I should stop being surprised at the excuses my children come up with for NOT doing work.
– My legs are tired.
– I’m feeling sweaty.
– I just did chores last week.
– I’d rather play Barbies.
– My sister isn’t doing her chores.
– If the world ended tomorrow, would cleaning my room be the last thing you want me to do?
Or, let’s say I convince them to be excited to do chores, because I don’t want them to become completely entitled teenagers and adults. They get off to a great start and then, in a few minutes, I go to check on their progress. That’s when I notice that they managed to get out all the cleaning supplies, wet the wash cloths, drag out the vacuüm, BUT … nothing has actually been cleaned and they are playing with Barbies, like there is no tomorrow.
There comes an age when a child really should be able to complete some chores without constant chaperoning. (Or there is a time in every mother’s life when she deserves a few minutes of peace while her children are off being productive.) I’ve tried lots of approaches over the years (as in every single chart and do-hicky there is), and I have finally landed on one that has worked for almost a year and it still is going strong. I think it works well because it is so flexible and can change over time as needed.
My inspiration for this method was at church – where a lot of good inspiration usually comes. The leaders of the children’s ministry at church use a jar with popsicle sticks to pick participants. They write kids names on the sticks and use a marker to make one of the ends of the stick green. They draw a stick out that has the green end sticking up, give that child a turn, and then put the stick back in the jar with the green side down. When there are no more green ends sticking up, all the sticks are turned back over, re-setting everyone’s chances of being chosen.
Isn’t that a perfect system for kids chores too? I think so!
I put all of my kids chores on over-sized popsicle sticks with cute paper strips glued around one end. This method is totally flexible to the time you have on different days for chores. We were in a routine of doing chores after school, before it was free-play time. During the summer, we do chore sticks before we go to the pool. Throughout the week, have your kids pull a stick out and complete the chores. Whatever sticks are left at the end of the week get finished on Saturday, and then all the chores are re-set each Monday.
I use different color paper on some of my chore sticks for the team chores. Maybe the most obvious thing I’ve ever written: team chores are things all of my kids do together. I give them direction each day on what color stick to pull out, though that isn’t necessary and I don’t think I’ll do that forever.
To see my list of chores I put on the sticks, links to posts about specific ones, and explanations behind some of them, go here.
The plan is simple. Simple enough to actually pull off! And we’ve pulled it off for almost a year … SUCCESS!!
**********Following UPDATE on November 8th, 2012*****************
I changed up the chores my kids do to the following new chore sticks. Chore sticks are still going strong and are one of my biggest secrets to keeping a clean house.
What do you think about this way of doing kids chores? Would it work for you?
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