Family Chore Charts…Getting Things Done & Lessons learned!

Family Chore Charts…Getting Things Done & Lessons learned!

Bottom line: children involved in household chores learn to share responsibilities, work within a team and become accountable.  We taught our kids that we share everything in our home; “the fun…the love… and the DIRT!”   However, most kids think it’s just a ploy to get the work done!  Which is also true!  But…..until they become the parent…this is how it works.

Not only does assigning jobs (AKA chores) help to get the work done….it also helps adults learn the delegating process.  In the adult work/world, work is assigned with a job description, follow up and recognition upon completion…or consequences for incomplete or poor end result.  At home it frequently amounts to verbal commands shouted from frustration when things start to pile up……like clothes, toys, books, the dishes and more.   Unlike businesses, homes don’t have policies & procedures regarding kids and chores.

What worked well in our home was to first have a meeting of the adults in the home…EG: parents/partners/grandparents, etc. to set a plan for presenting this household procedure program to the kids and the steps following.   This step is crucial!  If the kids think one of you is not “into this chore thing”, they will find a way to side with the “weaker” adult.   Trust me.  They’re smart on these matters.

Once the adults are in agreement, a sit-down meeting takes place with the entire family.  A list of chores for each child & adult is prepared ahead of the meeting time.  Yes, adults have lists also and the kids see that as “fair” and cool!  Be sure to take into consideration that children of various ages and abilities will be assigned their appropriate chores.

A computer wise family member can create an individual Chore Chart template with graphics, their names, etc.  Making charts fun, can add variety to mundane assignments.  Using stickers, and colored marking pens to check off accomplishments add to the interest and involvement.   The creative child can also use a rubber stamp design or sticker to indicate completed work.  The younger set will look upon it as a game or a sign of getting “bigger.”

However, be prepared as most teen-agers will not think this is as much “fun” as their younger siblings.  You might allow them to choose from a list of chores.  Whenever the older kids complained about what was on their list, we (adults) offered them our list in trade. They always refused!

Rewards may come at the end of the week when work is successfully fulfilled or at the month’s end with a special or previously planned reward with the parents or as an individual reward or treat.

With chore charts there is the comfort of structure as the child is aware of his/her work ahead of time with no surprises to ruin playtime or a planned weekend outing. Setting criteria for chores to be completed by the end of the week will not only allow the weekend to be a time of family fun or home projects.   It also teaches children the value of meeting deadlines and commitments.

Children of similar age and abilities can switch their chore assignments (with parental consent) to add variety to their routines as well as developing new skills.  They will also learn that everyone gets a turn at every job so there is less sibling rivalry.  One child isn’t stuck with cleaning up after the animals all the time.

When rotating chores isn’t possible, you may offer to “help them” or trade a job with them for a period of time.

Having a chore chart also means there is no “forgetting” to do something.  Having the chores assigned to specific days of the week or hours of the day can also help.

For example:

  1. BEFORE SCHOOL:
    •  Feed the dog.
    •  Make your bed.
  2.  AFTER SCHOOL:
    • Set the table for dinner.
    • Take out the trash/recycling.
  3. MONDAY-WEDNESDAY & FRIDAY:
    •  Clean up after the dog.
    •  Unload the dishwasher.
  4. TUESDAY & THURSDAY:
    •  Unload the dishwasher
    •  Empty all the wastebaskets.

Families with kids of similar ages may have a special weekend chore solution. E.G.: On Friday evening, all chores for Saturday are written on pieces of paper and placed in a bowl.  Each family member picks one and has until a designated time on Saturday to complete it.  If he/she has plans for Saturday they may choose to do it on Friday evening if possible.  This offers variety, opportunity for strategy and planning on their part.  Teens will go for this one!

Many lessons can be learned from chores & charts…and the work gets done as well!

Authored by: Ann Gambrell

Ann Gambrell is an organizational consultant, helping busy people to get organized since 1985. Ann is the originator of Creative Time-Plus, and conducts seminars, workshops and classes throughout the country. Ann is a founder and active member, of the National Association Of Professional Organizers. Her cassette tape and CD series relate to a variety of organizational topics including paperwork management, clutter control and kitchen organizing. View Ann's Profile on LinkedIn

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