Is it Possible for Your Kids to Do Chores that are ACTUALLY Helpful? Plus, My Secret Weapon Revealed.

Do Your Kids Do Chores?

I know, I know, it sounds like torture for everyone involved.  But, I think we’ve figured out a way to make it work- most of the time.  Truth be told, I am inherently lazy.  So lazy that my kids have actually adapted! They have learned to pick up some of the slack.  And it’s awesome.  Want to know how we do it? Read on.

Why Do I Rely On Chores?

I need help. There's always a bottomless pit of things that need to get done.   I have three kids in three different schools, a dog, and a husband.  It frustrates me to no end when I spend all of my valuable time picking up shoes, tidying up blocks, clearing dishes, sorting laundry, etc.  I love to spend my time being creative with my kids.  They love to be creative together.  In order for that to happen, they know it is best to help free up some of my time.  Happy mom = happy family. 

Simple Chore Guidlines:

1) Chores are best kept simple, they are NOT meant to make more work for me!

2) Chores are a choice.  I do not have it in me to stand over the children and force them to do their chores. 

3) Chores are age-appropriate. I aim for the children to feel successful and master the task that I am asking them to complete. This is really important in being able to get them to do it without having to nag.  Think small bites, not huge mouthfuls.  

4) Chores are actual tasks we need to get done. They are not made up because I feel like I should be teaching responsibility.  

How do we do it? Meet the reinvented chore chart.

I have three children and three different chore charts.  The children decide if and when they fill them out… WHAT? Yes, they decide if and when. 

When a chore is completed, they color in that bubble on the chore chart.

Like I said earlier, I do not have the bandwidth to stand over my kids and make them do their chores.  If I had to do that, I might as well just do them myself.  What motivates them to actually complete the charts and help out? I wasn't really sure, so I asked them.  Here’s what they said...

We have more time to have fun when we do our chores.”
“It’s just part of our routine.”
“I get in the mood to do chores ‘cuz it makes you like us.”
“I like the way you put the chores in the poppy bubbles instead of just… check, check, check.”
“I like that I get to pick which chore to do when.
— Straight out of Nate and Ruby's mouths on a Sunday afternoon

Their comments kind of surprised me.  I usually offer a choice of rewards for when you complete a chart.  I thought for sure that they would say they do their chores for the reward, but nope.  Wrong again.  In fact, Nate just called me out and said, “Actually, you always forget to give us the thing we won. And then we just forget too.” Oops. It’s totally true. My forgetfulness is another one of my most redeeming qualities. 

Rewards that are often neglected.

Rewards that are often neglected.

What Chores do They Complete?

Nate (nine and a half):  Walk the dog, start the laundry or switch the laundry, take recycling to the curb, start the dishwasher or unload the dishwasher

Ruby (seven): Walk the dog, collect the laundry from the bathrooms and bring it to the laundry room, bring the empty garbage cans up from the curb, make the beds, organize the shoe closet

Sloane (four): Feed the dog, set the table, put away everyones shoes, vacuum up the never-ending crumbs with the handheld vacuum (her favorite).

Want to Know My Secret Weapon? 

It's called "mom's choice."  

What exactly is a "mom's choice?"  It is my single favorite part of the chore chart.  

A ‘mom’s choice’ is when I get to spontaneously choose something that needs to get done.  For example, if the playroom is messy, I might choose that they straighten it.  If the children’s bathroom is particularly gross, “mom’s choice” might mean giving it a wipe down. It is basically free license for me to ask them to do whatever I need in that moment.  Yup! That's my secret weapon. 

Do Your Kids do Chores?

Remember, every family is different, and there is no magic solution that will work for everyone. Let your child’s age and temperament guide the way for you.  I REALLY hope that this post does not come off as sanctimonious.  I hesitated to write it, because making other moms feel like they "should" be doing this or that IS NOT MY JAM.  Instead, I wrote it because I think what we've come up with just might work for you. It might make your life easier....and we all need life to be just a little bit easier.  

I would love to know what works in your family. Please tell me in the comments below.

Lastly, here are a few links for some other great ideas on chores and children: 




Thanks for reading along,