Chores are a beneficial part of life for any family, but in a large family, they are absolutely essential for survival! I’ve written frequently about chores in the past:
- why they are important
- how to teach kids to work
- daily habits
- specific chores that we have assigned our children, and
- chore charts.
When it comes to including young children (and older children prone to forgetfulness), I’ve gone through much trial and error in finding systems that work. I’ve used homemade, magnetized chore charts, I’ve used chore packs, and I’ve used other systems that I never bothered writing about. Some solutions worked for a time, and others were epic fails.
Chore packs were awfully close to being just the solution for us. Certain aspects were downright genius. I loved the fact that the kids could attach the packs to their clothing and carry the chores around, hands-free. This helped to keep the children on-task and gave them reminders without having to run back and forth to a list on a wall. I loved using pictures to direct non-readers in what to do each day. I also liked numbering each card, which showed the kids which order to do their chores. Numbering also allowed us to quickly re-sort the cards when they got out of order. Lots of great ideas there!
But other aspects were not working so well for us. The stack of cards would frequently be dropped and mixed up – Or worse, they would get lost. I also felt that a lanyard might work better than a clip-on style chore pack.
These were minor issues, but I wanted to find a way to improve the system to make it more simple and effective for my family. After much tweaking, I found a solution that has been in effect for over a year now!
First of all, I switched from multiple cards, each card containing one chore, to two short, slim pages, each containing a small list of chores.
Page one lists everything the kids need to do before breakfast, such as making their beds, getting dressed, putting their clothes in the hamper, etc. Each task on the list is accompanied by a picture.
Page two lists everything they need to do after breakfast. This includes a kitchen cleanup job and a daily chore. Since daily chores vary by day of the week, I did not include a picture. Instead, the non-reading kids bring their chore pack to me or a big sibling, and we tell them what to do each day.
I printed out the pages on cardstock paper, and then laminated them for durability.
Secondly, I purchased lanyards from the Dollar Store for the younger children, each in a different color. I punched holes at the bottom of each chore page, and attached them upside down onto their lanyards.
By hanging the pages upside down, the kids can read/look at their chores without having to flip them over.
When chores are completed, the kids bring their chore pack back to me, and I give them a Dad Dollar. Dad Dollars are given daily for Chores, Kindness, and (during the school year) School. We keep them in a miniature accordion-style folder, and they can be redeemed for fun prizes and privileges. That system has also morphed over the years, but you can read the general gist of the idea by clicking here.
I can’t say we never lose the chore packs, but the lanyard and the limited number of pages helps significantly. In the event that someone does lose a lanyard, we also have the chores posted on the wall next to the Dad Dollars folder and Chore Pack tin.
For young children, and for some of my middle ones who tend toward distraction and forgetfulness, this solution is the most practical and effective one I have found!
How do you manage chores for younger children? Please share in the comments!