The Master Approach to Kids Chores
Work around the house exponentially increases with the number of kids you have… at least it sure feels that way. And when you have little boys I think that might even double again. With dishes and laundry and toys strewn all across the floor, it is easy to feel outnumbered as a mom.
I remember those days well. I remember feeling like I needed a system to get it all done, or I needed to somehow clone myself.
Each day, I was exhausted with little ones, the mess was piling up and my stress level was soaring over all of it. I knew I couldn’t keep up.
I had tried chore charts. I had tried rewards for chores. I’d tried nagging my husband for help, but nothing seemed to work.
What was worse is that after the kids did a chore, I often felt like I needed to do it again to get it done right. So the next day, when it was someone else’s chore I had them try to fix yesterday’s problems. But it seemed like only one child was doing all the chores as a result.
Fighting over getting chores done began to feel like more work than just doing them myself… but I knew there wasn’t enough time in the day, and I knew that wouldn’t benefit my kids’ skill development either.
I recalled the day my mom had me reclean the bathtub five times because I wasn’t getting it done to her expectations. That was a bad day, but I only had one like it… and then I learned to clean that tub! She demanded that we master our chores.
Suddenly, a lightbulb came on in my mind, and…
The Chore Master System was born. I can honestly say that after about 700 days of using it, we have a system that works very well and is easy to maintain. It requires very little management and oversight on my part, requires no charts, and it still trains each child on every chore. The best part was that it didn’t take a lot of time getting it up and going either.
Here is how it works.
- I wrote two lists of chores – daily and weekly
- I made a note of age appropriateness for each
- I assigned 1 quick daily task plus 1 bigger weekly task to each child.
- We had a family meeting in which I introduced and explained the system
- The core of the system is doing the same chore again and again until it is mastered.
This is what I said:
“I’m assigning each of you new chores. The chores you are receiving today will be your chores daily and weekly as noted until you have mastered them. That’s right, until you are able to do these chores perfectly or close to it, and have a good attitude doing them, they’re all yours. So I suggest you make every effort to do your best! When I see that you have mastered them, I will decide when it is time to switch chores. These will continue on a cycle so you may have them more than once just to refresh your memory as time goes on. Either way, when you are old enough to live on your own you will need to know how to take care of your things, the place you live, and the people you’re responsible for. This is your training ground and it’s my job to make sure you are capable. So here you go! If you have questions, I am happy to advise.”
From there, each child knows their chores, schedules them into their free time, and works to improve their skills. I often spot check here and there and make sure they are getting chores completed and that I see general improvement as the days and weeks went on.
- One child might clean bathrooms weekly, and sweep the kitchen daily.
- Another child might be responsible for all of the dinner dishes and a once a week kitchen overhaul.
- A third might be responsible for several loads of laundry a week, as well as feeding the cat.
- A fourth child might be responsible for cleaning out the van weekly and cleaning up the babies high chair tray.
- The littlest ones are charged with maintaining their own belongings and helping others with bigger projects like cleaning up the deck, raking leaves, weeding or folding socks.
But did it work?
The first day, I had to answer lots of questions, but quickly they learned what they had to do. They also eventually learned to do them joyfully and proactively so that they needed no reminders and very few attitude adjustments.
The beauty of this system is that it actually reduces the workload for mom. It runs itself and thoroughly trains them all in every aspect of caring for a home and other little ones.
Today, I have an army of kids able to help around the house and trained to do so with a happy heart… most of the time. They’re all on track to be thoroughly capable and responsible adults, and I have a home that rarely feels overwhelming anymore.
It’s not perfect but the only thing better would be floors that vibrate and suction all the dirt and toys into the ground automatically, clothes that never need washing and a kitchen that cleans itself. But now we’re talking crazy talk. 😜