Have you ever struggled with keeping your children engaged and responsible with household chores? Or do your kids have trouble simply remembering all the difficult steps there are to get dressed for school (like, go potty, make bed, get dressed, put dirty clothes in the hamper, etc). Yeah, us too.
What works for us right now is using my own variation of “chore packs.” I made a set for our then four and six year olds several months back and it helps them stay on task.
Our two and a half year old is asking for her own chore pack, so this afternoon Savannah and I are going to assemble one for her.
I found bits and piece of ideas online and asked a graphic designer friend to add a few icons that I wasn’t able to figure out myself. There are icons for all of the basic hygiene things the kids need to do on a daily basis in the morning- go potty, brush teeth, comb hair, wipe counter, make bed, and put dirty clothes in the hamper.
I keep the “morning” set on their chore packs all the time. If I need help with things in the afternoon, I’ll slip on a different split ring onto their lanyard with various chores.
I have icons for set the table, clear the table, wash the dishes, feed the dog, empty the dishwasher, water flowers, pick up toys, fold laundry, put clean laundry away, sweep the floor, mop the floor, wash mirrors and windows, vacuum, take out the garbage and I have a blank mommys-choice card too that I can write on with a dry erase marker.
Granted they never have to do ALL of that at the same time! But they get a chunk of chores to do on Saturdays and they usually are required to help with meal prep and clean ups every day.
The best thing about this system is that I never have to ask “did you do this, this, and this?” They just know they need to complete their chore pack. When they are done, they are done. Free to do as they please. They are responsible for this wearable list, and they won’t be able to forget what they are supposed to do. It’s right around their neck!
We feel using this type of system has improved our relationship with our older kids because there is no more nagging or needing to check up on the three things we sent them to do: they are responsible. They know what to do and we know they can do it. Luke is always so proud to finish his chore pack. Savannah secretly is too, but she thinks she is “too old” for them. Which is partially true, she does an excellent job doing all of the daily tasks without being reminded. Her bed is always made every day, her hair combed and teeth brushed. But having the pack on the weekends is helpful because her tasks change from week to week. There is not a consistent routine other than you-have-chores.
We also like that we are splitting up some household tasks- we say that if we work together then we can play together. While the kids do some light duty work, Keith does that too (and yes, sometimes I leave out the kids chore pack cards for him- much easier than finding paper to write him a list!), and I clean the bathrooms and change all the sheets.
It’s my hope and my heart that our kids will develop habits of discipline and of serving others through this exercise, as well as provide an opportunity to tangibly take care of what God has entrusted us with. It also helps keep our house running more smoothly to have a weekly re-set. Or two. Lord knows our house isn’t the neatest in the world… I am a creative person and us creatives tend to be messy (with seven different projects going on at a time)!
We’ve been off schedule for a while, with traveling and Christmas, so I am re-instituting our Saturday chorepack mornings this weekend. We have a birthday party to attend (the whole family!) at 10 am, so my goal is for everyone to be up and moving, with the house cleaned from top to bottom before we leave. Here goes nothing!
You can download the icons in two different sizes here and here. Just print it on cardstock, cut out the icons and mat them onto some colored scrapbook paper. Hole punch the tops and grab a few binder ring clips. Let your child pick out their ribbon to make the lanyard. I recommend laminating to prolong the life of the cards.