Thursday, December 30, 2010

Flexible Chore Charts


Back when school was about to start, I was sitting in my hairdresser's chair, waiting for her to finish working her magic, when I started lamenting about our chore charts and how the system just wasn't working for me anymore. Okay, I was whining. Is that better?

I've told you that my hairdresser is a magician, so I was very interested to hear what she had to say about chores. Lucky for me, she had a lot to say. We got into a big discussion about how we were tired of nagging our kids to finish their chores. To just stay focused long enough to get them done. Stop beating a dead horse and do the ding dang chore so you can ding dang play before you leave for college, PUH-lease!

I'm sure you are familiar with the scenario.



The Magician shared with me how she revamped her whole system by assigning just one chore to each kid per day. Every Monday they had the same chore. Every Tuesday they had the same chore, and so on. I was desperate and willing to try anything, so the schedule you see above is what we came up with. And guess what? It worked.

Mostly. I really like that there is just one chore to focus on because the kids aren't overwhelmed with a ginormous list. Now, they are still responsible for other "procedures" as I like to call them. Sneaky, yes, but that's what us moms are paid to be, aren't we? Oh wait. There is no pay.

All the more reason for us to do whatever the heck we want to do. My house is a small country and I am the Queen, and all that jazz. 

The "procedures" I'm talking about (by the way, snarky air quotes are required) are making the bed, picking up after yourself, brushing your teeth, etc. Basically, whatever I say they are, on any given day. I just point at the kid, say do blah-blah (please) and it is a "procedure," not a chore. Also, Saturdays, which are my cleaning days, they must be available to assist me at a moments notice. I make it a rule to never bend over to pick up anything that I didn't put on the floor, so it's mostly that sort of thing. "Pick up that creepy looking horse or I'm going to suck it up in the vacuum cleaner. Head first."

It works for me.

The nifty thing is that the kids are not doing fewer chores, but they think they are doing fewer chores.

The only part of this system that didn't work long term for us, was the same chore on the same day part. The problem is that some days we aren't home long enough to do even the one chore. Every week is different because there's always something going on it seems. It's probably like this for everyone, right?

Anyway, I've been thinking and thinking and thinking about how I can improve this system, and I came up with this.


You know how I love me some magnets, right? Well, couple that will some jumbo popsicle sticks, a little pretty paper, and some Mod Podge, and we're in business. They are very simple, but they are versatile.


Our chore charts have always had a home on the side of our fridge, so that part is still the same. Now each chore is on it's own popsicle stick under the responsible party's magnet face. We started with the three chores above, that each of the girls have to do at least once a week. Next, they took turns picking their chores.


These are the chores I gave them to pick from this go 'round. Aren't they lucky?


After they chose their chores, I moved them around a little bit so they wouldn't both get scoop litterbox on the same day. That would be a waste of a perfectly good chore, don't you think?

As you can see, our chores aren't tied to specific days, but instead we will rotate them in order. If we are home and the chore can be completed, as decided by myself and my mood of the moment, then each child will do the chore on top, then rotate it to the bottom of their stack. This way things still get done on a regular basis, but maybe not on June Cleaver's schedule.

Also, we can trade chores when they get tired of the chores they picked. We like to mix things up to keep them fun. Because chores are so fun.


I'm really excited about the 10-minute timed family pick-up. We've never done this one before, but I have high hopes for it. The idea is to set the timer for 10 minutes, and everyone runs around and tries to pick up and clean as much as they can before the timer goes off. Doesn't it sound like fun?

Okay, pretend then.


Here's the other part of the chore system that the Magician gave me. When the girls finish their chores they come to me to get a token, which is simply a poker chip. If they forget, the token is forfeited. This puts the pay out on them, and let me tell you, this is really working for me. Before, I felt like every time I turned around I was handing out allowance and printing out new chore charts. Now, I have more cash because they hardly ever remember. Not that I should be cheating my kids or anything like that, but I'm teaching responsibility, right? If you don't punch your timecard, you don't get a paycheck, right?

Do people even still use timecards? Did I just totally date myself? Let me guess, hourly wage earners are microchipped and as soon as they walk into the building, their time is noted by a computer off site, and their paycheck is delivered electronically to their bank without them ever knowing how it was calculated? Do I watch too much Sci-Fi?

Anyway, as I was saying, the poker chips are worth 25 cents each. They can't cash them in until they have $5 worth collected. Then I take 20% off the top for charity and savings.

