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Chore Cards

June 27, 2011

The way we handle household responsibilities around here is an ever changing process. I used to have a nice little chart for Monkey with a calendar and stickers and I meant to write about that system. I even started a post back on Mar 11, 2010. Yes, 2010. It sat here in my draft box unfinished as our system evolved.

Currently Monkey is 4.5 yrs old and Bruiser is 3 years old. It was time to get Bruiser in on the work/reward system we’ve got going here, but it needed some tweaking to go from a one-kid system to a two-kid system.

In our home, we have three categories of chores.

1. Chores that get done every day because you are alive and make messes and you need to be responsible for your own things. These include: getting dressed, making your bed, brushing your teeth, clearing your own dirty dishes, and picking up your toys. If Monkey does the first three things on the list without being asked and without griping while he does it, he gets a sticker for 10 minutes of reading time before bed. Bruiser is still to young and needs to be reminded of each step. I remind the children to play with one toy/game at a time and clean it up as they go, but somehow that never works out as well as it sounds typed. So before each meal we have a quick (and sometimes not-so-quick) clean-up time. I go by this principle in Proverbs 16:26:

A worker’s appetite works for him; his mouth urges him on. (ESV)

That nagging reminder of hunger encourages them to work quickly. If they do not clean their mess, they do not eat.

2. Chores that Mom or Dad ask you to do, because it needs to get done now and we need a helper. Example: it’s time to leave the house after dinner and Dad is packing leftovers & wiping the table while Mom is gathering the things needed to get out the door, but if the crumbs don’t get swept up we will come home to an ant party. “Bruiser, please sweep up the crumbs after you put your dishes away and Monkey, please put some detergent in the dishwasher and run it.” There should be no complaining about helping out and there is no need for a reward. Everyone in the family works together to get the family where we need to be. I haven’t yet had the complaint of “but that wasn’t my chore card today” or “do I get a quarter for that?” Hopefully I never will, but I’m not holding my breath over that one.

3. Chores that are on cards showing the kids their responsibility for the day. It is this category that is what the post is really about, so read on.

My reasons for making a chore chart like this are several:

1. To teach the children how to do a variety of tasks and not just the same two or three that get repeated daily.

2. To teach them that some work does get rewarded with money. This is how it happens in the real world.

3. To teach them about tithing and being responsible with their money.

4. To teach them how to follow a plan and take the initiative to do things on their own. Work comes before play.

5. To get them familiar with the days of the week, the dates that go with them, and the name of the current month.

This bright red chart hangs low on the wall in a central part of our house so it gets passed by often. Each boy has his own column for each day. I change the cards weekly to keep things mixed up and exciting.

Making the cards was simple to do, but a little time-consuming. I made picture cards for the previous version of this chart, but in a different size and I’ve since taught the boys/want to teach them several other tasks. In making these cards I reused some old pictures and took some new ones. All my pictures were cropped to be vertical and I added the text directly to the picture before printing them.

When I printed them, I did it as wallet size so I got two identical copies of each. With the exception of “Get the Mail” no boy will get the same chore more than twice in one week. I did not make separate cards showing each boy doing the task; it would have taken too long. So even though it is Monkey filling the bird feeder in this picture, if I put it in Bruiser’s column he knows that is his job to do.

Here are some other sample cards I made:

We’ve got about 20 different chores in all. Some of them (like the trash one) the boys can do all on their own without any assistance. Most of them require a little help from me. And a few of them (like clean the bathroom or do laundry) are meant for them to be my helper so they learn how to do those more advanced jobs.

After I got my prints back from the one-hour Walmart lab, I cut them up and laminated them with clear contact paper for extra durability.

On the back of each card I stuck a circle of velcro so they could be easily added and taken off of our chart. The chart is just a contact paper covered piece of poster board. The other side of the velcro circle got stuck to the poster board.

On the bottom of the chart is horizontal line and one more set of velcro circles. That area is for when all their chores that day are finished. Their reward is one of these guys:

I printed out & laminated some quarter images and stuck the same velcro back to them. When ALL the cards for the day are completed, they can give themselves a quarter sticker.

The chore cards are done after breakfast and their other “getting ready” morning things. Some of the cards can’t be done until later like “get the mail” or “run the dishwasher” and so those of course are excused until later. Any chore that CAN be done in the morning SHOULD be done then. All chores must be done before dinner in order to receive payment.

When a chore is completed, the kid just unsticks it and puts it back in the card box.

We are on week three of doing this and so far it’s gone very well.

Friday night is pay day. The Chief takes them to the chart and they all count up how many quarters they earned. If they got a quarter every day they get the special treat of getting a paper dollar and a quarter. (Ya like how I sneak the math in there? I like teaching them that 4 quarters = 1 dollar without making them sit down and do a worksheet about it.) If they did not get a quarter all five days, they just get the number of quarters they earned.

Monkey especially likes receiving paper money.

The first quarter they get goes right into their church bag to give for offering and the remainder goes in their wallets or piggy bank for saving & spending. As they get older I’ll start to require that they save some of their chore money instead of spending it all, but for now I just let them spend what they make.

The whole system has been extremely helpful for me too. I plan out which days I want to do laundry or wash the floors and just give one of the boys a card to be my helper on that day. If I don’t wash the floors when I’m supposed to, they can’t do their card and I hate the idea of me being the one who kept them from doing a card. So it’s a good incentive for me to keep up with my tasks too.

I think little girls are more naturally inclined to help their mom’s around the house, because they want to be a little mommy too. When I had boys I vowed that they would not grow up to be men who had no clue how to do a load of laundry or clean a bathroom properly. Married or bachelor, these are skills I believe every man should know. I’m starting early so they have it mastered by the time they are grown instead of trying to teach a begrudging teenager how to just get by when he goes away to college.

Every family runs its “business” differently. My system probably won’t work as seamlessly for your family as it does for mine, but if I’ve given you any good ideas or set of a little “spark” of creativity for you, for that I am thankful.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. June 27, 2011 3:47 pm

    YOU GENIUS! Really amazing post. Thanks for the ideas and all the Scripture behind it. I LOVE THIS! You are so inspiring! Love you!

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