School is out, but chores are still very much in. We know this but not so sure our kiddos got the memo. Shall we remind them? Yes, we shall.
What are some ways as a parent, you can get this message across to your children while involving them AND making it fun? Instead of jotting down a few chores on a piece of paper and handing it over to your kid, why not turn it into an art project?
Not only will this method get your kids excited about their cool chore charts but it will get them off their electronics and into creative mode. In fact, the whole family can get involved.
When your children put in their time and creative energy, they will take pride in the end result, i.e. the chore chart. This means they will be more likely to take their chart seriously and want to check in with their work of art on a regular basis. What does that mean for you?Following rules and getting tasks done.
In addition, because they are involved in the creation of their own charts, they will feel respected and part of the rulemaking process. It is no longer about what Mom and Dad are telling them what to do, but a family discussion of what everyone thinks needs to be done. Isn’t psychology great? Instead of getting upset and angry about a list of chores and rules to follow, it becomes more about the fun part of developing their personalized creations and achievements.
So how do we bring these charts to life? The answer is, there is no answer. It is whatever you and your children want it to be. Some of us may consider ourselves artistic while others can admit stick figures are where it ends. Regardless of your creativity level, there is no right or wrong way to create this chart. This is something that should be enjoyable and involve everyone. If crayons and markers aren’t your thing, there are plenty of online programs that can help. Personally, I love PicMonkey. (No, they did not pay me to say this….but now that I think about it…they should!)
Okay, so you figured out your method of getting your kids to follow the rules on paper, now what? Do your kids have a favorite sports team? What are their favorite colors? The ideas are endless. If you have multiple aged children, it is always a good idea to ensure their charts are age appropriate. A 10-year-old is not going to respond to a chart that a 5-year-old will.
Now that you nailed down your creative goals, the next step is to decide what message is going to be conveyed to your child. Is your little one not keeping up with his chores every week? Are your kids all confused as to which sibling is doing what? Is it causing tension in the family and a simple task turning into a major argument?
The idea behind individual charts is that every child is different. What works for one may not work for another. We can’t forget the fact that younger siblings may simply not be old enough to do chores that older siblings can. If your five-year-old can’t get his own chocolate milk in the morning, maybe he can get his own cup and bring it to the table, along with a straw and a napkin, ready whenever you are to pour the tasty beverage. He is still helping, achieving the chore you assigned. Giving him an attainable task will make him feel included and proud.
It is time to get specific so every child knows what is expected of them. There will be no more, “I took out the cans last week”, or “I fed the dog this morning”. At mealtime, perhaps every child is assigned a different task. For example, someone does the napkins and silverware, someone else does the drinks and the other is in charge of helping with clean up. This way, there is no fighting over who is doing what, who works harder, who never does anything, etc. Sound familiar?
This method of allocating specific duties avoids conflict, which can ruin the whole day. Trust me, I know and I imagine you do as well. While developing these ideas, ask your child what chores they enjoy doing. Just because they have to do them, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have a choice as to which ones they prefer.
Explain that at the end of the day, you are the parent, which means you make the final choices but also understand the importance of hearing their input. Maybe one of your children would rather put the laundry in the dryer instead of taking out the garbage cans on garbage day. Maybe another offspring enjoys getting fresh air and doesn’t mind being in charge of the garbage cans each week.
Check out these two methods of delivering chore responsibilities.
- “You are on sock duty and I expect it to get done without an attitude. Find the matches in the dryer while I am folding the rest of the stuff.
- “I love the way you help me with the laundry and have such a good eye for matching the socks. From now on, you are in charge of sock duty when Mommy does the laundry, whether it’s yours, your brothers, mine or Daddy’s”.
Do you hear the difference? It’s not about walking on eggshells with your kids but showing respect and making your kids feel part of a team instead of just your slave.
Aside from chores, have your kids been getting in trouble lately and in need of a reminder of house rules? Could their attitudes improve, especially as a role model to siblings? Yes, of course they could!
In addition to a chore chart, you may want to make room for an attitude column as well, focusing on what each child needs to work on. Is your five-year-old having difficulties accepting “NO” for an answer? Maybe your 10-year-old has been asking for a lot of things lately, not being appreciative of what he already has. Perhaps your eight-year-old is constantly interrupting you when you are speaking to an adult.
All sound familiar? I hear yah. All constant battles in my house.
There are probably tons of items your kids could work on and chores you could assign but this chart is a family project, remember? Why not ask your child what he believes he can work on? You may even find a specific adjustment that you had not thought about. If you have multiple children, get everyone together and create a family discussion. Invite each child to share their opinion of what their siblings need to work on. If one of them says, “my brother farts too much”, guide them back to the right path…after you laugh, that is.
You might find out that your 10-year-old is feeling a bit underappreciated by his little brother when he is always looking out for him, especially at camp. Perhaps the younger brother can say, “Thank you” more often and show more gratitude to his brother. This is something you might not have noticed since it happens when you are not present. These feelings are certainly valid and if not addressed, can cause resentment. Next time you ask your eldest to help his little brother, he may give you an attitude and you may not understand why and discipline the wrong child.
This chore and attitude list are not just about what we as parents want our children to carry out and work on, but what everyone as a family, thinks will lead to positive changes. Just be aware your kids will most likely tell you that you need a chart as well, at least for the attitude part. I am pretty sure we have the chore thing down! While we want to keep the parent/child dynamic intact, we can always learn from our kids and understand new and improved ways to discipline, react and pilot the family plane.
Below are three examples of charts for a 10, 8 and 5-year-old that were created with Pic Monkey. I have to admit I had a lot of fun working with each child and learning about what they would want to see on their chart. It was important for me to make them all very different, including the colors, fonts, themes and layout. The best part was revealing each child’s chart and watching their eyes light up with excitement. You better believe that day, their chores were done and attitudes adjusted.
I tried to make my 10-year-old’s chart more mature than the look of his younger brothers and he agreed I succeeded.
While he still continues to insist he doesn’t need a chart, he admitted he loved his.
Hanging his chart in a high traffic area has helped him see what he needs to accomplish on a daily basis.
I have even seen him going over his chart on his own, without being prompted, which of course made me extremely proud.
My eight-year-old loves writing and coloring on yellow legal pads so this design made perfect sense and also incorporates many of his favorite things.
When I revealed his design, his eyes lit up and instead of focusing on all of what was expected of him, he was thrilled about what his chart looked like.
My little guy’s chart was based on a chalkboard theme, which he thought was super cool, especially since the font looked like real chalk. Due to the fact he cannot read yet, my goal was to make it visually appealing.
As the third child, it’s nice for him to have something that only belongs to him versus having something that is passed down.
So what do you do from here? I put an X next to any chore that was not completed or behavior that was not demonstrated properly. At the end of the week, we all look at what chore and/or attitude has the most X’s and figure out why and what we need to improve on.
If anyone gets 10 X’s in one week, I choose three options for punishment, write them down and the kids get to pick it out of a hat.
For my oldest, his three choices were no television for two days when he wakes up early, while everyone is still sleeping, no playdates after camp for three days, and taking over his brother’s chores for the day. It’s always amusing to throw in something silly such as owing $10 or giving Mommy a back massage. While this is all about teaching our kids about behavior and responsibility, it can still be fun.
This is of course just one idea. You know your kids best and how to effectively penalize them. Remember, there is not just one way to utilize these charts. Do what works for your family and what you feel will benefit everyone the most.
Most importantly, remember to have fun with these projects and not to worry if they don’t turn out exactly how you envisioned them to be. As long as you spend the time to create this together as a family and your children gain an understanding of expectations and consequences, you have succeeded.