Being Confident of This

Grace for the work-in-progress woman

Sanity Saving Chore Charts

on May 23, 2013

Sanity Saving Chore Charts

Last summer we sold our home and moved to a new town so that we could live in the community that we are currently ministering to.   We were very blessed to be able to move into a larger home with plenty of open space downstairs.  I just knew it would be perfect for the kids and perfect for entertaining people from our church, as well as new neighbors and friends.  What I didn’t count on was the time it would take to adjust to cleaning and maintaining a larger home!

Perhaps it wasn’t only the larger house but also the fact that we’d spent the previous year living with the bare minimum as most of our possessions were packed away in an attempt to present a tidy, de-cluttered home-for-sale to possible buyers. When we unpacked all of our “stuff” at our new home, it was a lot more to keep track of and we had not yet established where each item belonged.  Perhaps part of the problem was that our children, particularly our then 3-year-old twins, had grown a lot, which meant bigger messes, more loads of laundry, and additional cooking for those growing appetites.  Perhaps it wasn’t the smartest decision to also take on a new pet so soon after moving (our beloved cat, Cheddar).

Whatever factors were involved, I quickly found myself overwhelmed by the cleaning projects that come with maintaining an older, farm-style home that had not been lived in for at least a year, if not longer.

Nevertheless, I struggled for months with being overwhelmed by the housework and feeling like I was always “behind.”  Because I felt frustrated and overwhelmed, every little mess the kids made irritated me – every spilled cup, every toy left out, every article of dirty clothing on the floor – and I often found myself grumping at them even as I was telling myself to have patience.  I felt like I was losing my mind!  It was as if I was stuck in Romans 7, knowing what I wanted to do, but feeling utterly incapable of doing it.  A storm raged within, threatening to unleash itself at any given moment.

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So, after many tears of frustration and quite a bit of prayer, my husband and I sat down to discuss the situation in hopes of finding a solution.  We decided it was high time to expect a little more of our four children.  You see, our children have always had chores, but we both admitted that we’d become a little lax in our supervision of them, which was understandable.  It had been a busy year and a half of selling our old home and of settling in, not only to our new home, but also to new ministries we were attempting at our church.

We decided that the best way to save my sanity was to create a new chore system!  I set about researching some age appropriate chores since we have such a wide age-span in our family, and we quickly realized that we failed to see how much our children had grown.  I don’t mean that we failed to notice the obvious that they were taller, older, but that we failed to notice they were now more mature and more capable of handling more difficult tasks.

For our younger two children, we chose this flip-up system with pictures of each daily chore they have.  When all chores are finished and flipped up, they can see their name.  Need a little help getting started? You can check out my pinterest board  (http://pinterest.com/stults6/parenting/)  for DIY tutorials that I used as a base for building my own.  (Also, my amazing sister has taken these flip charts a step further with some great ideas at her new blog Love Notes.  In addition to the flip charts, she utilizes a morning and evening checklist and a chore jar, where children get to choose an extra chore to complete and receive a nice prize.)

Preschool chores focus mainly on taking care of the body, and beginning to take responsibility for their own messes.  For our children, we chose to incorporate things that we would like to become daily habits such as: brushing teeth, making bed, getting dressed, clearing dishes from the table, picking up laundry, and picking up toys.

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They both remain very enthusiastic about flipping up the chores they have done each day, even after several months have passed!  In fact, our daughter often wants to do her bedtime chores (laundry) in the morning because she wants her name to be complete, and sometimes she even reminds us of a chore they haven’t yet done. On the other hand, our youngest son is a good follower and enjoys the praise of a job well done. 🙂

Our older boys have a much more complex chore chart that is laminated so it can be re-used.  We use dry-erase markers to check things off.  One of the things I like most about the chart for the older boys is that it is divided into categories that emphasize different areas of their personal responsibilities.

The categories for their charts include taking care of: my body, my room, our home, our vehicles, our pets, and my relationship with God. They have daily responsibilities as well as a few weekly responsibilities.  Some of the weekly responsibilities have options to allow for personal choice, and the tasks in that area of the chart are more difficult for our oldest son, who is 13.  Again, if you’re not sure where to start, take a look at my pintrest board.  The chart we came up with was a combination of several different ideas.

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(One important note: the “Taking care of my relationship with God” area is included mostly as a reminder to our older boys. Honestly, I wasn’t really sure whether to include it or not, but we decided to.  Since that relationship is personal in nature, we encourage them to make it a priority daily, but we don’t force them to. We don’t want time with God to be assigned a “task” status.)

In our home, chores are part of being a family and working together toward a common goal, which is to be good stewards of the material things God has blessed us with.  We believe that doing chores helps our children to learn personal responsibility as well as team-workFor that reason, we do not pay our children an allowance in relation to their chores.  Instead, we reserve allowance for teaching financial stewardship and how money works in general, but that is just our family preference.

