We finally implemented a chore chart.
I’ve been meaning to do it for a year or more, and have even tried a few different things, but nothing ever stuck. Once we got the girls involved, though, there was no turning back.
Funny how little ones are so good at holding you accountable.
The system is simple. Each girl has one chore per day. They rotate, so if Mila swept the front walk this week, it will be Margot’s turn next week. If they do their chore for the day, they can put a sticker on the chart. And if they do all their chores in a week, they get paid $5.
For now, the list of chores is pretty basic. I wanted them to be things that would a) make a difference in how the house looked + felt while b) still being easy enough for a 4-year-old to do without (much) help. Here’s what I came up with:
- vacuum the living room + family room rugs
- vacuum their bedroom
- change the tablecloth and sweep the dining room floor
- sweep the front walk
- put away clean laundry
- water the houseplants
- dust the living room + family room furniture
- wipe down the bathroom counter + sink
- empty the bathroom trashcan
- clean off + wipe down their art table
- mop the dining room floor
As they get older, and as Ryan gets to the point where he can start contributing more, we’ll add in things like cleaning the toilet, loading the dishwasher, etc. For now it’s pretty bare minimum and I love it.
The beauty of having them vacuum their bedroom, for example, is they have to clean it first. Ideally they’d put everything away where it belongs, but frankly I’m happy just to have them get the mess off the floor. Or off all my side tables. Or any other surface they tend to spread out on. It’s awfully hard to clean a surface that’s cluttered with LEGOs + crayons + books + stuffies.
The bad news is we keep losing steam by the end of the week. They’re getting consistent about doing their Monday through Wednesday chores, but by Thursday? Maybe. They still haven’t done any Friday or Saturday chores at all.
The good news is, we’ve only had the “system” in place for a couple weeks. Since I’m learning to give myself grace and allow myself to fail, I feel pretty good about our track record so far. Implementing new habits takes time. We’ll get there. For now, it’s nice to have a swept walk and clean bathroom counter.
Also, since I think this is important to add, these chores are not their only responsibilities. Both girls have homework (Mila nightly, Margot weekly) and other obligations for school. They regularly help set the table for dinner, and have learned to take their breakfast + lunch dishes to the counter when their done. We always pick up the house before they go to bed. That’s usually a family effort; since everyone contributed to the mess, everyone helps pick it up. Sometimes I set a timer and turn on music and we see how much we can clean in 4 minutes. Other times I let them know Daddy is on his way home and their toys need to be put away before he gets here.
My point is, they’re not new to helping around the house. I merely want them to learn new skills for taking care of their home—because they live here! They need to take care of it as much as anyone else!—and to feel a sense of accomplishment for a job well done.
Plus they really like the idea of earning money.
It’s a work in progress, as most things are around here, but I’m pleased with how it’s going so far.
How do you handle chores at your house? What do you think works well for you, and what, if anything, would you like to change? What tips do you have for a mom who’s trying her hardest to teach her kids not to be slobs, despite their hoarder tendencies? (That last one is for a friend. Who is me. I’m the one with the hoarder kids. It’s fine.)