I must be honest and say that I hate chores…mopping, cleaning bathrooms and toilets, vacuuming, dusting, and I can’t stand windows or doing dishes. I love having a clean house and if I know my efforts will be fruitful, I can put up with the chores. That said, I am not a fan or in favor of cleaning up or picking up after someone who just assumes someone else will do it. Last time I checked, nowhere did I sign up to be a maid.
I’m not sure if I am from a generation or culture that is different from mainstream today, but when I was a little girl we had set assigned chores. My parents decided the chores my brothers and I would do and we were fully expected to have chores – non-paid – because we were a part of the family. We were expected to do them when we were asked to do them AND we were expected to do them to our parents’ standard. The expectation was we would get them done, done complete and correctly, and nothing less was accepted.
This may be why to this day I hate chores because I almost always got stuck with bathrooms. It’s also where I learned the value of a job well done, helped develop a solid work ethic, a sense of responsibility, an understanding that doing it right the first time saves time and community (as each member was a contributing member to the whole). As a result, our family had a cleaned and organized home AND we had more family time since everyone, not just one person, was responsible for getting the job done.
As a result of both of the above, I developed two strong beliefs
- Chores help children learn fundamentals to becoming productive and contributing members of our world.
- If you are equally responsible a task and held to a standard (i.e. – someone else is NOT your servant), that you are more likely to (1) appreciate the work it takes to complete the task and (2) you are less likely to take that task for granted.
Now remember, I said I hate chores so I absolutely did not want to get stuck with cleaning the bathroom every week. I kept seeing these things called chore cards for little kids. Then it hit me! My family needed chore cards!
Okay, my family consists of my adult husband, my at the time almost 15 son, two Yorkies, a Persian and me. So it’s not that we need chore cards in the same way little kids did…okay maybe if the Yorkies could read and had opposable thumbs, then maybe they would as they are permanent toddlers. No, we needed chore cards so no one would get stuck with the same chore each week AND so everyone learned what each chore entailed – what effort was involved to keep our house in order. Additionally, for my 15 year old, it hopefully would help him learn a “good work ethic” rather than “do it as fast as you can and if it’s done wrong, it doesn’t matter because it’s done”.
Here was how I was going to use chore cards. You know the magician that says, “Pick a card. Any card.” Well that was going to be how we selected our chores.
So I started creating my cards. I did this by going through what I did on a weekly basis to keep our house clean and I made a list. This list included:
- Defuzz Furniture (We have a Persian and this is a must)
- After Dinner Clean Up
- Hardwood Mopping
- Kitchen Cleaning
- Put Away Clean Dishes
- Cleaning Bathrooms
- Mowing the Lawn
- Outdoor plant maintenance
- Windows and Glass
- Dog Care
From here, I made the cards. I choose to use Photoshop but you can do this in Word, PowerPoint or any program that allows to insert clipart and make squares. Since it was for private use I pulled images off of royalty free sites and included the cards because, well you know, they had to look cute. I even found a Yorkie in a tub graphic for my dog care card. On each square, I wrote the chore with a description of what the task entailed.
For example: Chore: Dog Care – Brush teeth and fur daily, bath weekly, take dogs outside to potty regularly
Chore: Trash – As trash gets full, take out & replace bags, collect trash from all rooms and put into trash pick-up bins, take trash cans to the curb on Monday for pick up and bring them in on Tuesday night
I printed them on card stock and cut them out. Now it was a matter of determining how this was going to work. The idea was to have assigned chores but to make sure that no one had the same chore two weeks in a row – variety helps when the tasks are not so pleasant. Trust me, if you are stuck cleaning the bathrooms every week, it gets old fast. I also wanted everyone to learn every task involved in keeping a house clean and maintained. Again, if you have to do it yourself, you appreciate the work involved and are not as likely to take it for granted. So here is what I came up with:
- On a set night, say Sunday night, we would draw our chores for the week.
- Cards would be drawn one at a time taking turns until all cards had been selected.
- The chores would be that person’s for the entire week.
- If you have a chore that requires someone else’s chore to be done first, you must coordinate with them.
- If you pick the same chore you had last week, then you picked a different chore.
This obviously is more driven toward a child that is older. However, I look forward to adapting the concept for smaller children. I think if you were to use a concept like “Big Kid Chores” and “Little Kid Chores” with little kid chores designed around their abilities for their age, then the same concept could work. As a younger child they may need more assistance and reminders but in the end as they grow they are learning the skills needed to help them be independent and productive parts of society.
I will say this, using the chore cards have ensured the house gets cleaned. When we don’t, the chores don’t all get done. And for me, getting them done is a huge plus!