Amanda Jolley

Studio Joy

Chore Charts Begone

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.

From Pigpen to Paradise

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!

amanda ∞

4 Comments on “Chore Charts Begone”

  1. Amanda, I am very impressed with your organization AND flexibility.
    Even though we don’t have children, I could really use a spreadsheet system like you describe. I tend to get overwelmed by ALL the ongoing/routine things to do… so they tend to lag.
    Thanks for sharing this.

  2. Amanda,

    When I started homeschooling I made a binder with daily, weekly and monthly schedules. We had a “meeting” at the beginning of the day to do our Bible study and plan our day. The plan was written in a very formal planner…

    it didn’t work for us either. I now use a system similar to yours only I don’t have it on a spreadsheet. I make a list at the beginning of the week of what needs to be done and we tackle it one job at a time. Marissa does get paid for the time she works with me as my assistant. She can earn $4/day. She is responsible to buy her clothes, her makeup, her contacts, her special shampoo and face stuff (I’d get her the cheap stuff, but the face stuff she likes costs $50!), etc. It is the money we use to teach her budgeting and check balancing.

    My daughter has been working with my husband quite a bit, making money as his video production assistant. I’m glad you mentioned check balancing. I think it’s time she had her own bank account.

  3. Great approach. I chucked the chore charts this year too. I instituted a “time for time”system. If someone wants computer time- the child must first have his/her own room clean, and then work for the amount of time wanted on the computer. I’ve taken the “what needs to be done most approach”, because the kitchen floor didn’t need as much mopping as the bathroom needed cleaning, etc. It keeps the job real and rewarding for all.

    What an excellent idea, time for time. Hmmm, I might be incorporating that one. 🙂

  4. Thanks for this tip. My organized mother evidently didn’t need a system, but I’ve been struggling my entire adult life with managing housework. It always seems strange because I approach my other duties in a pretty organized way! Over the summer I had the kids working zones, but with the school schedule we need a different approach.

    I picked up this book from the library and now I’m setting up my Excel spreadsheet. I thought of using mail merge to print cards, but re-reading your post (after reading the book) makes me lean toward sorting by frequency and printing.

    Anyway, thanks for spurring me on!

    Good for you. I must put a disclaimer on the book. It is not for everyone, but it sure works for us. Hope it does for you too.

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