If you're like me, you sometimes question if you're doing the "right thing" in raising your kids when it comes to chores. Questions like, "Should I require my kids to do chores? If yes, then, "What chores should they do? Should I pay them with cash to support money managing skills or reward with points toward screen time? Or maybe I should not pay or reward them at all but teach them that by doing chores it supports everyone in the family and produces important life skills instead of a sense of 'entitlement'? Or pay them, but not make it mandatory?" Also, "What am I teaching my kids if to them, it appears like it's 'parents vs. the kids' as we, the parents, are barking orders and not leading by example?" If you're looking for the right answer to all of these questions then I'm afraid you've come to the wrong place.But,if again you're like me, than maybe you just need a little guidance or examples of things to try when it comes to household work in your home. For me, I needed to answer some of those questions that I mentioned above. I do feel that it is important that my kids do chores without payment because that's real life and part of a bigger picture---helping others without expecting something in return, like that sense of "'entitlement" we mentioned above. On the other hand, I also feel that it's important that there should be a way for them to earn money in the home, because that too, is real life---working for a paycheck. I came to the conclusion after all my questions about chores, that I wanted both of those things, but not just that. I wanted to create something that wasn't just another chore chart only for my kids, but something that included my husband and I as well, to support the family values that we hold which is a "we're all in this together" type atmosphere. Another way to support that value was involving my children in the decision process of this family chore chart. I will admit that it was challenging at times, but in the end, I was proud to have them apart of it. My youngest was eager to help in the creation part. My middle child was not as eager or opinionated but didn't complain which was great, and my oldest told me what she thought (dislikes included quite frequently--you'll see a picture that verifies this) but she also had good thoughts and ideas, which was very helpful. They all contributed and we all lived to tell the tale and share our project with you.
Now let's get started!
Step 1: Create Lists & Budget
Begin by gathering a few things:
- Input from your family
Start by asking each family member, "What area do you appreciate clean at home?" This way you are creating an opportunity for your children to understand that housework is necessary to keep the area they chose clean, which benefits them, and not just the parent(s). Next, record each person's answer with paper and pencil, including areas that you want to add that maybe the kids didn't mention. To make things more simple, try to create the same number of areas as members in your household.
Here is an example of what my "family of 5" chose for our 5 areas:
- Living room
- Vacuum, Sweep & Mop
Now, ask your everyone in your home what they specifically like clean in the areas they chose. Then record on paper their response including the chores of your choice. Next, write how many times each chore needs to be done while making sure that all chores can be completed by each family member (or make a separate list for young children) in each "area". These will be the chores that will be mandatory every week for each child and adult (names rotated weekly) to complete, which helps keep each family member's chosen area clean.
Here's an example of what my family chose for weekly chores:
- Unload & load dishwasher at least (2 times)
- Help wash and/or dry dishes at least (1 time)
- Help with meal preparation at least (2 times)
- Straighten pillows, blankets & movies at the end of the night (5 times)
- Straighten shoes on rack, make sure all toys are put away at the end of the night (5 times)
- Dust (1 time)
- Upstairs: Wipe counter, sink & toilet (1 time)
- Upstairs: Wipe mirror, refill toilet paper (1 time)
- Basement: Wipe counter, sink, toilet & mirror, refill toilet paper (1 time)
- Gather & sort all dirty laundry (2 times)
- Match socks (1 time)
- Help fold clothes (2 times)
- Sweep living room, kitchen (2 times)
- Mop living room & kitchen (1 time)
- Sweep & Mop upstairs bathroom (1 time)
- Vacuum living room rugs & hallway (2 times) Bedrooms (1 time)
I also included 2 tasks under each of the 5 areas:
- Clean Room (1 time)
- Put away folded clothes (1-2 times)
which have always been a mandatory weekly chore in our home.
Next, decide on the amount to be budgeted every month for chore stick earnings and when "pay day" will be (we chose Friday). When you have your set budgeted amount, divide that amount by the amount of kids you have, then divide that amount by 4 (weeks in a month), which will result in a maximum amount that each child can potentially earn every week. Now if your final weekly amount doesn't amount to a whole dollar amount, feel free to round up or down to make it easier for you and the kids to calculate. Next, make a list of certain chores that you are willing to pay your kids for; some tasks that could possibly be hired out, and/or simple household chores that still help out the family. Then, write down the amount each chore is worth, how many sticks of each "chores for cash" you need to make, all while keeping in mind your budget. Next, label all chores on your list, that are worth the same amount, a color. For example, the word "Blue" is written beside all $1.00 chores; "Yellow" is written beside all $2.00 chores, and so on. Finally, decide what colors you will use to classify each chore. For example, on my chart, "Washing windows" is worth $1.00. I chose blue to be the color to coordinate with all $1.00 chores. (This will make sense later when we create our chore sticks and use the matching color to label the individual chores.)
Up to this point, you have completed your list of weekly family chores AND your list of chores for the chore sticks, including payment amounts, the amount of sticks to create, and color choices that will coordinate with each chore stick.
Up next, finalizing you chore chart!
Step 2: Combine Lists & Print
Now is where all your hard work and research is put to good use! I decided to type my chart on the computer using Excel, but feel free to hand-write it. If you do choose to create it by hand, I would recommend using card stock for more durability.
