If your kids are anything like ours, that’s the usual response you get when you ask them to do some chores around the home. My wife and I typically followed up by stiffening our tone from a polite request to a stern demand.
If things continued to heat up, we’d toss in the mix an upcoming punishment for not doing the said chore. In our house, this was usually grounding from screen time. Threats typically get the job done, followed by feet stomping and a grumpy gills attitude. We didn’t have a chore chart for kids that helped keep everything simple.
That’s real talk right there!
Is it too much to ask our kids to be a little more proactive in helping take care of the home? They live here after all and add to the mess, right? The confrontational fight over chores was never a pleasant situation for us. By the way our children reacted, I doubt it was a pleasant situation for them either. Angela and I eventually realized that these arguments over chores were mostly our fault. We were failing our children in the chore department. Hindsight sure is 20/20.
I know that sounds ridiculous, so more on that in a minute. I’d like first to hit on the benefits of having your children do chores. Yes, you read that right! There certainly are benefits to making your children do chores. Feel free to share that with your chore-hating kids!
Benefits of Having Kids Do Chores
Let’s be honest; one of the apparent benefits is getting another checkmark on our ever-growing—and ever boring—adult to-do list. Dusting is so lame. Dusting is also a perfect chore for a 7-year-old—SCORE! Having our children complete chores is so much more than just another time saver. As simple as it sounds, chores help children mature by teaching them how to complete a task they 150% don’t care to do at all.
The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry suggests the following:
Research suggests there are benefits to including chores in a child’s routine as early as age 3. Children who do chores may exhibit higher self-esteem, be more responsible, and be better equipped to deal with frustration, adversity, and delayed gratification. These skills can lead to greater success in school, work, and relationships.—American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
The upside here is you don’t need to feel like an overbearing, guilty parent because you make your children do chores. As the research shows, assigning chores to our children is supportive of good parenting. Chores teach our kids the necessary life skills to help shape them into successful, young adults—young adults who will know how to wash their own, stinky undies.
How does that sound? It sounds like winning as a parent to me!
Unfortunately, our kids weren’t willing participants when it came to helping out around the house. We had to figure out how to change that.
How to Introduce Chores to Your Child
Now, circling back to how my wife and I realized we were failing our children in the chore department. We couldn’t have been more wrong with how we were going about assigning chores to our children. We have five very complicated, fragile, little humans from age 12 down to 2 years old. They seem to have a persistent desire to understand these “horrible” things called chores—and we weren’t helping them understand!
Angela and I tried to rule with an iron fist, and then we’d put the fear of God in them when they didn’t do as we asked. Through all the frustration, we eventually learned three guiding principles to help them understand:
1. Set clear expectations.
Think back years—and years—to when you were the ripe age of 11. You’re living it up in 6th grade. You probably just recently realized you’re the next best thing since sliced bread—in your mind, at least! Your bedroom likely isn’t the tidiest, but it looks perfectly fine to you, right? So why in the world is your momma barking orders at you to clean your room? What’s this lady’s problem, am I right?
We need to set clear expectations with our children on what they need to accomplish. One way is to tell them what they need to do for their room to be considered clean—put your sweaty gym clothes in the hamper, pick the legos up off the floor so I don’t step on them at night, and for the love of all that is Holy, make your bed.
Another way to set expectations is to show them how to complete the chore correctly. Watching our 7-year-old trying to figure out how to use a broom to sweep the kitchen floor properly was borderline comical. After a couple of chuckles of watching them try to figure it out, jump in, and show them how to do it. Help them with hand placement and technique. Don’t show them how you do it and expect your child to mimic you perfectly.
As adults, we don’t appreciate being thrown into a sink or swim situation, and neither do our children. Showing our children how to complete the chore shows them what is expected of them and shows them how to be a good leader, which brings me to number two.
