Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Chore System

Let me start by saying, this system would work way better if we had 2 more kids. I am not saying we are going to have 2 more kids, I am just saying I would love how this system worked with 2 more kids in the mix.

For many years, we have done a system of responsibilities and privileges based on days of the week. Each kid was assigned a specific day where they did certain chores(sweeping the kitchen floor and emptying the dishwasher) to help around our house. They also had jobs that never changed and they did weekly(Cody was in charge of taking the trash out, Lauren set the table each night, Abby vacuumed the main level, and Sam cleared the table) On that same day, they got certain privileges like choosing what we listen to in the truck as we drive, what TV show is watched when they are allowed to watch TV, etc. If there was ever a dispute on who got to pick something, we deferred to whose day it was. The 3 big kids had 2 days and Sam had 1 day. We also had the order of taking showers each night based on whose day it was. If you are interested in knowing more about the old system, message me, and I will share.

It was a really great system. It worked well for a long time. It was time for a change. I also realized that I needed more help around here, and I wanted to train the kids to clean every part of the house. This new system does both of those things.

Our new system is based on "Zones". I divided our house into 4 zones: Kitchen, Bathrooms, Main Level, and Basement. The 4 big kids each take a different zone each week. I took each zone and created a document for it that describes all the details of the daily and weekly cleaning of that zone. I put those documents in plastic sheet protectors so that they would last and also so they could use a Expo marker to mark off the work as they go throughout the week. When the week is over, they can just erase it and pass it on to the next person. (I would be glad to share these documents with anyone who is interested. They are specific to our house, but might help if you wanted to create your own. There are 6 documents total, way too much to show here.) The Zone assignments are in effect Monday-Friday. On the weekends, the whole family works together to keep the house in order.(We wanted to also have the "team element" in our system.)

In addition to their Zone, they each have Daily Job Expectations. These include things like putting away their shoes, backpacks, coats, etc., cleaning their rooms weekly, and cleaning up after themselves(putting away toys they played with, cleaning up their plates and mess at dinner, laundry, etc.)

The final aspect of this system is what we call "Opportunities for a Job Well Done" and "Consequences of Neglect." By completing their jobs each week, they can earn "Mom Bucks." These can be redeemed for things like a sweet drink/treat, a playdate, sleepover, TV/computer/ video game time, etc. There are different amounts to earn different privileges(also all listed in a document). Neglecting their jobs results in various consequences. They do not earn their "Mom Bucks" for the week, and someone else gets an opportunity to do the job. The one who didn't do the job must pay the sibling who does the job, but if I do the job, they have to pay me double because I have a Master's Degree and my time is worth more!

Those are the basics. We have been doing this now for almost 2 months. The two younger kids are not really included in the "zone work" right now. Isaiah has certain jobs like hanging up his laundry, emptying bathroom trash cans, and folding towels. Laila will begin with specific jobs once she turns 4 this summer. Right now, she just does jobs on demand and helps me. If I had 8 children, I would assign 2 per zone. That is why I think it would be better with more kids. I am not sure if I will have Isaiah join the zones when he starts Kindergarten or First Grade. When he does, he will have one of his siblings "mentor" him and he will assist them in the process.

The hardest part for me in this system is the consequences. That has been surprising to me because I tend to be pretty strict, but I have struggled with giving the consequences. I have given more grace than I normally would.

The good part is that my house has been consistently cleaner and tidier than it used to be. It is nowhere near perfect, but there is a system to clean it. It was hit and miss in the past. The really great part is that each kid now knows how to clean every part of a house. That, I believe, will greatly benefit them when they are older.

So, there you have it. I would be glad to answer any questions you might have or share my documents with you. I would also love to hear any plans, systems or tips that have worked with your kids. This will be an ever-evolving process for us. For now, I feel like we have a good structure in place to work on.


  1. Wow, super impressed. Chores have been a challenge around here and I look forward to creating a new plan once we get back to the Springs, I'm not working full time and we have our own home...but that's no excuse to not do something now. Your post has convicted me to really teach my kids to be helpers, not just do it for them because it's easier for me.

  2. It sounds great. I only have 2 that are old enough to really help right now though. I was trying a new system which worked great for a few weeks, but not as much anymore. I just have a harder time implementing a system during the school year when life is busier. I need to work on it though because otherwise I get really frustrated when I'm the only one cleaning up everyone else's messes (especially when I spend all day picking up after the 9 young children that I babysit).