First, you'll want to plan where you will display your chart. In my kitchen, I have a chalkboard attached to the wall that we don't use regularly like I had hoped. So, to make good use of this space, I decided to magnetize the charts and all needed materials to adhere to the chalkboard. Another option would be to tape or pin the chart (keeping in mind the chore sticks we will make later will need to be with it or at least nearby) in a place that is convenient for the family to manage, but most importantly, a safe place that all your children can reach and mark off chores they have done throughout the week.
Materials Needed for Chart:
- Printer (optional)
- Printer paper/card stock
- Colored markers
- Black Marker
If you are using the computer, type all the information you have gathered for your chart using a program that works for you; the family chores AND your chore sticks for cash options with all other important information that you have written down: the max weekly earnings per child, the day of the week chosen for pay day, etc.). This can be done in a way that makes sense to you, but try to make the chart as organized as possible for managing effectively and for the kids to understand.
Another detail you'll want to pay attention to is when you're entering your lists into the computer or hand-writing it. Make sure to leave space for each family member's name above the "area" that they will be in charge of for the week, while also leaving room and creating space vertically underneath each weekly chore to hand-write a black box for each time the chore must be completed in a single week.
After proofreading and finalizing the details, it's time to print! After your chart is printed, draw the number of small boxes (with a black marker) that matches the number of times each chore must be done weekly, in the space provided under each weekly chore.This is where everyone will mark an "x" when completed and be able to track what has already done or still needs to be done for the week.
Finally, you'll want to create a nice visual on your chart that will coordinate with the "chore sticks for cash" (we'll make these in the next step). To do this, you'll need markers that are the same colors as the color choices you chose for the chore stick amounts. Next, circle or highlight the words--red, green, blue, yellow, etc.--and numerical amount for each chore stick on the chart with the matching colored marker. For example; circle or highlight the written word "Purple" with the purple marker and on the $0.50 chores that are under the "Purple" category, circle or highlight the $0.50 amount in purple as well; repeating the same steps for all other colors.
Now we're ready for the next stage of creating our project: Chore sticks!
Step 3: Create Chore Sticks
Materials Needed for Chore Sticks:
- Large craft sticks (0.72 in x 5.86 in)
- Colored Markers
- Black Marker
- Cups or containers to hold sticks (one for each kid and one extra to store all sticks)
- Labels (you can even cut out a piece a paper and use tape)
- Magnetic tape
This is where I asked for the kids help again. You can tell from one of the images that my daughter wasn't thrilled, especially at first, but I she warmed up after a while.
Creating the chore sticks & labeling cups:
- First, you'll want to reference back to your printed chart and write on one side of each stick the chore description and on the other side, the dollar amount that chore is worth.
- Next, color the tips of each stick (both sides) with the matching color you picked to coordinate with the written chore on the chore chart.
- On one of the labels, write "Pick a Chore". Then attach it to one of the cups. (This is where you will store all the chore sticks available to choose from.)
- Have each child write their name on a label and attach it to their cup.
Get ready to display your work!
Step 4: Magnetize Your Materials
What you'll need:
- Plastic sleeve covers
- Magnetic tape with adhesive
- Dry-erase magnetic marker(s)
- Dry-eraser (optional)
- Completed chore chart(s), chore sticks and cups
Finally, you're ready to display your Chore Chart for the Family & Chore Sticks for Cash! Again, I magnetized my project, but feel free to adjust to what will work for your household (pinning, taping, or using Velcro adhesive strips will also work, but make sure that there is room to include the cups for the chore sticks with the chart or at least be able to store them near it).
Attaching your chore chart with magnets:
- First, cut the magnetic strips into three 2-inch pieces.
- Peel backing off, one at a time, then attach each strip to the top of the plastic sleeve cover--one on each side and one in the center, pressing firmly.
- Insert each chart into the plastic sleeve cover.
- Attach to chalkboard, refrigerator or any other magnetic object.
Attaching your chore stick cups with magnets:
- Cut magnetic strips in pieces to fit the length of each cup that will be attached for display.
- Peel backing from strip and attach to cups, pressing firmly.
- Attach each cup ("Pick a Chore" cup included) to chalkboard or fridge, under the "Family Chore Chart".
- Place chore sticks in "Pick a Chore" cup.
For convenience, attach your dry-erase magnetic marker(s) with your project for easy access.
Step 5: Finishing Touches
Now that you've displayed your project, you can add your finishing touches! Use a dry-erase marker to write each family member's name above the area they will be in charge of for the week. When that week is over (on pay day), erase all names and check marks; then rewrite everyone's name above the next area to the right on the chart , so every adult and child knows which area they will be in charge of for the next week.
Step 6: Start Using!
Now you're ready to put all this hard work to good use. Gather your family to walk through all the final details, making sure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to what needs to be done. Remind the kids, that once they have chosen a chore to complete for cash, they must first complete it, then find that chore in the cup labeled "Pick a Chore" and put that chore stick in their cup. They can decide to do the chore sticks throughout the week and continue to do this until they reach the maximum dollar amount for the week, but they also must be aware that the chores, on the family chore chart for their week, must be completed before they get can receive payment for the chore sticks they selected. Once you have verified that they have finished all their chores on the family chore chart by making sure all boxes have been marked as "done" on their list for the week, add up the dollar amount of all the sticks in each child's cup and pay them accordingly on the day you have chosen for "pay day".