2. Lead by example.
Don’t be lame-o parents who lay around playing video games while your kids clean the house. The most powerful tool you have as a parent is to lead by example. I noticed our children are much more willing to jump in unprompted to help me around the house when they see me doing it after a long day. Send the encouraging message that chores are necessary for the home to operate smoothly by being a good role model, and not a lazy couch potato.
3. Consistency is so important!
We found it didn’t work the greatest to get on our kids to make their beds, let about four days slip by where they got away with messy beds, and then start getting on them again to begin making their beds. For them to understand our expectations, we needed a way to remind them to make their beds. Every. Single. Day. What could we do to keep the consistency without fussing at them each day to simply take care of their responsibilities, and still help out around the house?
As adults, we don’t appreciate being thrown into a sink or swim situation, and neither do our children.
Enter the Chore Chart
We tried several variations!
First, I made a Word document with their chores along the top and the weekdays down the side. This chore chart for kids was simple and easy to print off each week. They received a smiley face in each box as they moved along, completing chores. They also received a quarter at the end of the week for each task completed. The idea of paying our kids to do chores never sat well with us (more on that in a minute), so this first chore chart eventually faded away, along with all of my quarters!
Several months later, Angela tried her hand at a wonderfully drawn out chart on a large sheet of graph paper. This Taj Mahal chore chart for kids took her about 3 hours one evening to create, and I was thoroughly impressed. We hung it on the wall at the start of summer break, and our youngsters dove right in with nearly ZERO complaints!
We soon realized a problem—this chart was pretty much only useful for one week. After a week, all the boxes were checked off as complete. Sure, looking back, we could have had the kids check off their boxes in pencil and then erase it every week. Realistically though, that would have gotten pretty old pretty quick. It was much easier just to click a print button as we could before.
Also, Angela’s rocket scientist algorithm for rotating house chores throughout the week was sophisticated and confused the kids from time to time. Angela planned to write up another one but never found that thing called time. I planned to turn the one she made into an electronic file of sorts that we could print each week, but again, time is not our friend. Once again, we fell off the train for a few months.
Third time’s a charm! I opened up Microsoft Excel one evening when I couldn’t sleep, filled my ears with some good tunes, and let my creative juices flow! I was always a bit of an artsy kid growing up.
By the time I shut my laptop, I had finalized our third chore chart. It’s simple yet efficient. Subscribe on our little yellow form here, and we’ll email you the blank, printable copy of our chore chart for FREE! Seriously, Angela and I started this blog to help others, and that’s what we want to do.
The Ins and Outs of Our Chore Chart for Kids
I plastered We Take Care of Our Home Together across the top. This line is a condensed version of the one Angela had initially put at the bottom of hers, and I really liked it! (She’s so amazing) I placed it along the top so each kid could start the day by reading it. I then designed a simple banner to work as a placeholder for the name of the chart owner. There are four main sections: daily self-care responsibilities, daily household chores, weekly household chores, and I was caught.
This is our home, and we will take care of it together.
1. “Daily Self-Care Responsibilities”
This section includes those things that kids need to do daily without being told to do so if they ever want to grow up and meet someone who will marry them. Stuff like shower, brush their teeth, make their bed, put their dirty clothes where they belong, put their clean clothes away. Angela doesn’t have the time to helicopter-mom each kid every morning, and she shouldn’t have to.
Learning how not to be gross isn’t the only thing they need to learn. These growing humans also benefit from learning compassion through acts of selflessness. We’ve found tasks like reading a book to a younger sibling, asking each other about their day, and merely giving someone a big high five are all excellent ways to enforce positive character building. These are great daily self-care responsibilities! Sometimes we could all use a little reminder to be a good person.
2. “Daily Household Chores” and “Weekly Household Chores”
These sections are where we put age-appropriate housework. It’s pretty straight-forward, short, and to the point. Daily Chores need to be completed daily, while weekly chores need to be completed just once a week on the day of our choosing—simple.
