When do kids get chores? Do you pay them? How do you set the standard for doing a “good” job? What’s good enough?
As our kids leave baby-hood and begin toddling around after us, the question of chores is inevitable. It’s even one of the questions our pediatrician asks my kids in their annual well-check. “Do you have any jobs you do around the house? What are they?” Please, I silently pray, tell him you do. Help Mommy look good here, boys!
Over the years I have tried about two hundred different methods for assigning chores. I tried one of those store-bought charts for the side of the fridge. I tried setting certain chores for certain days. I tried customizing the list of chores and printing them out at the beginning of the week. None of these were particularly effective for us.
The trouble all boils down to the fact that I simply do not know, on Sunday night, which day I’ll need help folding laundry or watering the plants. In my ideal dream-land, I would mop on Monday, cook ahead on Wednesday, and fold on Friday, but this NEVER actually happens. I plan to mop, but a friend calls for lunch. Discipline? Well, I have lots of it, but not enough to choose mopping over lunch with a friend. Seriously, I have my priorities! I plan to cook and freeze, but I don’t have all the ingredients, so I make a list and it’s so daunting I decide just to grill brats or chicken, instead. And folding, well, who wants to fold? I just try to avoid it.
That said, chores are a part of life for just about all of us, and my boys don’t get a vote in whether they’ll have them, they just will. So after many missteps, I have finally found a method that works for us, and maybe it will work for you, too. But if not, take heart. Check here and here for more ideas—remember, this was not my first try!
FIVE STEPS TO A CLEANER HOUSE: CHORES FOR KIDS
One: Buy a big sheet of posterboard in a color you like. You’ll be looking at it often. I think the baby blue is nice.
Two: Buy one of those clear rolls of contact paper. You’ll use this to laminate your chore cards.
Three: Cut your posterboard into small rectangles & use a sharpie marker to write one chore on each rectangle. I also tried (tried!) to DRAW a picture of the chore, since my youngest was only about 2 or 3 when I made my cards.
Four: Buy magnetic clips, one color per kid, to hold the daily chores on the fridge.
Five: Laminate your cards and help the kids get busy!
The chore card method has worked fabulously well for us. Each morning, I simply sort through the chores & see what needs to be done that day. Water the plants? Nope, it just rained. Sweep off the porch? Oh, please, do it now! Fold or put away laundry? Yep, finally getting to that today. I choose the chores, put them in the clips, & put the clips on the front of the fridge. When the jobs are done, the kids move their clip to the side of the fridge. I think the reason this works is 1) the chores are specific to our family and 2) I can choose them that day—no detailed planning ahead required.
And, no, we do not pay for chores at our house. I buy into the “you’re a part of the family, this is a part of your life” philosophy. When my kids hit 5th grade, they get a monthly salary, from which they pay for friends’ birthday gifts, school skating trips, etc. But that, my friends, is a different post for a different time.
Have fun cleaning!