As toddlers and young preschoolers my girls were always eager to help out with chores around the house. They were always so involved in putting away their things and helping with household chores that I never really felt the need to develop a system for keeping track of what they did.
But if you have older kids, you may know that this golden age of helpfulness tends to fade after a while. Now at age 3, Tinker is still eager to be involved. Her big sister, age 5, is a bit more inclined to opt out of helping these days. Back when I participated in the Positive Parenting Solutions course, I decided we’d start a more organized plan for family contributions (to very loosely summarize, a more positive approach to chores) soon, but I’ve been putting that off for a bit. So with the start of a new school year and the move to a new house I decided it was time for us to create our own chore chart and get something a little more organized going.
Why is it “Nothing Fancy”?
Like any Pinterest-loving mom, once I knew we’d be creating a chart. I scoured my favorite Pinterest boards and looked for the “just right” plan for us. And I found a ton that I loved, but I was paralyzed. I didn’t have time to create a picture perfect chart. I also worried that I’d spend all this time creating a chart and it wouldn’t work out. So I kept putting it off.
Well, guess what? School is starting, and I can’t put it off any longer. While we were out shopping for school items I grabbed a poster size magnetic dry erase board that was on sale for a great price, and I decided it was time–picture perfect or not.
Our Family Contributions Chart
Before making our chart I sat down and thought about the things the girls naturally like helping with. I also sat down and looked at what I need help with and which days of the week I typically do those chores. I sketched out a plan on paper and moved things around a bit so the days were basically even. Then I grabbed my dry erase marker and got to work.
Again, it’s nothing fancy! On the left side of our dry erase board I wrote Tinker’s name. Lovey’s is on the right. At the top of the board I wrote a list of family contributions they are responsible for each day. I tried to keep the list small so the kids weren’t overwhelmed from the beginning, and I didn’t add any self-help things that they already do voluntarily (get dressed, put launder in hamper, etc).
On the bottom half of the board I wrote one or two contributions the girls only have to do on each day of the week. This is all in print form. Ideally I would have a picture clue so the girls could both read the list on their own, but we’re not there yet. Instead I hot glued plastic gems to a small button magnets.
Each morning I set the board so all the gems are next to the required family contributions for the day. Then as we finish each item the girls slide the appropriate gem to the outer edge of the board. Originally I had planned for the girls to remove the gems from the board, but I think sliding them over makes it easier for us to reset the board each day and helps prevent losing them.
The downside of the board being written in dry erase marker is that an accidental swipe could erase our handiwork. I took a picture of it so I could easily rewrite the board if this happened, but so far I haven’t even had to do touch ups. Actually I like that I can erase a contribution and replace it with a new one if something isn’t working out, or we need to chance a day.
Tips for Creating Your Own Family Contributions Plan
- Consider the tasks your child already likes to do around the house and incorporate those as much as possible. If your child is old enough, have a chat about which contributions your child would like to help out with. The more buy in from your child, the better!
- Consider the tasks you already do around the house that your child could help out with.
- Consider whether there are any age appropriate tasks nobody is doing that you would like to get done.
- Think about which jobs are right for kids your child’s age. This can vary depending on each child, but this list of jobs by age from Positive Parenting Solutions is a terrific resource to get you started.
- Think about how many jobs your child is going to be responsible for each day, how long it will take typically, and where you will have time in your day to accomplish them.
- Sketch out your plan and test it out for a couple of days before committing to anything. Let your child know that these jobs are expected to be completed, but also be flexible in changing a job if it seems like something your child isn’t actually physically ready to do yet or particularly loathes. We switched around a few contributions that ended up making both of the girls happy, and that means they get them done faster and mommy is happy, too!