3. “I Was Caught”
We always preach to our children about doing the right thing, even when no one is looking. The golden rule—treat others the way you wish to be treated. We live by it, and we are trying to teach our children to live by it too! Our “I Was Caught” is where we mark down if we catch one of our kids practicing what we preach.
We don’t write it down on our 10-year-old’s chore chart if he makes it a point to tell us he helped his younger brother get on his day clothes.
We do write it down on our 10-year-old’s chore chart if the little brother comes out happy telling us his big brother helped him get dressed!
The act has to be something that would have otherwise gone unnoticed—something they genuinely chose to do out of the goodness of their heart. To emphasize the importance of having a good, kind heart, my wife and I offer to complete a chore of their choosing each time “they are caught.”
Sometimes we could all use a little reminder to be a good person.
Why We Don’t Pay Our Kids to Complete Chores
Almost instinctively, the idea of tying chores to an allowance for our kids pops in our head. Paying our kids to do chores seems logical! Money is an excellent incentive for anyone, but when you stop to think about it for a hot second, this sounds ridiculous.
Should I pay my child to do chores?
I’m not their employer—I’m their father.
Living here isn’t their job—this is their home.
Some debate that paying children to complete their chores teaches them about money and responsibility, but I feel like it does the opposite. I believe paying our kids an allowance to do chores is not teaching them anything about responsibility. Our kids need to learn how to pull their weight and not expect ANYTHING in return. Enter one of my all-time favorite quotes:
Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place, and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done! Now, if you know what you’re worth, then go out and get what you’re worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hits, and not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody. Cowards do that and that ain’t you. You’re better than that!—Sylvester Stallone, Rocky Balboa
We’ve decided not to raise our children to expect a reward for each little, simple task they complete in life. We instead desire to raise our children with self-accountability and pride in a job well done. Paying them to be responsible for themselves will do none of that. Our chore chart also won’t teach it overnight, but it will contribute to the long game.
There are other ways to teach them how to be responsible with money, and we’ll touch on those as this blog lives on.
This is our home, and we will take care of it together.
That’s just my two cents, and I understand there are different strokes for different folks.
Chores Are Age Sensitive
Let’s not be naive, though, and think we can assign chores to our children all willy-nilly.
I hate cleaning the shower. Does that mean I should have our 4-year-old clean the shower each week?
No, that’s an absurd idea.
Children require age-appropriate chores, much like everything else we come across as we raise our children. An excellent chore for a 12-year-old could be taking out the trash. A fantastic chore for a 4-year-old could be to wipe the handprints and dried up food bits off the front of the dishwasher.
If you’re having a hard time thinking of age-appropriate chores and responsibilities, then you’re in luck! We’ve created a Chore Chart & Age-Appropriate Tasks Bundle that can be picked up in our Mini Riches Shop with this week’s couch-cushion money. With this bundle, you’ll receive our blank freebie chore chart you’ve already received if you opted in above, the fillable form PDF version of our chore chart, and the Microsoft Excel file. If you opted in above, then you’ll receive some special words you can use here when checking out.
Chore Chart & Age Appropriate Tasks Bundle
We all need to do our part—we take care of our home together. That is our motto when it comes to this Chore and Responsibility chart. We created this chore chart to help keep our children on track and to help teach them the sense of pride that is achievable through completing productive tasks.
And let’s be honest, kids need chores in their lives!
Chores play a significant developmental role in our children by teaching them the responsibility of completing necessary tasks. Using a chore chart can help make chores less confrontational and more organized. You may find your children start completing their chores and responsibilities once they can see tangible progress. We all tend to do better when we can see our successes and understand what is ahead.
We don’t believe in paying our children to do chores because caring for the home is a blessing in itself. Chores are not just a responsibility. They are a gift. Had God not provided a good job for their father, there would be no money to put food on the table or clothes on their backs. Taking pride and doing a quality job in caring for their home gives glory to God. No amount of money can top that!
Our chore chart is easy and straightforward, which is something we should all labor towards. Try it out, and let us know how it goes!