Monday, August 29, 2011

Tackling Chores

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Sunday April 11th, 2010

I've learned over the years that there are as many chore systems as there are families. This is a wonderful thing as it means families are creating methods that work for their unique family dynamics. 

But like most moms, I think it's fun to see how others are doing it.   Whether you want to fine-tune your own system, or you're just starting out trying to create one, find what works for your family. 

In my last post, I shared about our wonderful school day messes. Messes that reveal life in our home. And though we love those kinds of messes, we do enjoy a clean and tidy home. And in a family of our size, it requires everyone pitching in to keep things in order and running smoothly.

Here's how we do it. My system of chores involves everyone, covers all areas, and even includes those monthly deep cleans.  This is a standard sized poster board that hangs on our refrigerator so that it can be easily seen.  Click on image for larger view.

As you can see, each child is color-coded so that they can quickly recognize their name. Most chores are Monday thru Saturday, with only the essentials on Sunday. Each child finds their name and can quickly scroll down the left column of chores to find out what they're doing on a particular day.

Our daily chores are usually done three times a day.  If that sounds like a lot, you should see how quickly things go awry around here.  After breakfast, we run though chores for the first time in the day.  Then again after lunch.  And again, after dinner.  Doing this throughout the day helps keep on top of things and makes the work quick and less painful.

Beneath the Daily Chores, we have Weekly and Monthly.  The weekly chores are done every Saturday.  The Monthly chores rotate weekdays.  For example, every 1st Tuesday of the month, Sophia and Seth wipe the downstairs baseboards.  This allows everything to be covered, but spreads out the work over the month.

We begin training our children to pitch in as soon as they understand commands.  However, the youngest age that I actually have on the chart is our three year old, Genevieve.  She has chores such as dish helper, meal helper, feeding the dog, etc.  The "helper" chores are for the little ones in training.  When the little ones are working along side an older one, they're learning that job.  It was very rewarding to graduate Seth (10) and Sophia (8) to their own dish and laundry day, knowing they were capable of doing the task because they spent time learning as "helpers".  

If you only have little ones, allow your children to be your helpers.  I know some days it's just easier to get things done yourself, but teaching your little one early will be such a blessing later on.  If the thought of training little ones to do chores is overwhelming, just start with one...a chore that would be most helpful to you if your little ones could do it on their own.  Train them in that one job until they've mastered it, and then move onto another chore.  And remember, try not to have high expectations at first.  My five year old won't sweep as well as I do, but they'll get better as they grow.  Give them lots of praise for a job well done!

As our children grow, the chart gets revamped to either include new children who are big enough to accomplish chores or "upgrade" jobs as kids become more capable.  (Click here to see two of our older charts.) 

As a matter of fact, I'll be revamping again soon since my oldest daughter is getting married in January.  I'll need to remove her from the chart and divvy up her chores between the rest of us.  Doesn't that sound so sad?  Removing her from the chart?  I don't know..maybe she'll consider popping on over a few times a day to help out?!

Okay, probably not.  She'll be a bit busy managing her own home.

So, what are your favorite tips for keeping your home clean?  What are some of the chores your little ones do?  And at what age do they begin?


  1. We allow kids to help as soon as they want to. Noah (21 months), often climbs up on a chair next to a sister to "help" with the dishes. He also like to grab a cloth and "clean" with everyone else. Older two or three will probably be his first real job that he is responsible. Here are some posts from my blog about this very topic!

  2. I've started assigning chores to my 3 yr old (we started when he was about 2 1/2). It took a lot of patience at first, but even after just this little while, I'm impressed at how much he has improved! My goal for him by the time he turns 4 is for him to be able to do his chores without me watching him. Here's how we do it...

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