Creating a family chore plan that you can actually stick to!

I am in the process of taking inventory of all the tasks that need to get done around the house and devising a plan to spread the chores out amongst the family members. I am determined to figure out a way that I can actually be consistent at. I know no plan is perfect, but I also know that without a plan – not much gets accomplished!

Past chore plans

Here has been our past experiences with chore division. Mom comes up with a great plan. Kids participate eagerly. Kids get tired of it and begin to complain, argue and grumble about who does what when, express that so and so has been gone and hasn’t done such and such. Mom gets tired, forgetful and weary and the great plan begins to fade and disappear. Chores still need to get done, but no plan in place, so many jobs go undone or mom is overworked. Chaos in the house drives mom crazy and new plan is established. Anyone else been there?

So maybe some of you have such a well-oiled plan that this scenario does not hold true in your house, then perhaps you need to share some of your secrets!

Our current situation isn’t too bad right now. The older kids are very good about helping when asked, and even when not asked, some will actually see things that need to be done – and do it! Hallelujah!

Our current chore plan

Typically when many tasks need to be accomplished, I write them down on a big white board in our kitchen. This went up when we home-schooled and it was so handy – I just kept it there. I have a grid on top with room for 3 months to keep track of calendar items (however, this has not been used for many months due to Covid! Now that things are getting put back on the schedule, it’s time to start that again!)

Here’s our dry erase board we use as a calendar, job list, Bible verse we are working on memorizing and a meal plan if I’ve really got it together!

I love this board! If you are interested in something like this, here is a link to one very similar to it on Amazon.

Ok, back to my task list! Once I write down everything that needs to be done, I ask for volunteers. They all need to sign up for 1-2 jobs. Sometimes I group tasks together if one is pretty easy and one is extra hard. I ask the kids if they think I’ve divided everything up fairly evenly. Some have things they prefer doing over other tasks, so generally having them volunteer for their jobs works out pretty well.

However, you always run into someone signing up for a chore that someone else wanted and the inevitable argument begins.

I could just assign chores, which I do from time to time, but one particular son will think anything I assign him is completely unfair and way harder than anyone else’s chore. I could send him to the freezer to scoop up ice cream for everyone and he’d find a reason why his chore was harder than anyone else’s. (Ok, maybe a slight exaggeration, but you get the point!). If he volunteers for a chore, there is much less chance of fit throwing.

I’m not opposed to fits, I just prefer to minimize them if possible. We will get into complaining and arguing over chores too. We still need to work on that here, and I will have to instigate a plan for that too!

Do everything without grumbling or arguing,

Philippians 2:14

I would like to eliminate the process of trying to figure out who is doing what each day, and just have a system down, so everyone knows what their tasks are each day.

Chores that will be dispersed between family members

Here are some chores in our household that I will be dividing. There are some chores that will be one person’s primary responsibility. It will be something that they are a bit more interested in doing and this will become their specialty. There will also be jobs that will rotate through so everyone learns to do them.

  • Meals – prep and clean up
  • Living room – clutter control, vacuuming and dusting
  • Bathrooms (3)
  • Bedrooms (make bed, clutter picked up, clothes in proper spots)
  • Laundry
  • Mowing
  • Trimming
  • Garage (sweeping, keeping shoes neat on racks – why is that so hard??!)
  • Make bread (we make a big batch about once a week)
  • Cats/Dogs
  • Trash
  • On call for jobs dad needs help with
  • Car cleaning (collecting garbage, vacuuming inside, washing outside)
  • Farm animal chores

Specialized and yet diversified

Some of the kids have a natural liking to some particular jobs. For instance, I have a son who loves to do laundry. I am not kidding. Without saying a word, he will spend some of free time listening to his earbuds and folding all the laundry – even matching the socks! I have no problem giving this responsibility to him, and this will be his specialty!

However, everyone needs to learn how to do laundry, and that son is now gone for 2 weeks, so I will need to spend some time showing some of the others how to do this. I keep thinking of what they will need to know when they leave home, and I’d love for them to be able to have the chance to learn as much as they can while at home!

One son has become my bread baker. I taught him how to do this during our Covid days, and he has really gotten good at it. He now sells his bread at our local farmer’s market and has been getting rave reviews. Making our own bread became easy, delicious and nutritious with a few essential tools. You can read more about that here.

The boys usually get the mowing done when it needs it and when split up between the 4 of them, it is not too bad of a job. However, it seems that there is always a section that doesn’t get done, or the trimming isn’t completed. So I may need to assign sections to each kid to make sure it done and looks nice.

Unfortunately, no-one enjoys dishes. I usually let them get away with this. As long as they help clear and wash the table and get plates and food put away. I will wash the dishes. I am going to step back from being the primary dishwasher and allow some of the others to excel at this task!

My daughter particularly HATES dishes. She would rather do the most stinkiest, dirtiest lamb jobs than wash dishes! I haven’t made her do too many dishes when she was willing to go do others tasks for me instead.

However, I had to smile when she told me she was the camp dishwasher on Sundays. Last night she washed dishes for 200 people! All people can and should learn these tasks – they can do it when pushed!

The new plan

What I plan to do, is to have a notecard for each job area with all the tasks that are expected with that given job.

For instance – cleaning a bathroom. I will train them (again!), and show them each area that needs to be cleaned and how to do this. These instructions will be on a notecard in the bathroom drawer. When it is their turn to clean, they will be reminded of the tasks that need to be accomplished.

Lately, I have been lax in making sure these tasks are all done. I might say, “You need to clean the bathroom”. A kid will be in and out pretty quickly telling me the job is done.