The tokens also work great for bribing consequences. I can take them away if the girls misbehave, or I have to ask them more than once to do something, or not do something, whatever the case may be. I have to tell you also, they think the tokens are pretty cool. Losing a token is a big deal around here.

And it makes me feel powerful. Which I love.

I also put the tokens into play to curb some other undesirable habits, shall we say.

For example, if Annika gets up in the morning the first time we ask her, and she gets dressed, brushes her teeth, etc., the first time we ask her, she gets a token. If she doesn't, not only does she not get a token, but she can lose tokens if we have to ask her to get her gnarly carcass out of bed repeatedly.

For Zoe, if she wakes up without her hair looking like this,


she earns a token. If she wakes up and it does look like this, she can still earn a token if she takes care of it by herself. For example, like this:


Hey, whatever simplifies things for me, that's what works around here. I've had to work very hard at relaxing my standards.

32 comments:

  1. Jill, this article is completely awesome and totally hit home with me! I am going to start following your rules and make myself the queen of my country tomorrow morning. Thank you for sharing and inspiring me!

    ReplyDelete
  2. You are so darn creative! The magician might have helped with the system, but you made the system beautiful with your craftiness :) Might have to add this to my list of things to do/get started in 2011!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I have a recently-turned-5 year old and he is in need of starting some chore. Especially since he can read a chore chart now... Im thinking between the tokens and the popcicle sticks- you are on to something! WOO HOO! Thank you- AND your magician!


    and P.S.- snarky air quotes are my fave :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. genius.. I love it! I love air quotes and the sideways grin and raised eyebrows that inevitably accompany them. I have four kids, so I think I may never have to do chores again. and, three of my kids are still afraid of the vaccuum so when I want some alone time I turn it on and park it in front of the computer room.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I am definitely instituting one of your ideas. However, I don't have kids, and thus no need for a chore chart (yet).

    So what am I so excited about? I shall never again bend over to pick up something off the floor which I did not put on the floor!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hahahahaha! The hair, oh the hair. She will kill you for this one day. Love the poker chip idea. Might have to incorporate that one.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I think this is a fantabulous idea and sounds like absolute fun to me. I am pretty sure that my 15 and 12 year old boys would bah humbug the whole idea all the ding dong day. :/ I just say DO IT and that gets the job done, most of the time. Happy New Year to you and yours. Tammy

    ReplyDelete
  8. I do something a little similar. Each of my children are assigned 2 relatively easy chores per day. When completed I had them a "Kamryn Dollar". This is laminated and they look like a real dollar but with their picture in the dollar. This helps to keep them from losing money and/or having friends/cousins take it. Once a week I bring out a clear container called "the store"....It's filled with goodies that they can buy ranging from 0.25 to $10......I also at that point, they bring me their "Kamryn dollar" and exchange it for real money and we also take 25% out for charity and savings leaving them with 0.75 cents. The store never appears on the same day each week so if they don't do their chores, they might miss out! I NEVER take away their "Kamryn Dollars"!!!!!!!! If they earned it, they get to keep it! I might take away a toy or something like that but I don't think it's right to take away the money they've earned. If we make a mistake at work, they don't take away our wages.....right? Anyway, my system is working AWESOME! The kids LOVE it. I started with the poker chips but it became to much of a hassle at my house. They thought they were toys. So, when I found the website that prints "Dollars with the kids faces" on it... I jumped all over that so they can see immediately money comes with work.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Oh my gosh, Jill, you sound like the Mommy Mafia with your "pick up that weird looking horse or it gets sucked up head first." LOL!

    I love your magnets and what a great idea. Except for the fact that I have a smart aleck son who would have moved all his chore magnets under his sister's picture! I did the chip thing with my kids {10 years ago}, they earned them for things like time to play video games, watch TV, that type of thing. It wasn't a long lasting thing, but we tried it.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Oh good Lord you kill me and those pictures of Zoe's hair! :) Great job working on it kiddo! LOL!

    ReplyDelete
  11. I LOVE the family 10 minute clean up!! At our house everyone has their own clean up bucket that sits by the front door, while I am cleaning up during the day, their crap goes in their bucket. Then at the end of the day we go through each room in the house with our buckets and pick up everything, then they have to put everything in the bucket and tidy up their rooms before bed. It helps so much, I love it!! I like the chore list idea too, I think I will try that!!

