Now that my youngest is four, I determined he was old enough to take on some chores. Mason was already doing some things, but we had lost control of keeping track. We used to use myjobchart.com, but we kept forgetting to logon each day, and it became clear we needed something in our face. (BTW – I LOVED the options myjobchart.com offered in terms of earning rewards and assigning point values to different chores and assigning different chores to each member of the family. It is probably great for older kids!)
I started the quest for a compatible chore chart that would work for us. There are a lot of pre-made options out there.
I even looked for ways to make my own. We bought some colorful dry erase boards at Target. I looked for magnets – either ones I could customize myself or that were pre-made. I found some great options on Etsy. (These were especially cute!) I was ready to buy some despite the extra cost. I was just waiting for a time when Jeremy and I could actually sit down together to discuss the entire chore process. It’s something I knew we both needed to agree on and get behind so that we could enforce it. The hardest part about chores is the age difference and fairness. Mason has been making her bed since she was four and always asked, “Why doesn’t Cooper have to make his bed?” I would just tell her that when he was four, he would have to do the same. And many times Mason tells me that she feels like she does “everything” (oh honey, just wait til you’re a mom!) and it makes her very upset. So I knew fairness was going to be a big deal.
While trying to figure this all out, I had an afternoon trip to Target all by myself (heaven for me!) I was looking in the office supply section trying to find cute stuff for my hopeful new home office (more on that soon), and found this:
It was the perfect answer and the perfect price ($8.99 at Target and on Amazon.) Each child is assigned a colored star. We get to personalize the chores along the left side, and then they put their star under each day when the chore is done. We use the bigger stars as “Bonus Stars” for when a child goes out of his/her way to help out. For instance, Mason offered to help unload the dishwasher one afternoon and Cooper helped match socks while I was folding laundry. They each earned a bonus star for their eagerness to help. Right now, the daily chores they each have to do are:
Pick Up Toys
These are super basic to get the kids used to the system. We plan to add Set Table and Empty Dishwasher soon. But now back to the bigger picture…
In the end, Jeremy and I agreed that chores were not something you get paid for. Chores are part of living together as a family. We all live under the same roof, and we want to respect our home, our stuff, and each other. Therefore, we each have chores. BUT on the other hand, my kids are young. They need incentive to keep them going. So we have a loosely based reward system. Right now, when they earn 100 stars, the kids will get to pick whether we go to a movie as a family or we get to buy a new DVD for Friday Movie Night. Then the slate will be wiped clean, and they start the tally over again. Each reward will be a family activity, and the bigger the activity, the more stars they have to earn. (I’m thinking a trip to Hershey Park this summer after they earn 500 stars.) Mason and Cooper have to work together. We don’t calculate stars for each child. The Bonus Stars go towards the total star tally. I feel this will help them encourage each other. If Cooper is having a hard time making his bed, hopefully Mason will help him so Cooper can earn his “make bed” star for the day and add to their collective total. (A mother can dream, right?)
So far, we’ve had it up for almost a week. It’s right in our hallway where it can’t be missed, so the kids are constantly reminded of the chores but also the rewards. I’m happy with the solution we came up with. I think it will work well for our family for now. As the kids get older, we’ll have to adapt. But for now, hi-ho hi-ho, it’s off to chores we go!