Do I have you sold by the title?
Can you tell I really like how we are doing chores lately?
I had heard of various systems using chore cards, chore charts, lists, etc. And we had tried a few different kinds, but they always had their drawbacks. Usually there wasn't enough flexibility built in or not enough variation for the kids.
For example, Z would have dog poop pick up on every Tuesday and Thursday. But then what happens when it is pouring buckets on Tuesday morning and then Wed is bright and sunny. Is he now supposed to do two days chores on Wed, but nothing on Tuesday? And no, I do not put him in a rain suit and send him outside...that was not one of the options.
Or let's say vacuum the family room was on Friday, but we decide to go somewhere on Friday. Now the family room ends up super dirty all weekend (not a good plan, if you ask me).
What was I to do, you ask?
Here is my awesome solution (or at least, I think so):
1. Buy different colored magnet clips (one for each of the children you would ask to do chores). For us this is three. I might be a rather driven mom and all, but no, my one and two year-olds do not have assigned jobs.
2. Take a stack of 4x6 cards and cut them in half (because I am cheap and didn't need the size of the whole card). Make a list of all the jobs you have ever had the children do. Be specific: it works better in our house if I break up the rooms for vacuuming. So I have about five vacuum cards-dining room, school room, upstairs, etc. And there are cards for the specific bathrooms: upstairs and downstairs.
Don't forget to help your sanity out by including what I call 'half jobs'. These are to maintain the cleanliness, but not take as long as a full cleaning. For example: my older two kids can clean the bathrooms (everything except the showers-those are still my duty). However, the counters get messy in between once a week cleanings. So, I have a card labeled for wiping off both bathroom counters. All three of them can do this job and it keeps things decently clean and allows for J to begin learning how to clean the bathroom.
3. Write these jobs on the cards. If it was a job that they all do on the same day sometimes (like put away their clean laundry) then write that job out on three cards.
4. Assign each color clip to a child.
5. The next morning, before chore time, glance around the house and decide what needs to be cleaned. Is the bathroom beyond presentable? Are your floors collecting dog hair like crazy (like mine)? Or is the dust able to be measured? Pick out those cards. Decide who should do which job. Put those cards on the appropriate clip. Around here there are days when everyone has one large job and there are other days when they may have up to three smaller jobs. On our homeschool coop/errand day and on Sunday nobody has chores....here in lies the beauty of flexibility.
Note: I am a bit strategic here about a few things. You learn as you go along. Each household will vary as to the best strategy, but here are some of mine:
1) I only have one caddy for bathroom cleaning so I will not ask for both bathrooms to be cleaned on one day.
2) Vacuuming upstairs does not go as smoothly when I also have someone trying to clean the upstairs bathroom.
3) I only ask one child to do a chore that I know I will need to assist them with to avoid mass frustration.
4) Think ahead: do you have company coming in the next couple of days? Are you going to be gone tomorrow? Etc...
6. When the child has completed their job they bring me their cards and I can check their work at this time if I didn't earlier. Now the cards go back in my master pile.
During chore time if I am not needed for assistance I may move the laundry along, put away Ryan and my clean clothes, wash the dishes, deep clean the kitchen, make bread, or prep for school that day.
Although my kids do help with a lot of the cleaning around here (and I am very grateful) there is still plenty for this mom to do!
For more details on how our kids pitch in around here...stay tuned.