Chores & Kids: How We Do It (including a sample chore chart!)

I recently discussed allowances, specifically why we don’t give our children an allowance.

I mentioned that we expect our children to complete chores to help around the house, so in this post I’m going to explain what those chores are and how we keep track of them.

We use a simple chore chart system that I designed one weekend after having a tantrum about the 8 loads of laundry that needed to be folded. I’ll walk you through my thought process.

1. Even/fair chore assignment. I have 5 children between the ages of 6 & 16. I wanted each child to have one assigned chore each day. My 6 yr old isn’t physically able to do the same chores as the older kids so I needed something simpler for him.

2. I decided to list the top 4 chores that need to be done daily. For our family these are:

-Pet care (food & water, walking the dog, cleaning the litter box when needed)

-Dinner dishes, including putting leftovers away. This is a big chore so the person who has pet care helps with this one.

-House sweep & garbage/recycling. We have tile floor so every evening the person with this chore starts at the front door and makes their way through the main living area, sweeping all of the dirt/trash/toys/whatever into one big pile. They then sort the pile, putting everything away and putting the rest in the trash. When the sweep is done this person takes the kitchen trash & recycling to the garage. We don’t have a large house so this takes a maximum of 10 minutes.

-Laundry. The person with this chore has to start a load in the washer, switch it to the dryer, fold it and put it in the corresponding bedroom.

-Our youngest has one chore each day but they’re a little different. Take a look at our chart to see what he’s responsible for.

I assigned each chore a number and put a key on our chore chart.

3. Other daily chores. In addition to these chores my teens are each responsible for keeping their bathroom and bedroom clean. The younger kids have to keep their bedrooms clean (well, at least make a path so they can get to bed). They’re also expected to do other small things like help when I ask for it, put something away if they see that it’s out of place, etc. These things don’t go on the chore chart.

4. Reward. I wanted a small (very small!) reward if the chore was finished. The children currently get to put a sticker or draw a smiley face over the chore if it’s done. At the end of the week the kids get something extra if all of the boxes are filled in. By extra I’m talking about a scoop of ice cream for dessert or an extra hour before bedtime. These simple rewards are a big motivator for my little kids but not so much the teens. The teens do their chores, however, because they’re old enough to understand that it’s expected and it’s easier to do them than argue.

5. Consequences. Just as there are rewards for doing the chores there are consequences for not doing the chore. I make it very clear to the kids that while cooperating with the chore chart is expected it is not required. Let’s face it, when they are adults no one is going to force them to do their laundry but life won’t be so easy for them if they don’t. Every time a child balks at doing a chore I remind them that I will do the chore for them but they won’t get a sticker/star for the day and that means they won’t get the reward. I’m glad to say that in the last four weeks everyone has earned all of their stickers.

6. Flexibility is a must. My children complete one chore each day, if you have fewer children you may want to assign them two chores, or assign more chores if you have more children.

Also, there are days when we’re not home for dinner or we get home too late to start the laundry so I may only make them fold a load. The kids know that some days they won’t have a chore to do because of some strange circumstance. The kids won’t lose a sticker/star for these days and I let them know that while it may not seem far that there is no dinner for their sibling to clear, these days will happen for them too.

7. A simple, easy-to-read chart. I created a chart in Microsoft Word using the table feature. It’s easiest to just look at our chart here. Each month I move the numbers around a little so each child doesn’t have to repeat the same chore too many times in a month.

Now it’s your turn. How do you handle chores in your house?

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