Helper (I choose the jobs).
Each category also includes Fold Laundry and Keep Bedroom Clean for a total of five jobs.
I printed the categories and slipped it into a page protector to serve as lamination. (My favorite trick!)
At the beginning of the week, the kids write their names on the lines, and we rotate categories each week.
The kids are responsible for completing the jobs within their category by the end of the week.
There is no screen time during the week until at least one Helper Job has been completed that day. (This applies when screen time might be an option. We choose to only have screen time some days.)
There is no play on Saturday until the week’s jobs are all completed.
What I Love about This Chart
- If individuals or the family have a busy day, there is no pressure to do jobs that day. On the other hand, if a day has more time available, kids can complete a lot of their jobs at once. It just makes sense.
- Kids get to choose when and what order they complete the jobs.
- Everyone gets all their jobs done because their Saturday fun doesn’t happen until then. No bribing. No punishing. That’s just the way things work around here.
- A note: As with just about anything in parenting, consistency matters. If Saturday rolls around and you let the kids go play with friends even if jobs aren’t done, good luck next week. Let kids miss out on a fun activity or two, and they’ll understand that you mean what you say. Voila, the jobs magically get done!
- Week to week the responsibilities change. This means I am not nagging about the least favorite job. Kids only have to do it this week and then they get a break for a couple weeks.
- Mom’s Choice
- I love this! I get done what I feel actually needs to be done that day.
- Some ideas: dusting blinds, scrubbing tub, organizing toys, cleaning a closet…the options are limitless! Go, dream of your spotless castle! 😉
- It also provides opportunity for the kids to learn all different household helping skills.
- Sheer Simplicity
- The kids enjoy the dry erase, and it has super low-key maintenance. Interaction with the chart is minimal so it doesn’t take over our lives.
- You can make it and start TODAY.
My sister is using another system that she loves, also without the daily checklist.
Simple, Fun Helper Job System #2
How the System Works
Each of the kids decorated their own pocket on the apron.
Mom decided which general jobs she wanted the kids to help with, such as sweeping or scrubbing a floor.
The kids wrote (with help if needed) each of those jobs on a craft stick. They decorated all their craft sticks, making them easy to keep apart.
At the beginning of each week, the craft sticks are placed in the apron.
As kids complete jobs, they move that particular stick from their personal pocket into the finished pocket.
In conjunction with mom, kids help decide which specific job to do. For example, if a child notices the kitchen floor is dirty, they can sweep it and then move their “Sweep” stick. Mom could also say, “The playroom needs to be vacuumed. Who wants to do it?”
By the end of the week, all the jobs need to be finished.
What I Love about This System
- Kids can complete as many or as few jobs as they want in a single day. Again, this accounts for the diverse nature of real life.
- Kids get to help choose which jobs to complete and on which days.
- Everyone gets the same number of jobs done during the week. Saturday is used as a work day if needed instead of doing other fun things.
- The sticks and pockets are simply fun. It caught my eye!
- Kids complete different specific jobs each week. They might scrub the kitchen one week and the basement another. Mom could also say, “We’re all doing a job right now. Pick a stick with your eyes closed.”
- Mom’s Choice
- The money-maker shows up again. 🙂 Get done what you need when you need it. It’s like your own personal assistant.
- Kid Involvement
- The kids are wholly involved in the process of making the system. They get to apply their creativity and see it used every week. They have some ownership in the system. And did you see that artwork?! I have some very talented nieces and nephews.
As I mentioned, there are endless ways to create systems that help our kids actually accomplish their household helper responsibilities.
Whether you are not currently using a system or need a little variety in your life, I hope these examples are helpful for you.
Mix things up until you find a system that you like. I hope you are able to find what works well for your family. Maybe then, our hopes of a clean house (at least cleaner) can become a reality (at least for the moment!).
More importantly, our children will develop helpful habits and experience the joy that results from being contributing members of the household.
Good luck to you and your little helpers!
Leave a comment to let me know. I love hearing from you!
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On a side note, we gave Little #3 a lobby broom and dustpan for Christmas this year. He loves using it because it stays standing by itself and it is just his size. Now he can sweep the floors all by himself, which (to my great pleasure) HE thinks is awesome! 😉
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