    ReplyDelete
  12. I am so loving tnis. It is totally/ what I have been trying to come up with. Thanks so much.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Awesome system! We do the 10 minute tidy around here too. Sometimes to spice it up, we also add something called the Magic Scrap. Before the 10 minute tidy starts, I choose one obscure something that is out of place and whoever is thorough enough to pick it up gets a point/prize/token/whatever the dangling carrot of the moment is. It keeps the 10 minute tidy interesting and encourages the kids to look high and low and pick up EVERYTHING, not just the obvious stuff!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Middle School aged children lose their hearing don't ya know. I am constantly reminding my twins to do what I asked and repeating myself. They both are involved in extracurricular (cost me money) activities to which their chores are the required work for me to pay for the activities. No work, no activity. I get tired of repeating myself and arguing with them. We live in a small apartment that can become cluttered very quickly if not dealt with on a daily basis. I've tried just about every other system imaginable. I'm going to give yours a go and see what happens! At the very least, nothing will change so what do I have to lose except my voice...

    ReplyDelete
  15. What a great idea! I will need to give this a try at my house.

    I have nominated you for an award on my blog if you are interested.
    http://onecraftyme.blogspot.com/2011/01/you-like-me-you-really-really-like-me.html

    ReplyDelete
  16. You are absolutely hilarious. Loved this post. Hope the plan works. m

    ReplyDelete
  17. This is like the system we have. We follow Dave Ramsey's system. It adds the smart with finances element too. My kids love it. The are 7, 6, & 4. They all just earned enough money to buy a nintendo DSi one quarter at a time. Teach them responsibility & money smarts & they will rule the world, well at least their own & not be ruled by it. Way to be a great mom & teach you kids responsibility!

    ReplyDelete
  18. I'm doing this system. Love your humor.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Great idea! The best part about it for me is I have 5 kids... 4 that are chore-worthy and am stinkin' excited to pop this little diddy into action. Now I just need to find a place that can house allll those chores I am going to assign!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Great idea! The best part about it for me is I have 5 kids... 4 that are chore-worthy and am stinkin' excited to pop this little diddy into action. Now I just need to find a place that can house allll those chores I am going to assign!

    ReplyDelete
  21. I love this idea! My daughter has ADHD and let me tell you mornings are horrible! By the time she gets off to school I just want to crawl back in bed and disappear for the remaining day (while she is at school at least lol) unfortunately I can't so I will have to give this a try.

    Brianna
    www.girlscurls.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  22. I chuckled almost all the way through this! I really enjoyed it. I am trying to come up with something for a chore chart that will work for us. This sounds like I could make it work without giving myself a headache figuring it all out. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  23. OMG. Well, I'm a little late to the party, but I finally made it! I love love LOVE the popsicle sticks. I've been trying to work out a chore system for my kids. I started doing something like your chip/coin thing, but it hasn't been going well. However, I think if i change it up a bit and make it worth $$,yep, everyone will get on board! I'm so stealing your idea, I hope you don't mind!

    Oh, and your poor girly girl! Her hair made me totally LOL! she looked so unhappy! I'm happy that she was able to 'style' it all by her loneseom!

    ReplyDelete
  24. I liked this idea, with the 25 cents for each chore, however, my child is older, that a quarter isn't a big incentive. So I made our system a little different. To clear the clutter we use a 3-ring binder with the current chores in the front. In the back we keep the old chores for 1 year. Each chore is worth X amount of points. Points then add up and can be used for different things. We do things like ice skating, going to the park, putt putt, etc. My little one can decide for money and X amount of points, can add up for cash if desired.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I'm going to try this. I've tried everything else maybe this will work. My girls are 7 and 10. Right now I'm just writing a daily list and putting on the table for them to do when they come home from school. Works ok. One thing that has worked is dishwasher duty. I have a magnet on my DW with the girls names on it. The top name empties the top rack...bottom the bottom rack then we rotate each time (turn the magnet around) That has been my one success!!! Thanks for the idea.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Hi I just came across your post here and love the poker chip idea so I just bought some, lol. How is the 10 minute timed family cleaning working for you?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Liz, We LOVE the 10-minute timed pick-up. It's the best way to get everyone on board at the same time because it's quick and everyone is doing it. So to answer your question, it IS still working for us and working very well. Thank you!

      Delete
  27. I just happened upon this...i read the whole article...great ideas. But then had a good 3 minute chuckle at the last bit and that hair. And then the fixed picture. Oh gracious thank you for the smile and laugh!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anytime, Natasha. I aim to make you chuckle. :)

      Delete

 
Blog Design by Creative Girl Media