Stuff That Works for Us: Chores.

So, chores. Chores have always been a tough area for me to figure out, as I have been one of those, “If you want something done right, do it yourself,” moms. I knew I should be teaching my kids the life skills of laundry, washing dishes, and all that nonsense, but I left the simpler tasks to them, and tried to do it all myself.

Silly mommy!

Then, Oregon happened. I knew we would be staying with Granny & Grandad (my in-laws), and so I asked Granny ahead of time if she would come up with chores around her house she’d be comfortable having the kids do, so they didn’t see this trip as one big vacation. She came up with a basic system that worked really well, and we’ve modified it a little, and implemented it here.

Chore chart.

Chore chart.

I’ve had this snazzy, official-looking chore chart for a year now. At last, I have figured out how I want to use it, thanks to Granny. While we were in Oregon, she had the kids each doing three chores a day, and when they finished, they had to report to her. She paid them one jelly bean per chore once they finished. Every week, they had a “Granny meeting,” where she would ask them if any of them wanted to switch jobs for the week.

I knew I didn’t want to pay them in candy everyday, though it was fine in Oregon. So, when we got home, I wrote up the chore list, held a meeting, and the kids and I divvied everything up. We use different colored dry-erase markers to denote who does what chore with a dot in each kid’s color.

Whenever they finish a chore for the day, they mark it on their chart. Once school work and chores are all done, I pay them in one hour of Wii time. Every week, I ask if anyone wants to switch, and if they do, we negotiate trades. If not, I don’t mind letting them do the same chores a few weeks in a row.

The point is, they are in control of their chores. I don’t have to yell at them, and I don’t have to do everything myself. They’ve learned to negotiate with each other, and how to speak up respectfully if they want something different.

My life has been made truly easier and better for it. My house has never been cleaner. It’s not perfect, by any means, but things are getting done. That’s what matters to me. We’re not behind any more, and we all have a little more time on our hands to do fun things – like play board games or color or read together.

Granted, not everything gets done, all the time–far from it, actually–but the daily tasks are taken care of, and I’m able to catch up a little at a time on the bigger, more time-consuming ones. Good enough is good enough in this house, in most cases.

My kids proved themselves to be diligent, willing workers when we were in Oregon, and they continue to prove it daily. Sure, they get an attitude once in awhile, but that’s so much better than the alternative–Mom doing everything herself, and having to beg the kids to do what little I was asking of them.

I’m sure this system won’t work this well forever, and we’ll have to change it up every now and then. However, it’s working now, and now is all I can think about everyday. Now is the only moment I have any control over, so I’m grateful that it works. I’ll cross the bridge of change when I come to it, and not before. (Aren’t we silly to think that we ever can cross it before we get there?)

Anyway. Chores. That’s how we’re doing them right now.

I think today will be a day when I catch up on one or two of the bigger chores that fall by the wayside as we walk our daily life. My will to work has increased, because my workload has decreased a little. Delegation is a good thing.

Do you have a chore system? How does it work for you? Any suggestions you can think of for me? I’m always open to new ideas!

Grace & Peace,


8 thoughts on “Stuff That Works for Us: Chores.

  1. Wow. Yes to chores!!!

    I used to tell my children: 8 people are changing clothes and one person is doing all the laundry? 8 people are eating and one person is doing all the cooking and KP? 8 people are walking around in this house and one person does all the sweeping?

    I DON’T THINK SO!!! 😆

    We had routine chores, some of which changed daily, some of which they worked on together. For instance, they all worked on folding the socks once a week, and it usually turned into a sock war. As long as it was friendly and it got done, I didn’t say much.

    After each meal I would say, “Okay, I made this mess now y’all get to clean it up!” They unloaded and loaded the dishwasher, wiped counters and stove, etc. It really was a chore factory around here.

    We practiced Spanish conversation while we did canning chores such as snapping beans. We took an hour off at 10 a.m. every Friday to dust and vacuum. We sometimes took a day off to rake (and jump into) leaves.

    And here’s a post about garden weeding chore management that is such a fond memory for me and for them:

    Have fun! 🙂

  2. Wonderful. (: I remember my brother and I going off of a system much like that when we were young. It made us feel a lot better about ourselves and had less focus on the ‘chore’ part of it; more of the focus was on success and gratitude.

  3. At this point I’ve only got one child and he’s not quite 3 so we don’t have much by way of chores going on around here yet. I do find though he is intensely interested in helping out with just about everything, as long as we are doing it together. He puts the dirty clothes in the washer, loves to dump in the detergent and to get to pull the knob to get things going. He gets upset if he doesn’t get to be the one to handle the dust pan and dump it, so on and so forth. As he continues to grow older he’ll be able to do these things independantly, and I’m sure the jobs themselves will lose some of their allure for him and I will need to implement some sort of a system. I believe it is important for children to feel a sense of responsibility for doing their part to keep a household running and it prepares them for life after they eventually move away from home. The book Cleaning House has some interesting insights into the whole issue of children doing chores, even ones that at first seem too difficult or complex.

    • Thanks for the book recommendation! I love that “big helper” stage. I feel pretty blessed. My kids don’t protest too much, because they know that once their work is done, they are free to play. 🙂

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