However, our older boys were understandably less excited about the new charts, and our 7-year-old was so overwhelmed by the change that he was practically in tears.  (What he didn’t realize is that most of the things on his list were things he already does on a daily basis, like brushing his teeth and making his bed.) In an attempt to lighten the mood and help them adjust to additional responsibilities, we added a bonus for good attitudes and for helpfulness without prompting – an additional 50 cents on their allowance.

Now, for our new chore system to function well, we realized that we would need a consequence for those times when our older boys failed to complete their chores.  We wanted the consequence to be more of a learning opportunity (“the punishment fits the crime” approach).  Eventually we settled on this method:  if there is a pattern of a chore going undone, then the consequence would be to complete the undone chore, as well as an additional one.

I love this solution!  It simultaneously helps me and provides an unpleasant experience that they don’t wish to repeat. I’m happy to report that we rarely have to enforce consequences with the chores because the boys really, really dislike doing extra chores.

Although we’ve had a few bumps along the way, our house has been much tidier in general, considering we have four children living here.  I no longer feel overwhelmed on a daily basis.  Additionally, I’m less uptight about the messes the little ones make because I know they’ll be picking them up before bed.  My sanity has been restored!!  Perhaps most importantly, I know that developing these good habits now will benefit them greatly as they grow into adulthood.

Although initially the chore charts mean a little more work for us parents in supervising and making sure tasks are completed (or even teaching a new skill), the goal is to eventually make parenting a little easier in this area of keeping a tidy home. Our hope is that one day we won’t even have to ask them if they have completed their chores because checking the chart on their own will become so habitual that they will no longer need our reminders.

So, if you’ve been feeling overwhelmed by your housework, feeling taken for granted as the one who cleans up after everyone, or feeling like you just might lose your mind, consider the following questions.

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  1. Who does the chores?  Are you expecting enough help from your children, or do they think it is just Mom’s job to clean up after everyone all of the time?  Or do you often take on the majority of the work because it’s easier to just “do it yourself?”  I admit to being guilty as charged on both accounts previously.  However, especially if you have sons, try to consider how their future wives might feel about this unhealthy portrait of what a wife and mother is “supposed” to do.  At the same time, think of the message you are sending your young daughters.  Yes, we are called to be homemakers, managers of the household, but that does not mean we have to do everything on our own! 🙂
  2. Are the chores age-appropriate?  If, like me, you failed to realize how “big” your babies are getting, you might want to rethink your expectations of them. If you are unsure of what chores are appropriate for your children, a quick google search or pintrest search will return a wealth of information!
  3. Are the chores focused on teaching your children personal responsibility? One of our goals with the new charts was to emphasize the stewardship aspect of chores. We want our children to learn to take care of their things and the things we share commonly, such as our home and vehicles.
  4. Are the chores fairly distributed?  Yes, older children are capable of handling more responsibilities than younger children.  However, avoid burdening one child with the majority of responsibility.  For example, when in a hurry to tidy up previously, I would ask our oldest son to pick up the toys. He is generally helpful and I knew he would do a good job.  However, when my husband and I looked at teaching personal responsibility, I realized I was making a mistake.  It wasn’t really his mess to clean up; therefore, it was unfair of me to ask him to take care of something his younger brother and sister should really be responsible for.  With the new chore system, we really worked at making sure he wasn’t bearing a disproportionate load just because he is older and is more compliant.  Additionally, make sure you don’t put off the majority of the housework onto your children. Mom should have her own set of chores to do (Dad too)!  Lead by example. 🙂

For now I am very happy (and sane!) with our current chore system, but I’m sure after a time we’ll need to look at it again and make changes. I wouldn’t mind trying out a few different methods to give the children a variety, to keep it fresh and exciting.  However, the lessons we learned about what to expect from our children will remain helpful and our over-all goals will probably change very little. Thankfully, I now feel like I”m living less in Romans 7 and more in Romans 8 (the whole “we are more than conquerors” chapter!).  If you don’t currently have a chore system in place, why not give one a try? It just might save your sanity!

Jen 🙂

What methods do you use for teaching responsibility and team-work in the home?  Give us your best advice in the comments!

For more great ideas on how to maximize the flip charts for younger children, check out this blog:

http://sarahjofairchild.wordpress.com/2013/06/11/bogo-mommyhood-chore-charts/

You might find this post linked up at any of these lovely blogs.

