The Dreaded Chore Chart
by Sandi Brown
Chores … it’s a word that most every household dreads. Our family struggles with chores too, but to further complicate the issue, my husband and I are new parents. Although we have three kids ages 9, 12 and 13, we’ve only been parents for three years. Following a 10-year struggle with infertility, we adopted a sibling group of children after caring for them in our home through foster care.
As new parents, Kirk and I ventured into parenthood with high hopes. The first year or so went great as everyone was getting use to the “new family” and finding their place. But after the honeymoon period wore off, out came the complaints!
Every day we were floored as we listened to their excuses about doing chores. Whether it was homework, friends or just plain boredom, the kids decided they didn’t like doing them. We’d go through hours of pleading and grumbling about something as simple as drying the dishes. We took away privileges, but even that didn’t deter them from complaining. In a moment of sheer desperation, we decided to revolutionize our “chore chart.”
First, my husband and I added our names to the chart. Even though we already did most of the work around the house, we wanted the kids to see us complete tasks without complaining.
Next, we came up with five weekly chores and put them into a rotational chart. Offering a variety of chores and including the entire family has given our kids a new-found motivation. Watching us complete our tasks in a happy mood has improved their attitude too!
Then we added another component to our chore bulletin board called “Help Wanted.” Every few days, I post of piece of paper with a chore on it and what they can earn for completing this job. We don’t pay money for doing “Help Wanted” chores. Instead, the kids can earn items such as: Extend your bedtime by 10 minutes. Or add 15 minutes extra TV time. Or buy a free fountain drink at the local gas station. We include things the kids look forward to doing. But the rule is: They cannot pull the paper down to claim it until they’re ready to do the chore.
Since we’ve added the Help Wanted section, our kids don’t feel like they have to do chores. Instead, they’re choosing to do extra chores. Usually when a new job is posted, it’s a mad race to the board to be the first one to claim it! In an amazing change of events, we’ve seen our kids beg us to add more Help Wanted chores. And now our house has become the cleanest house in the neighborhood!
Sandi Brown is a freelance writer and a pastor's wife from Bloomfield, Indiana. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.