There is much I have learned from my mother over the years, and this summer, I pulled yet another one of her super smart parenting tips out of my back pocket: the sibling chore chart.
If there’s one thing that has been a complete success this summer, it has to be my boy’s chore chart, which has simplified how the small jobs get done around the house and the homestead.
It’s nothing fancy, just some lines and scribbles on a paper that we made together on the first day of summer vacation. Yep, that’s right, we started the holidays with a firm reminder that they have to pull their own weight around the home.
While it’s been great to have jobs completed relatively squabble-free, I’m most appreciative of the scheduled time in the kitchen we have had together thanks to the chore chart.
Each day, the boys have taken turns assisting with breakfast, lunch and dinner. And they’ve done so eagerly and without complaining. Well, most of the time – they are kids, after all!
All of our meals are more relaxed over the summer, so it has been an ideal time to continue their culinary education. Since we already know the benefits of letting (school-aged) kids loose in the kitchen, it’s only natural to want to keep on teaching them.
So we’ve grated zucchini for the best bread ever, made dozens of peanut butter banana sandwiches, and memorized a simple pasta recipe to make from scratch. Perhaps my proudest moment was when Noah ‘invented’ peach lemonade by juicing the fresh peaches and squeezing lemons by hand. He was so tickled pink with himself for creating the flavor, I didn’t have the heart to tell him it had been already been done.
Kids in the Kitchen: Use a chore chart
I honestly didn’t expect our chore chart to last longer than that first week, during which they obediently performed their tasks, sweeptunder the table after dinner without being asked and filled the cats’ breakfast bowls before coming downstairs for the day, among other duties.
By the second week we were into a groove, each boy taking a turn helping me make dinner while the other played with Clara and kept her out of harm. I kept my comments to myself, but marveled at how I didn’t have to remind them to do jobs, they simply referred to the chart and went on their way. It was like they were under a spell.
After a month, you can believe I was patting myself on the back for coming up with such a good motivational tool that stuck.
Tips for creating a motivational chore chart for easy household chores.
There are a few reasons why I think our simple chore chart worked:
Equal tasks. Right now the boys are (almost) 8 and 5 1/2. Everything is about ‘fairness’, so the chart has them alternate tasks each day. No one can say “I have to do this all the time” or “I did it last time”. On the flip side, they have equal opportunities for the ‘fun’ jobs, such as collecting eggs, and I don’t have to listen to “he aaaaaalways gets to collect the eggs”.
Simple jobs. None of the tasks on the chart are daunting, and most can be completed in under five minutes.
Assigned jobs when boredom hits. Only when the boys were skimming around the house, causing trouble, did I enforce ‘job time’ on them. I tried never to interrupt them when they were playing nicely. They learned to keep themselves busy, or I’d put them to work!
Complaining gets an extra job. Of course there were always moments in the beginning when one or the other dragged their feet at a task. If the grumbling got too loud, I’d simply assign one more job to the vocalizer, something off the chart, like empty the dishwasher. They learned that consequence quickly, and the rest of the summer went much better.
Include fun stuff too. Along with “Lunch Help” and “Compost” I also made space in the chart for play, which, although this is what they do the rest of the day, they loved having it assigned. I wrote both “Outdoor Play” and “Quiet Play” as I wanted to make time each day for fresh air and sunshine, as well as creative play with arts and crafts.
Rewards. Screen time in our home is not freely given. By zipping through their morning chores, the boys could earn 15 minutes of computer games, Wii, or Netflix.
After the success of the summer, I’m ready to have the chart laminated and put to good use for the entire winter.
School begins next week and with five of us going different directions, we’re going to need a good solid routine where everyone pitches in. Okay, maybe I’ll let Clara off the hook.
Do you use a chore chart at home to share household duties?