Congratulations kids, you finished another year of school! I will expect more from you now. It’s time to change the chore chart.
Yes, I know it’s summer vacation, but in our house that doesn’t mean lazy, boring days. Instead, it means a chance to reset our routines, do different things, and cross off activities from our bucket lists.
It also means we upgrade the chore chart. I have written before about our chore chart here. In the past, each kid had to do three basic chores each day before they could ask for TV or computer time. The tasks were simple–things like unload the dishwasher, clean up your room, recycle something, or read a book.
But they are older now. My big kids are going into 4th grade, 2nd grade, and 1st grade next year. It’s time to step up the chore game a little bit.Are you ready to upgrade your kids' chore chart? Try this approach! Click To Tweet
I almost threw away our chore chart
I had a love/hate relationship with our chore chart. Of course it was useful to teach my children some responsibility. But they would also fight about who did which chores. Since they each had to do three a day, they all wanted the quick and easy ones. They could blow through their chores in ten minutes most days. That didn’t feel right to me, especially after I started working as a freelance writer this year. I need more help around the house, and they need to learn how to do things like laundry and cleaning.
I wanted to spend the summer re-training them to do more chores and cleaning around the house. But instead of doing it a little bit at a time and dealing with a lot of whining and arguments along the way, I decided to do it all at once. It was a little sudden and painful, like ripping off a Band-Aid, but just one week into summer I am seeing a huge difference.
When your kids are old enough for bigger chores
Parenting means constantly changing your routines to adapt to your child’s abilities. Just when you get used to nap time, bam! They stop taking naps. Once you have taught them how to put on a shirt by themselves, then they learn how to zip a jacket. Chores are the same way. You teach a three-year-old to clear their own things from the table. Then when they are five, they can learn how to wipe off the table or dry it. By the time they are seven, they can sweep the floor underneath of it.
My challenge was that with kids of different ages, it is hard to make them all ‘fair.’ The oldest, who just turned nine, is capable of cleaning many things around the house. But if I expect her to do that without giving her younger brothers a similar cleaning task, she will quickly feel punished and discouraged. So I have been waiting for this year, when my older three kids are finally at the same level and ability and can handle bigger chores. Here is what is on their chart now:
- Start a load of laundry, or switch clothes from the washer to the dryer
- Unload the dishwasher and put the dishes away
- Clear the table
- Wipe and dry the table
- Sweep the floor
- Take out the trash and recycling
- Set the table
- Clean your room or put toys away
- Put clothes away
- Make your bed
- Dust or vacuum one room
- Practice piano
- Do homework
These are the tasks that need to happen every day in our house. For years, I have been doing almost all of them myself. Now, it is the kids’ responsibility to make sure all these jobs are completed before they ask for TV or computer time.
How do you keep kids from fighting over chores?
Here’s the beauty of this plan and why I like the new way we are using our chore chart. Instead of fighting over who does which chores, they are now working together as a team. They realize that no one will get to enjoy TV time until the entire list is done. So they are all motivated to do whatever they can, to the best of their ability. Some days, the oldest does most of the work. But she volunteers to do it because she knows it will go faster that way. Other days, she is occupied and the younger brothers step up to get the job done. Instead of arguing over whose job is easier, they are volunteering to help each other. It’s beautiful and amazing to watch.
I’m so glad I took the step to move our chores to the next level. It has made a huge difference in my house. Not only are the kids helping me out by pulling their own weight around the house, but I see them becoming proud of their efforts and more confident, too. After all, they just finished a whole grade at school. Their teachers will expect more from them next year, and I will too.