A new year. A fresh start. Time to tackle the chore charts again. But like the quote I shared yesterday on facebook says, “No one is as full of false hope as a parent with a new chore chart.”
We all know that feeling, don’t we? Well, those of us who have designed or purchased a brand new chore chart, displayed it proudly with much fanfare and watched it collect dust, anyway. But the problem isn’t really with the chart, is it?
We are surrounded by these tiny humans who couldn’t care less about the state the house is in, have the attention span of a goldfish and possess the unique ability to make any room they clean seem messier when they are through. We ask them to help with chores for one reason and one reason only: to improve their character. Because who are we kidding? If it were about actually, say, cleaning the house, it would be much easier to send them outside and just get it done.
And maybe leave them out there so it stays done.
Sure, you get some return on the investment . . . right about time for them to move out.
Then there’s the follow through. This is where almost every chore chart I have ever tried has failed. I have to follow up and make sure they did it. Maybe I shouldn’t admit that, but it is my reality.
But I did actually stumble across something that works for us. It doesn’t look as cool displayed on the refrigerator, because it just sits in a box on the bookshelf. It does not train children to take responsibility for the things they see and actually try to remedy them. But it does teach them how to clean a room and for the most part, it goes pretty quickly without any of the attitude I experienced trying to draw their attention to their list of unfinished responsibilities.
All you need are index cards.
1. Determine what rooms are a common responsibility.
Here, it is the front room, library, kitchen and bathroom.
2. Decide what needs done daily, weekly and monthly.
Write each task down on a separte card.
3. File them in an index card box to keep them organized.
I have some of those nifty little dividers, too, but you can just turn a card on its side and trim it to fit. Label your dividers by room and by whether they are daily, weekly or monthly.
4. When a room starts to get to you, pull out the daily chore cards for that room and have everyone choose one.
It’s quick, it’s random and sometimes you draw something that doesn’t even need to be done. My kids get kind of excited about it and race to see who can draw one of the extra cards. It’s like a five minute zone defense because with everyone working together, it gets done pretty quickly. In the front room, I pull out the daily cards multiple times a day to get it straightened back up after school, playtime or because we are about to leave.
And what to do about the weekly and monthly chores? I, uh, use those as consequences.
Oh, and when one of those precious cherubs informs you that they’re bored, you can pick up your deck of cards and say, “Pick a card, any card.” It usually doesn’t take too many times before they just find something to do, but their boredom isn’t nearly as annoying when the house gets cleaned in the process!