I go in and I see the counters are clear, the toilet looks a little better, but when inspecting the tub, I realize this was not even a thought! So a little card to remind them will be helpful. I may laminate it so they can check it off with a dry erase marker each time.

I will have these cards written out for each area that needs to be taken care of. My youngest is 8, so they can all can read.

If you have younger kiddos, pictures may help remind them what to do.

Or have an older one paired with a younger one to teach. This is great in establishing teamwork. It can also go awry and end up in a fist fight. Ask me how I know.

I will then need to figure out how often each job needs to be done, and then work on dividing them up between us.

For example, the main bathroom is primarily shared by 2 boys. If I decide the bathroom needs cleaning 2 times a week, they would each have a turn one time a week in cleaning it.

Or maybe each day it gets a quick clean, and then one time a week a thorough cleaning. I’m still working on the exact plan, but I’m writing this out now to help you get an idea of my thought process and to hopefully help you devise your own plan!

The basement bathroom is shared by three kids so that job will rotate with those 3, while I will be in charge of cleaning our master bathroom.

Once the “plan” is established, then what?

Of course, the best laid out plans will not come to fruition if there is not a way to monitor and enforce that everything actually gets done!

I have not used an allowance on a regular basis, ever. We’ve tried in the past, but it was just always hard to make sure I remembered to get the money to pay them and to do this consistently. They make money when work for me in the garden, do an extra hard task for Brad or me, sell their lambs or work for others. We can discuss more about money in an upcoming post.

Creating a little motivation

Money will not be their reward for accomplishing their household chores, but they do have certain privileges that can be taken away or given. Three of them have phones. If their job goes undone, we can take this extra appendage they seem to have away. The younger two like to watch YouTube videos or play games on an iPad. This privilege can be taken away for a period of time if jobs are incomplete or forgotten.

I may decide that certain jobs need to be done before breakfast, and certain ones before lunch (wanting to eat is usually a good motivator!)

There will also be certain tasks needed to be done before bed (like getting dirty clothes and toys put away, teeth brushed, etc.) or they don’t get to listen to music or Adventures in Odyssey (which is what they typically do once they get to bed). That way they have little triggers or motivators to remind them that they have jobs that need to get done.

I have a friend who moved into a house and told the kids they will have 4 dishwashers in their new house! The kids squealed with delight, until they learned that they would be the 4 dishwashers as this house did not actually have a dishwasher.

Each day, one of the kids is assigned to do the dishes. If the dishes are not done that day, that child has to do the dishes the next day too. I think this is an excellent method. I think it would take a lot of patience, however! I cannot stand dirty dishes on the counter for long. If they piled up multiple days I would go crazy, but these kids have learned their lessons and now get those dishes get done in a timely manner!

Learning what a family is all about

The biggest thing I am trying to teach my kids is that the family runs better if we all do our part! Nothing should be too big of a burden for one person. Learning to serve others should start in the home.

I want them to learn that helping out around the house is expected and not an option. Just because it is not your day for a particular chore doesn’t mean you can’t help out when needed. One person may be gone, and another may need to pick up the slack. We are all essential in the family unit.

Your child needs to feel needed and what better way than to have essential chores that he or she is responsible for?!

5 steps to get you started in creating your chore plan

Have you been frazzled at your task list and trying to figure out how to get it all done? Do you feel like your kids need to learn more responsibility, but are unsure of how to do that? Then join me. Here are five steps to help get you started:

  1. Take inventory. Spend 10 minutes writing down all the jobs inside and outside of the house that need to get done on a regular basis.
  2. Next to each job write down how often that jobs needs to get done. (Once a week, every day, one time a month, etc.)
  3. Think about what your kids are good at and what jobs could be one particular child’s specialty, and what jobs will be rotated between them all.
  4. Once your jobs are written down. Take a 3×5 card and list out the tasks for that particular area. When you say, “clean the kitchen”, that will mean different things for different people. Write down each expected task, and then have a picture of what the room should look like when completed.
  5. Think about some motivating factors. Are there privileges that can be taken away if jobs are not completed? Do you plan on using an allowance system? Are there some fun activities you can plan at the end of the week because you aren’t so overworked and have time for fun?

Next week’s plan

I will show you next week how I have divided the tasks and set up a schedule.

I will need to hold a family meeting to explain this new plan, emphasizing how mom can have more fun with them, if the chores are divided up and mom isn’t left with doing too much! Maybe we will come up with a list of fun things we want to do together as a result of working hard together!

My kids won’t all be together for the rest of the summer. One is working at a camp all summer and the others will be campers there at different times. But that’s ok.

We can still discuss the plan with those that are home and get it up and going anyway. They need to learn that they can still work when others are off having fun, because there will be days that they are gone having fun too.

If you would like to read more about my motivation for getting a chore plan together and the importance of teaching our children to work hard – be sure to read my first two posts in this series.

Raising Hard-working kids: Putting an end to child entitlement one family at a time

Why should we teach our children to work?

I sure love your comments. If you ever have anything to add or suggestions of your own, I’d love to hear them!


4 thoughts on “Creating a family chore plan that you can actually stick to!”

  1. Thank you again Susie for this excellent post and suggestions on divying up chores. I love the card idea, the calendar, and your cooperative effort to figure out how to cooperate! Sometimes we are blessed with a child who loves to organize or clean or cook. I love how you are allowing them to discover what they LIKE to do, and then choose their chores to suit their gifts. And yet you are also challenging them to do things they dislike. I feel like that’s how God deals with us as He grows us: graciously and tenderly, as individuals. The promise of working together and having fun together is also a great motivation for your family: prayers coming your way for success and consistency!

    1. Thank you Cathy! Yes that is a great picture of how God has designed us and has special work for each of us according to our gifts. Thanks for your prayers – I know I will need them!

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