The House That Runs Itself. . .Almost

My therapist and I had an interesting conversation a few weeks ago about the adversarial nature of chores in our house. Particularly the fact that I get very frustrated when I have to nag and nag my eldest to fulfill her basic home responsibilities. . .you know, like putting her dirty clothes in the laundry and hanging up her wet towel after a shower. It’s a point of frustration for both of us. It leads to threats, punishments that don’t really change anything, and more work for me.

I’m learning a lot about what’s age-appropriate for my kids from therapy. I tend to expect too much from them emotionally, but not enough physically. For example, I feel like Melody should be able to just “get over” her fear of bees. . .you know. . .because she’s the ripe old age of 8. . .but I thought she was far too young do be responsible for the dishes a couple of times per week.

Enter my reality check. Just like I’m building my emotional muscles, so is she. . .but she needs help AND she’s old enough to be goal motivated in some areas. So I’m taking a step back in helping her with her fears and emotions (that’s a whole other post), and taking a step forward in helping her take more responsibility for her chores and self-care.

So I created chore charts. One for her and one for Jubilee. Jubilee is pretty young to be able to do very much, but there are a few things she can do. My primary goal is to set Melody up for success in learning to monitor her own daily tasks, while building in natural rewards and consequences.

I spent some time researching different methods and chore charts online and I ended up merging a few ideas. Here is a visual of what I came up with:


Basically, each girl has chores assigned on different days for which they can earn money, and each has a list of “Team Responsibilities,” basic daily tasks that are a part of taking care of themselves and our home as part of the family team. If their daily list is not completed by bedtime, they lose a portion of the commission they may have earned doing chores. So far, it’s working beautifully. And surprisingly, Melody is quite capable of a few things I did not expect. She can actually unload and reload the dishwasher rather well and with minimal assistance (a twice weekly chore we decided to try.) And she is super excited to earn some money. We are also going to use the opportunity to teach her about saving, giving and spending. So far so good.

Do you have a chore system for your kiddos? I’d love to hear about it.

One thought on “The House That Runs Itself. . .Almost

  1. Krissy C.

    We do weekly spreadsheets for chores for our 3. Some chores are once or twice a week and alternate (swiffering, sweeping, dishwasher loading for each meal, dusting, help with bathroom sink washing, window washing–with friendly cleaners…), and some are for every day (keeping room clean, teeth brushing, meal dishes taken to kitchen, clothes to basket, “homework”…) They can check off their chores when completed and I look in the evening to see if all were done. Sometimes I’ve done daily stickers if all were done. Our kids are excited about $1 a week. I do keep in mind days when we’ve overplanned family activities and sometimes “excuse” chores or give them “makeup” chores.

    The kids are fine doing all of the chores (sometimes with small help – for instance, dustpans are very tricky for all still), but need to be taught how at the start (e.g. when you dust, you have to move the things on a table, not just run the cloth once on a side). With scaffolding, many more things than you’d expect are possible! And, surprisingly, they love it. :)


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