Extra-chore-dinary!

I did it.  I broke down and made a chore chart for the kids.

I think it is incredibly important to build a sense of responsibility into children at a young age.  I wanted to nip any sense of entitlement in the bud.  They must know that they are a part of the family team, and that all team members are expected to contribute.  Children can learn work ethic, pride and accomplishment for a job well done.

Blah blah blah.

That is all great, but the truth is: there are three of them and one of me.  Before even considering the fact that each of them individually wreaks more havoc than 5 adults, they already have me outnumbered.  The chore chart was borne out of necessity more than lofty ideals.  If I have to spend the few hours after the kids finally give up the bed time battle cleaning up, I have no time left for important things like Facebook, Pinterest and bad TV.  That just doesn’t work for this Momma!  I am also priming them.  I figure if I start early enough, they can take over all the cooking and cleaning by middle school.  Then I will read books, have long, uninterrupted visits with dear friends over coffee, I will take up drinking coffee, I will eat bon-bons and watch day time soaps (are there any left??), and sleep… or dear sweet sleep.  I will sleep in.  My clean, well-mannered children will bring me breakfast in bed and leave the kitchen spotless.  All the linens will be freshly washed, no dust anywhere, happy smiles everywhere.  They will hug each other and say how happy they are to have such wonderful siblings!

Ok, maybe I went too far there.  Day dreaming keeps me sane.

Back to the chore chart.  I prefer to steal other people’s wonderful ideas because it is far less work for me.  But, after searching Pinterest and a few of my favorite homeschooling blogs I was coming up empty with what I was looking for in a chore chart.  While Isabelle can read her name and a few other words, Eli can’t seem to get past his selective color-blindness long enough to bother practicing selective memory on the alphabet.  Henry, well… I didn’t bother making him one.  Third kid.  You know.  It had to be really simple, it had to have more pictures than words and it had to be hands on.  It also had to be something they could keep up with themselves more or less.  Because we all know I would never remember!

In the end I combined many different charts I had seen to achieve the things I wanted.  First, I wanted the kids to understand they are responsible for themselves.  They each have a section for that.  Right now it includes getting dressed, saying prayers and brushing teeth morning and night.  Note that ALL of these will change over time.  I wanted them to have some that they already do a pretty good job with as we started.  Also note that I wanted to see 1) if I would remember to use the chart and 2) if the kids would go for it before putting much effort into the charts.  Foam board, clip art pics and velcro buttons.  I am thinking a magnetic board if we manage to stick with this.  I would probably even make one for Henry at that point!

Second is “Doing my part”.  We often talk about our family being a team, and that a team works together.  They know that there is a lot to be done, but that if we all pitch in and do our share it leaves a lot more time and energy for the fun stuff!  Now, these vary a bit because they are a few years apart in age (and light years in attention span).  They are both responsible for putting their dirty clothes in the hamper rather than in their bedroom, in the living room, in the toy box, the kitchen cabinet, on the bookshelf or in the fridge.  Yes, I have found dirty clothes in all of those places… and more.  Isabelle and Eli are also responsible for taking their dirty dishes to the sink after each meal.  They have been good about this one for a while. Henry is learning from them and does a good job with his plate as long as you stop him before he gently places it in the sink (by which I mean throwing it and splattering food in a five foot radius).  You also have to watch carefully or he will chuck it in the trash.  Plate, silverware and all.  I have had to buy spoons at least 3x this year.  He also has an affinity for throwing remote controls in the trash.  Luckily (??) he can operate the buttons on the TV too.  They also have to pick up the toy room.  Isabelle’s additional responsibilities are emptying the dishwasher (the items that are in upper cabinets get placed on the counter for me) and putting away her laundry and towels.  Can I just say that I LOVE her emptying the dishwasher!  So nice to pretty much always be able to load it when there are dirty dishes.  Eli has to make his bed and put the books on bookshelves.  The book thing is actually quite a chore.  We have a bazillion books, and Henry thinks they make better area rugs than bookshelf decor.  This keeps Eli busy.  And mad at Henry.

Finally, we have the “$$$” category.  If they have completed what they need to do taking care of themselves and doing their share then there are a few additional things they can do to earn some money!  Isabelle gets to dust, sweep the floor, vacuum, start/change over laundry, and wipe down baseboards/doors/etc.  Eli can put his laundry away, take out the trash, sweep the floor, dust and wipe down the bathroom sinks.

Here is a close-up of the actual chore pieces.  Cheesy clip art, but simple enough for the kids to know and remember what it is after they were told.

This, my friends, is the piece de resistance!

This is the all-powerful, ever motivating treat basket!  Because we are only a few weeks into this, they still get treats the morning following a completed chore chart (if they went to bed without trouble, but that is a whole other monster.  That monster has saved me from handing out lots of treats…).  It is just a bunch of cheap random crap, but they are so excited to dig through it and find some amazing new treasure or treat.  It seems like throwing a couple of new things in about once a week is enough to keep it fresh and exciting.

Now, in full disclosure, NO the kids don’t do these chores all completely on their own.  Or perfectly.  In my book, if they have made a real effort to get it done, it counts.  Right now we are about 50/50 on it saving me time and effort vs. it causing me more work.  I can honestly see them getting better at some of the things though, and I love seeing them figure things out for themselves!  That has been one of the best things about this whole thing- the kids have such a sense of pride when they get to move their piece to the DONE column!  It has also been an amazing “no” replacement.  When they ask to do something I am really not up for, I just ask if their chores are done and off they go to check the chart!  Sweet!!

All in all I have been really pleased with how well this has gone, aside from some tears on days Isabelle doesn’t get hers all done.  Tonight she even did most of her money earning section, initially to save for her Camero (all money that goes into her hands goes to her savings for her Camero.  She is a girl on a mission!) but then she decided she didn’t want paid tonight.  She didn’t want to take Daddy’s money.

This is a very good thing 🙂

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