Chore charts have had an important part in the process of training the kids how to care for their own homes one day. As they have grown older, ages 12 and 14 now, we have reached a place in which the chore charts were actually working against the good of the family. While one child didn’t really care if anything on the chore chart was accomplished, the other child was becoming unwilling to help in areas that were not on the chore chart. I heard the phrase, “That’s __________ job, not mine.” While the chore charts did teach them how to do specific tasks well, and how to take initiative to complete their responsibilities, some changes really needed to be made. We were losing the family cohesiveness.
While I was growing up, my mom read and implemented the plan from the book, Sidetracked Home Executives, by Pam Young and Peggy Jones. She had a card file system, color-coded, organized by daily, weekly, monthly, and seasonal chores. This worked very well for our family particularly when she re-entered the work force in my jr. high and high school years. As a farmer’s family, my brothers did the farm work and I took care of the house and the yard. The system worked very well.
When my kids were babies, I borrowed Mom’s book and made my own card file as an excel spreadsheet. This spreadsheet has been the basis of our chore charts since their inception, plus I knew what I needed to accomplish as well.
Well, towards the end of July, we chucked our chore charts and have been using this trusty old excel spreadsheet to get things done together. Although we are still adjusting, I must say our new way is working great. I print out the jobs that need done each week and post them on our bulletin board. After lunch each day, all of us take half an hour to work on the chores. We tackle a room as a team and actually have fun laughing and working together. We are all pitching in with our free moments to take care of maintenance issues, like laundry folding, dish washing, decluttering.
The removal of chore charts did have monetary implications as well. With the chore charts, each child had some jobs with and some without monetary reward. This was to teach them how to handle an income, and that some things just need done without payment. Now the kids get no money based on their chore performance. I give them a flat sum each month. They decided how the money should be spent. I encourage them to tithe and save, but don’t force them.
The greatest benefit of our new system have been a general cohesiveness as a family. We are now working together to accomplish larger tasks rather than micromanaging our own lists. The jobs are no longer “his” or “hers,” but rather “ours.” I’ve always emphasized that I need my children’s help, that the chores were not just busy work, but because I can’t accomplish it all without them. I need their help. Now we are able to prioritize and tackle the area of greatest need rather than ignoring a huge mess because it’s not on “my” list. Yay!