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22 responses to “Sanity Saving Chore Charts

  1. paula says:

    These are such great tips!!! so glad I found you through the desire to inspire link up!!! 🙂

    I’m pinning this for future reference, my kiddos are still a bit small for formal/official chores like this but I feel like in the next few months my oldest will be read! 🙂

    • Thanks, Paula. I am so glad it was helpful to you. I can’t take credit for all of the ideas because much of the inspiration came from Pintrest, but sometimes it helps to see how it actually works in a family.
      Jen 🙂

  2. Jessi Williams says:

    Thanks Jen! This was very helpful. We have recently realized that our children are very competitive. They LOVE a good game, or contest. SO! Used that to my advantage. We use a point system for school as well as for chores, personal responsibility items, and behavior. So i turned it into a semester long contest. We are getting ready to end our spring semester and start our summer contest. At the end of each contest we have a party, go to the park for a party in the park, spend a day watching movies, or whatever activity I choose. Each contest the chores change for each child, but I keep the points general so it’s not sided to the oldest who does do a little more. I have been using our white board and honestly it works because it’s right in front of them all the time, but it also takes up the whole board…so I can’t use it for anything else. I think I’m going to move our chart to print, then put it in a sheet protector so we can re-use! 🙂 And I LOVE the idea of flipping the name for the younger ones. I may use this approach for Teagan, I think she would respond very well to that.

    • Jessi, I’m so glad you “visited.” I love the idea of competition and may use that when the twins get a little older. Honestly, Micah and Gracie LOVE to flip their charts – it has become a highlight of the day. Who knew??!! 🙂 We have a white board as well because I am attempting to be more organized with scheduling and meal planning. I keep the older boys laminated charts at the bottom of the white board. A sheet protector is a great idea!
      Jen 🙂

  3. Jessi Williams says:

    Oh and the winner of the contest chooses the dessert or special snack for our party! 🙂 They LOVE this.

    • Thanks! However, I can’t take all of the credit. Most of the inspiration came from Pintrest and then working together with my husband to decide what our ultimate goals are and what chores will help achieve those goals. Thanks for stopping by!
      Jen 🙂

  4. Mary @ Woman to Woman says:

    These are wonderful ideas! Our children are now grown, but I remember when I finally realized that they were capable of accomplishing much more than I thought! We had a ‘Helps’ folder with daily and weekly helps. It worked out great! Our daughter-in-law has thanked me several times for teaching our son to clean, do dishes, do laundry, and generally ‘help’ out!
    You’re doing a great job!
    Blessings to you ~ Mary

    • Thanks for the encouragement, Mary! We do our best to raise our children in the ways of the Lord, and we trust Him for the gaps that we leave in our imperfections.
      Jen 🙂

  5. Sarah says:

    I loved the flip-up chart as well! I kind of want one with my name on it, or as many chores as I could label for the daily routine maybe mine could spell out “motherly awesomeness” or something like that!! 🙂 I am working on getting ready for summer with all five kids home and prepping the oldest two for first grade and I remember you saying you had reading minutes as part of the “chore” one time? I want to include things like that to keep their minds busy. Thanks Jen!!

    • Thanks, Sarah! The reading minutes are not part of their chores, but part of a summer routine I’m hoping to try this year. The goal for it will be to keep their minds sharp (and avoid losing skills) while also keeping boredom at bay. Maybe I’ll have to write a post about it?? 🙂

  6. Amy Delmanto says:

    Thanks for linking up at Mommy Monday! I love that the charts “flip up”

  7. Love this! There’s a new link-up party going on at One Sharendipity Place and we would love for you to join us! Here’s the link if you want to come: http://thet2women.com/welcome-to-one-sharendipity-place-link-up-4/

  8. sue says:

    I really love this (and that’s coming from an x-teacher 🙂 I’m so glad we found your blog!! Thanks for linking up with us at One Sharendipity Place this weekend!
    Sue @thet2women.com

  9. […]  I see how the post about  being a Transformer convicted me.  I see that the biggest flaw in our Sanity Saving Chore Charts is whether or not we as parents are […]

  10. […] I would love to hear what has worked (and what has not!) for the kiddos in your home! Don’t forget to check out Jen’s blog for more creative ideas on organizing household responsibilities and download a free pattern for creating your own flip-up chore chart from her post: Sanity Saving Chore Charts […]

  11. […] Sanity Saving Chore Charts (confidentingrace.wordpress.com) […]

  12. […] Welcome! Thanks for stopping by to party. Check out this week’s awesome features – these girls really inspired me! Then, link up some of your own projects and your post will automatically be visible on 4 blogs! 1 party, 4 blogs, every Wednesday night at 9pm Eastern time. Be sure to check in with each hosting blog to see if you have been featured! Paint Dipped Basket DIY Chalkboard Free Printable Chalkboard Labels Pallet Clock Dollar Store Fall Garland Sanity Saving Chore Charts […]

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