You can stop fussing with a chore chart for kids

Our family chore chart

Our family chore chart

You can stop fussing with a chore chart for kids.  No kidding!  If you feel frustrated because they won’t help out around the house or pick up after themselves then creating a chore chart just might be your solution!

Prior to creating the chore chart I would feel overwhelmed and frustrated and wonder why I had to constantly remind my kids to do the daily tasks they knew needed to be done like emptying the trash, picking up after themselves and getting dressed in the mornings.  Then the Life Solution Expert in me kicked in and I realized that I was in fact crippling their growth by doing all of thinking for them and taking away any chance of developing accountability and ownership since I wasn’t allowing them to take initiative.  Let me rephrase that….I was the problem and I needed to get out of my own way.

I realized that I had not told them what I expected from them on a daily basis.  I was really wanting them to read my mind and just assume that if I ask them to do it on a daily basis then it meant that I wanted them to start adopting it as a new habit.  I was complicating things when all I needed was a simple Life Expert Hack….a Chore Chart!  I set out with the idea that writing it down and posting it on the fridge might actually work instead of yelling and threatening to ground them everyday.

I made a really rough draft of the daily tasks I wanted each of them to accomplish and made them age appropriate.  The almost 9 year old gets twice as much to do as the 6 year old since he can in fact handle the extra responsibility.  The 6 year old enjoyed the process of learning to read this summer and having the daily chore chart really helped to excel her development.  I also require them to spend at least one hour a day reading and one hour doing a quiet activity.  So two hours without TV, the tablet, video games or some form of entertaining distraction so that they can learn to sit quietly and entertain themselves.

I began with a rough draft list of chores that I thought were reasonable for each child and then set out to create the chart you see pictured with this post.  I made sure to keep the list consistent and easy to follow.  I then sat each child down and went over their responsibilities and expectations and gave them the opportunity to give feedback and ask questions for clarification.  Kind of like what our employers do when we go over policies and procedures when they hand us the employee handbook.  (Yes, I am THAT person who actually reads each and every page, take notes and come back with my questions if I have any later.)

I also made sure to explain that this was to be done first in the day and I did not give them an option to procrastinate.  I know some parents will allow their child to pick when it gets done but I can almost guarantee you that EVERY child will say at the end of the day and will want to play first.  In my own personal opinion this is not a healthy option because I want my children to understand the concept of delayed gratification.  I believe that not teaching them this all important concept will set them up for failure in the future because they will form the habit of choosing fun over work without realizing why when it was a learned and reinforced behavior they picked up in childhood.

Another important reason for not allowing procrastination is that they get to feel accomplished and feed their confidence and egos early in the day.  They get a sort of mental boost when they know they did all that was expected of them in the day.  I am sure to give them plenty of verbal praise and compliments to help reinforce this behavior/reward system.  I also make sure not to remind them daily that chores need to be done.   The reason for the chore chart in a visible spot was so that I didn’t have to constantly remind, nag and yell for them to get it all done.  I stated this in the beginning when I sat them down and I made sure they understood that they would not be paid an allowance at the end of the week if they did not do all of their chores daily.  In other words….I am not micromanaging or nagging them to death.

If they choose not to complete their chores there are clearly defined consequences.  I don’t immediately check to see if they have done their chores every morning as I want them to see that I trust them to get it all done.  But if they are playing video games or doing a fun activity and their chores aren’t complete then I bring it to their attention and I let them know that they have a reduction in pay and they need to complete the chore free of charge.  If they want to earn their allowance then they are free to choose to earn it.  I want them to understand that waking up every morning and going to work is a choice not a requirement.  I do understand that we all must work to pay our bills and we must show up and do what is expected in order to keep our jobs but I don’t want my children to have the mentality that it is required.  I want them to understand that they are in control of their emotions and thoughts and even though they need to do this to survive they still have a choice and they can choose to be happy about it and feel accomplished or they can do like the majority of people and grumble and complain when things aren’t going their way all the time.

I made sure to include extra jobs for extra money on the chart so they would have incentive to do more.  My son likes to spend his allowance before he earns it and giving him the option to earn more money with extra jobs meant he could plan to spend more.  I made it clear that they could only earn the extra money if they already fulfilled their daily chores first.  I wanted to be sure and teach them about overtime and extra jobs to meet short-term financial goals.  I don’t want my kiddos to grow up thinking they are entitled to everything being handed over to them.  I want them to fully understand that their results in life stem from their habits and choices and I want them to learn that from me!

So the chore chart has established clearly defined expectations, gives my kids a sense of self worth, responsibility and accomplishment and incentive for me to pay them an allowance upon completion.  There one last perk to add is that it stopped me from being so damn frustrated and fussing at them all the time.  I would see the messes around the house and turn into a victim of my own demise while feeling like I was going to lose what little sanity I had left.  The chore chart eliminates all of that nonsense!  Instead of repeating the cycle of insanity I now lavish heaps of praise and encouraging words to my lovely little angels and it’s definitely a win-win in my books.

My definition of insanity is to do the same action over and over again, yet desiring a different outcome each time.  If it didn’t work before don’t count on it working…ever.  Instead try something new like I did and then you can feel like a super smart and accomplished parent too.

One last note….if you have older kids like tweens and teens and you have done just about everything that you can to motivate your kids to help out but they refuse here is one last ditch effort for you to try.  You can reset your wifi password on a daily basis if you so choose.  So you can leave them a long list of chores to accomplish and once complete then you can give them access to your super long and crazy and impossible to guess wifi password.  I can’t take credit for this idea as I saw it somewhere online and I am horrible with remembering details so I cannot site the source but I thought it was a fantastic idea for when our kids got older and more rebellious.

Do you plan to implement a chore chart for your kids?  What are some of your chores?  Please share them with me in comments below.