I’d love to say we’ve raised our kids to pitch in around the house without much asking or prompting, but honestly that’s not true. Our boys (ages 3 and nearly 8) can be very helpful, but they’re also totally happy when we do things for them. Get milk, clear plates, do laundry, make snacks, tidy rooms, put away their backpacks, find their shoes. You get the picture.
The other week I was standing in the kitchen doing all the things for all the people and felt overwhelmed. At that moment, I realized we needed to change things up.
We always envisioned raising self-sufficient, non-entitled, responsible kids… but sometimes we need a new strategy to help us reset, stay consistent, and follow through.
Enter our experiment with a chore chart
In the past, we’ve had great success using a chore chart with Little I (our nearly 8 year old).
He’s very motivated by rewards, stars, money, and screen time. I can’t remember why we stopped (perhaps we thought we didn’t need it anymore?), but regardless, we needed it now. We knew it would motivate Little I, and we hoped our youngest one, Little O, would follow suit.
Here’s what we put together (in about 5 minutes via the awesome app Canva).
There are a bunch of different ideas out there, but before you get too far down that rabbit hole, think about what you want the expectations to be for your family.
We asked ourselves: what are the basic things we want to make sure they are doing before the reward, and what areas do we want them to do better at? (In other words, what are your pain points? Use the chart to solve these problems.)
We picked 5 things:
- Get outside every day
- Read and finish any school work
- Put away shoes and backpack after school
- Tidy room
- Complete a chore (assigned or chosen from two options)
These were different items than last time we did a chart (I’ll share that chart below, too). Choose what your kids/family need help with at the current time – or what you want the kids to be working on. It could be morning or evening routines, getting to school on time, going to the bathroom on their own, etc. For simplicity, we made both boys have the same chart.
Deciding the Reward ⭐
In addition to wanting the boys to take more ownership around the house, I was also so tired of them asking “Can I watch TV?” No. “When can I watch TV?” Later. Over. And over. And over.
Additionally, Little I has been asking about how he can earn money around the house so I immediately knew what I wanted when it came to a reward: screen time and money.
Two problems solved. You want it? You work for it.
I’ve heard much debate on “should you pay your kids to do chores?” Some say no, kids should learn responsibility without being paid. Some say yes, it’s a great way for kids to earn their own money.
We settled on a hybrid. Once they get all 5 stars for the day can they can earn money for extra stars (or get extra screen time).
Is there a penalty if they don’t do all 5 stars?
Nope. This takes the pressure off everyone. But if they don’t do it, no TV/screens.
There have been very few non 5-star days.
Keep Changing it ‘Till You Get it Right
I’ll also share it took us a trial run before we got it right. We did one week on paper, made the changes, and then finalized it. We printed it, laminated it, and use a dry erase to mark it off each day.
Here’s what it looked like round 1. Since we were laminating them, we decided to do just one day at a time with both boys on one page. We also simplified the rewards part and added pictures for our 3 year old who’s not reading yet.
You could also easily do a chore chart on a white board, chalk board or what ever you have around the house.
Another Chore Chart Idea
Here’s the chart we used a couple of years ago when we needed to work on getting ready for school, bedtimes, and chores. Little O was just an infant, so this was just for our big kid, Little I, who was in Kindergarten at the time.
I will say this chart worked SO well for him, he didn’t watch TV for over a month because we wanted to save all his stars for a long movie with grandpa!
In the end, we offered to convert his stars to money because he had so many minutes saved up.
Have we mentioned he is our “natural saver”?
Will this last over the long run?
We’re curious and we’ll keep you up to date! So far, they love the structure, they are watching less TV, and we are all pitching in around the house – which ultimately means more time for all of us to connect.
Do you use a chore chart with your kids?
We’d love to hear what works for you (or didn’t work for you). Leave a comment!