Updated: Nov 5, 2019
I'm going to give you my exact chart I use for my kids, that keeps my house feeling open and clean. HOWEVER--- you know I LOVE to know WHY things are the way they are. WHY should our kids do chores? Why should our homes be organized and clear of clutter? Why should we consider a chore chart?
Here are my observations, as well as evidence I've read and heard:
Kids who do chores feel more valued in the home as they are contributing
Kids who do chores are offered a chance to learn the value of work and finishing a task
When kids are asked to do a task, and report back, it give opportunity to build personal integrity for the child and builds trust between child and task giver
Kids who do chores often have a stronger bond with parents who take the time to help teach them how to do a task and praise them when they do their best
Families who work together to improve their home have stronger positive bonds
Kids who do chores are more self sufficient adults
Having a clean, organized home promotes a feeling of security
Children who live in organized, clutter free homes tend to feel empowered vs overwhelmed with their responsibilities (homework, relationships, activities, etc)
Children who have daily routines that include taking care of themselves and their surroundings not only teach them healthy habits, but it affects their overall feeling of security and promotes greater daily productivity and valuable creativity
Children who do chores and participate in home improvement and are lovingly praised for their efforts have higher self esteem
If you are like me, when you read statements like the ones above, I am definitely feeling more motivated to stick to my chore chart efforts! And YES. We need motivation as parents to even begin a family chore schedule, and to reinforce it OFTEN. Even though my kids have had a chore chart consistently, I STILL find myself needing to remind kids daily to go through the list and report back to me when the task is finished. But you know what?
We have four chore charts total. I have two daily (and I call them MORNING) lists we work from at our house a personal list and the daily house chore list, a Saturday chore list for the more rigorous cleaning, as well as Monthly chores (these are the deep cleaning type). The personal morning list includes: say prayers, make bed, tidy up the bedroom, get dressed, eat breakfast, brush teeth. My kids do these things before they start their Daily chores usually.
Let's move on to the daily chore chart for the home and I'll touch on how I organized the Saturday and Monthly chores as well as laundry at the end.
How to get started on the DAILY CHORE chart:
1) Think of the BASIC chores that need to be done around the house DAILY to simply keep the house feeling clean and list them out. At our house, these are:
Sweep kitchen floor (which, at our house includes picking up toys, shoes, etc that are on the floor)
Tidy up and Vacuum main living room and hall area
Take out main kitchen garbage and outside garbage on Tuesdays
Tidy up Downstairs Main living room (this has our TV area, workout space and toy room)
Family Dinner dishes/counter tops
Tidy up bathrooms and clean sink, faucet and toilet
Disinfect all light switches and door knobs with disinfectant wipe
(NOTE--- I did not include beds and rooms, because these are done on their personal lists)
2) Think of your children, their ages, abilities and what they can reasonably accomplish on your list. For our family my children start chores at age 3, and depending on the job and their abilities the job list grows until they can do any chore by age 7. They can do their personal list by age 3 with a little reminding, and they start with the light switches and door knobs for the daily family chore chart. By age 4 they are paired with a sibling to empty the dishwasher and do the family meal dishes, and by 5 they are doing more items on the Saturday chores, and by 6 they have regular Saturday chores and by 7 they can do anything on the lists. For reference: My kids ages currently: almost 15, almost 12, 10, 6 and 2 1/2 yrs.
3) Decide how you want the chores to go. For us, we have Daily home chores done Monday- Thursday on a rotating schedule as you see below. The kids LOVE having "Free Chore Fridays." (Its TOTALLY the little things!) If you have very young kids I suggest that you start with the personal lists. See an example of a pre-reading personal list below.
NOTICE that I have my 6 year old son only doing light switches and door knobs downstairs on Thursdays and doesn't do the bathrooms or have a Dinner Dishes night. That will change though, as he turns 7 this year. Audree turns 3 this winter and will start showing up on this chart at that time. She is already asking what her "job" is each morning though as she sees the older ones looking at the chart each morning and doing theirs. :)
Here is the PRE-reading personal list example:
4) POST THE LIST in an easily visible place. For us, it is the refrigerator.
For their personal lists print it out and post the list in their room by the light switch (a place they will see daily), or inside the closet door if they can read- or use simple clipart graphics instead of words if your kids aren't yet reading. Also post their personal list on the fridge or other prominent area that they will be reminded of and which you can point at and ask them about if they are all under age 5/6.
5) Be sure to take a day to go through each task with your family and explain HOW it is to be done. Your kids WANT to please you. They really do want to do it right. Take time to SHOW them, and to even print a step-by-step list of instruction taped inside the bathroom or entertainment center door. And when the job isn't done right, take them gently and explain how they can change their actions to get it done better and WHY it needs to be done that way, and go over the steps again. It is SO important that you enable your kids "WIN" at being self sufficient anytime you can by teaching them how to do things on their own through repetition with love.
6) Make it part of your morning routine. :)
Repeat and repeat and repeat. Remind remind remind.
----> As a side note, that has served me WELL, I offer ZERO allowance $ for chores.
