The first thing you need to do is figure out how many chores your child will be responsible for. Most of the chores on your list probably will not take up a whole heap of time. My line of thought is one chore per year old. My youngest just turned four and my oldest is about to turn seven, so we are currently in chore transition at our house. Assigning new chores, rearranging some (since they are both big enough to take on harder chores the younger child will take over some of his brothers and the older child will get new ones) and redoing our 'charts'.
|From Little Brown Pen, link at end of post|
I have also read the recommendation of cutting the child's age in half and rounding up when necessary. With that line of thought my youngest would only have two chores and I don't personally feel that's enough. Mind you his chores include making sure all the shoes in the house are where they belong and emptying the bathroom trashcan into the kitchen trashcan...neither of those take much time. As they get older and chores become more complex and take longer, they have more homework and after school activities I will probably not continue on with adding on a chore a year...Again, you have to do what works for you.
In the past my boys have had set chores. The youngest had his same three chores every day, the oldest the same six. Since we are in chore transition we'll have a few chores that they both can do and those won't be permanent assignments...we'll switch it up a bit and let them choose every week whose the lucky one to empty the compost and water the house plants. :D There are also more than 11 chores to choose from. Chores that aren't picked by the kids go to...you guessed it, MOM & DAD. In our household the kiddos will take turns choosing the chores they want to do each week (the ones that aren't theirs permanently) and Mom & Dad get the rest along with their own permanent chores. It is important that you include yourself and your spouse/significant other in the chore chart. Including yourself will show that you are not of the "Do as I say, not as I do" line of thought, which is very important for young children. Even though you are in charge of maintaining your household, it helps them to see what you are responsible for laid out in front of them and to see that you are maintaining those responsibilities.
Your next step is to figure out a way to keep track of the chores your family members are responsible for. Chore charts are great and you can easily find them online or create your own. With youngsters around who can't read you can cut pictures from a magazine or use clip art to help illustrate the chore they are responsible for. You can create a printed check list, use a dry erase board, or poster board...which ever works for you. We've used all of the above and still switch it up from time to time...still trying to find the one that works best for us.
You also need to discuss with your family when chores are done. I recommend that for school age children and for a household that needs to be out of the house first thing in the morning that chores be done when they return from school/work/daycare in the afternoon. Adding in chores to the morning routine can be rather chaotic and add unnecessary stress in a household that already is scrambling to be on time. If you are early risers and have a ton of time available in the morning, try it, it may work for you to do chores after breakfast. Pajamas in the hamper and beds made upon waking are reasonable morning chores, dusting...not so much.
It is important that you set up guidelines for when chores are completed otherwise they will not be done. No one wants to do chores. I don't jump out of bed in the morning and rush off to fold laundry. Your kids won't either. They will also not care for the interruption of a favorite TV show or movie to get chores done. If you interrupt fun for chores you are bound to get a lot of whining and not a lot of doing. In our household video games are huge on the priorities list (for my kids not me) and so it's a rule that no video games can be played until chores are completed. For my youngest who isn't as much of a fan of video games the option is boredom or chores...for the most part when we get home from Mom's Morning Out he can't play toys, watch a movie, go to the library, go outside, etc. until his chores are taken care of.
You also need to set a reasonable time frame. One of the boys shared chores is to clean up all their toys. This is where the kitchen timer comes in handy. I set out a bin, turn on the timer and say - "You have ten minutes to get all the toys put into this bin or put away where they belong." Giving them the bin helps with the "I don't know where it goes." line that you are bound to hear. And for little ones, the word NOW as in "Clean it up NOW" means something completely different than it does to you. The timer actually makes it a little 'fun' for them...race against the clock!
Touching on what was said in Part 1...remember that it doesn't have to be perfect. If they put the socks in the underwear drawer, don't worry about it. Move them and put them in the right spots but don't let them see you do it. If they see that you are going around after them 'fixing' everything they do they will not only feel like they are not doing a good enough job they will also come to expect you to take care of it when they don't put their best effort into their chores.
As a final note, please don't ever use chores as a punishment, especially with young children. You are teaching them responsibility and pride in their home and belongings. Using a chore as a punishment will define chores as just that...punishment. They are not being punished by doing chores, they are an important part of your family and their job is to make their home a better living environment for everyone. And always be sure to "Catch them being good!" Give them plenty of praise for a job well done. When you notice that they actually clear their dinner plates without even being asked, let them know you noticed their effort and you are proud of them for taking the initiative to do it without being reminded.
Below are some online suggestions for Free Printable Chore Charts. To conserve paper (and your printer ink) you may want to laminate the sheets and write on them with dry/wet erase markers.
Check out these Printable Chore Charts:
Leah Remillet Photography - Printabel Chore Chart
Little Brown Pen - Chore Charts
Posh Little - Kids Chore Chart
And if you are feeling really crafty, you could try something like this!
Chore Chart for Multiple Kids from How Does She
Or you could purchase one on Etsy like the one from Idaho Mom of 2 below
As always, we appreciate your feedback and comments...please share!