I believe (from reading parenting books and from observance of my own kids and from my experience growing up and from being a manager in the workforce) that there are certain responsibilities that people just need to understand that they must do without pay. There are certain behaviors, like cleaning up after yourself, in a space you are offered to live/work/be safe/study that someone else owns that should just be cultivated into your character because you are grateful for it. My kids do not get paid to take care of their own crap. My kids do not get paid to LIVE here and take responsibility for their stuff that they NEED. What kind of message does that send??? Not one that will serve them in the world. SO----- if they finish their regular chores out of duty because they simply live here and then want to go above and BEYOND by doing chores that are NOT on the list, I have a "Chores you can get paid for" list. These are things like weeding garden beds, washing the cars, cleaning out the garage, and others. They get paid what I think it is worth based on their effort and the results. They also have money opportunities with childcare when my husband and I need them to babysit their siblings while we work or go on dates. We both work from home most of the year, so this works out awesome for our kids who want to earn $ and for us to get some productive work time in and a great night out whenever we need it. Other than that they only get $ from us as their parents for birthdays or Christmas, if they specify they only want $, or their own entrepreneurial enterprise efforts.
For the SATURDAY job chart, this rotates MONTHLY.
I will specify the chores done by each person by letters A-E, (mine are divided into 5= 4 kids that are old enough and 1 parent section). YES, my husband and I are on the Saturday chore chart. I think that having us on the chore chart has been SO key in our kids respecting the chore chart and understanding that we also have chores and what they are. I'll address LAUNDRY at the end.
Chores on the SATURDAY chart:
a) Deep clean downstairs: cleaning and vacuuming all edges, behind and under furniture and dusting, organizing game and video consoles etc. Organize and clean Play Room and organize exercise equipment. Take out all garbages throughout the house and replace liners.
b) Wipe out inside and clean outside of microwave, wipe down front and top of stove, wipe down dishwasher and refrigerator fronts. Vacuum out shoe bins by front door and organize front door coat closet and vacuum stairs and sweep/mop entryway.
c) Sweep and mop all tile in the upstairs kitchen/mud room/laundry room. Deep clean bathrooms including mirrors, sink, counter tops, faucet, floors, toilets- inside and out and put anything away that does not belong.
d) Vacuum out, clean out, and wipe down inside of family car (GMC Denali), dust all pictures and decorations on walls upstairs, Deep clean upstairs living and hall area including under and behind furniture and all edges.
e) Tidy and Vacuum toddlers room, parents room, and office upstairs. Organize and wipe down laundry room, wash inside of windows and sliding door as needed. MOW LAWN (only late April- Mid October)
Each month I simply assign a letter to what kid will do the group of chores. And it rotates so everyone has a chance to experience each group. Of course, the younger one who is only 6 doesn't do certain chores like bathrooms or windows or mowing the lawn- and I simply assign those out as needed depending on what my younger son is assigned. My kids don't complain too much honestly. We like to blast fun music during Saturday job time and often have a fun activity to do as a family afterward to help speed things up. Something simple like a movie out, or a picnic in the park or family swim night at the aquatic center or we promise a family night out on Monday where several family fun places have a FAMILY night rate for Monday's. Make it fun whenever you can!
ONCE a month, I assign just ONE extra job on the last Saturday of the month. These chores are:
Empty and clean the refrigerator, inside and out.
Empty and clean and re-organize pantry- floor to ceiling.
Wash out all trash cans in the house- inside and out.
Gently wash all dining room chairs and bar stools and table legs and woodwork in kitchen with the correct washing liquid (double check with mom and dad).
Wash all baseboards in the entire house using a soft cloth and toothbrush.
This is how our home gets cleaned. Anything beyond this, my husband and I tackle when we can.
If you don't have a system in place now- it will be a little crazy for the first 2 months. But I guarantee it is worth it and it works and it WILL help your kids have higher self esteem, you'll have better relationships as a family, and you will feel like your home is a well oiled machine. :)
Some of you have asked me how I organize our laundry.
Well, I have my kids start doing their OWN laundry by age 9/10.
It's true. When I tell people this, they often get wide eyes and shake their head, intended to let me know that that sounds unreasonable. But I disagree. I think kids of this age are totally capable of starting a washing machine and sorting their clothes by darks and lights and folding their clothes and putting them away. By age 4-5 they are helping me fold and can totally put their clothes away.
I do NOT buy fabrics that are dry clean only unless it is DIRE (like a wedding must have or something). I only buy wrinkle free and color fast items for my kids so they don't have to sort beyond darks and lights. I will rotate their laundry for them (they usually start their laundry in the morning before school) and they fold and put it away.
My husband and I do our own laundry, and I do the toddler's laundry whenever it is needed. If there is a day when there are multiple loads of laundry going (usually Sunday- since that is the day I do my own and my husbands' and the toddlers) the loads to fold become the thing to do during a late night teen discussion (these are happening more and more) or family movie. My laundry room is never backed up, and I do NOT allow it to ever become so. Once a load is dried, it is out in the living room by the stairs so the kids see it first thing after school, and they know what to do with it. :)
ROUTINE my friends.
Consistency RULES house keeping!
I hope that these tips and ideas and resources help you keep your house organized, clean, and a place where your family LOVES to hang out with you. And that YOU as the parent don't get stuck trying to do everything on your own. Your kids ARE capable. You get to show them HOW.
I KNOW that if you found value in this post- that you are a mom who LOVES to feel organized like I do and MEAL planning is one of those other parts to keeping the house running smoothly that has been KEY to our family staying healthy amid busy schedules! Let me share my skill of MEAL PLANNING with you using this FREE Downloadable Meal Plan Blueprint showing exactly how I meal plan every single week for my family. It will give you prompts and space to write YOUR family's meals and make an effective, budget pleasing grocery list too!