Friday, March 23, 2012

Putting a plan together...

Today I am talking to-do lists. Hopefully you had the chance yesterday to write your lists of things you want done and who is available to do them. I wrote about how to do this yesterday, see HERE. If you haven't had time, Holly from Nerdymom Speaks (see HERE) told me about a purchasable program that pre-organizes your appointments and chores which looks pretty good. It is called Motivated Moms and you can see their website HERE and download a free sample page of their chore system HERE. If you have used it, let me know what you think of it!

Now you are going to take your list of people who can do chores and give each his own sheet of paper with his name written at the top on the front and the back. Write the days of the week down the side all fairly evenly split. Turn the page over and down the side write: learn, teach, weekly, monthly, seasonally also evenly divided. You should have one for everyone including yourself, even if they are not home all the time (like my husband), and it will have the chores that they should or do accomplish themselves. It helps to see it all visually so that you are not assigning someone too many chores or too little or piling them up on one day. Start with the daily chores.

Daily Chores

Take a look at the chores that need to be done daily and make sure anything listed as a daily chore on a zone chart has been added to the list. There are some things on the list that someone specific needs to do and there are some things on this list that just need to be done. Star anything that needs someone specific and write their initials, it is okay to have more than one person assigned right now. Pretty much anyone can unload a dishwasher, but maybe only certain people should wash the knives so this gives a starting place. Now, next to chores that a certain person might like, write their initials. One of my sons loves to weed and water the garden, it is is hobby. It's his job. Lastly, if there is a chore that someone needs to learn, write their initials next to that chore. Now, if you think of something you need to teach a child which is not on the daily list, like how to change the furnace filter or bone a chicken, put it on the back of their list. We'll get to that.

Now start transferring the chores with initials next to them, to the list of the person who will do the chore. If more than one person can do it (say, unload the dishwasher) then spread the wealth around by working through them having a new person do it each day. You can see how I did this on my bathroom cleaning schedule HERE. It can help to divide a chore up to get a younger child working, especially if working with an older more responsible child. I have a 4 to 6 year old unload the silverware rack of the dishwasher while an older kid does the rest. I also have separate kids to load and unload the second load of the day, which is run after lunch.

Weekly Chores

You will work through the list of other chores and write initials next to them to assign them evenly. Again, sometimes things need to be done by a specific person and sometimes they just need to be done. You should follow the same method as above. I try to work out weekly chores based on the rest of the activities we have for the week. I clean out the fridge the day before trash day. There is not usually a lot that is garbage but there are often recyclables. I wash the appliances fronts and tidy the shelves in the pantry the day before shopping day (Sprouts has double ads on Wednesdays). I also never mop when all the kids are home. Also, if you have a regular date for company, clean the bathrooms the day before. 

Monthly and Seasonal Chores

We try to spend at least one Saturday a month not running around. This is the day when big monthly chores  and any seasonal things get done. The kids know the routine and if we can get them done a little everyday over the course of the week before, we can take Saturday off. But some chores are smaller chores, like wiping down the baseboards in the dining room. Fridays are when we do that. So, first Fridays in my house are zone one monthly chores and with everyone working it takes 30 minutes. Second Fridays are zone two, and so on.

Teach and Learn Categories

Any weekly, monthly, or seasonal chore that you want someone else to learn how to do, put it in the learn list on the back of their sheet. If there is something you really need to learn (say, how to check the transmission fluid) put it on your list but, before you put anything on the list of another adult in the household speak to them first. This is only respectful.  If there is a skill someone needs to learn (how to mix baby wipe solution) it might be you that needs to teach it, or it could be someone else in the house. If you can assign a kid to buddy with someone for a couple of weeks to learn how to do something, they can jump in the rotation. It saves everyone hassle. The old saying, "Many hands make light work" is dead on and tell the teacher that he is reducing his workload. One such skill in my house is washing the table. Sounds not too hard, but my dining room table is 4 feet wide and 10 feet long meaning that there is forty square feet of table to wash. We have a method and the kids have to learn it. Kids cheerful teach younger kids how to do it because it means they will wash it less.

Putting it all together...I have actually gone so far as to have printed out lists for each of the children. I have extra things in there like, helping a sibling get dressed to to make the bed with another child. It seems a little weird and maybe a lot OCD but they are in plastic sheet protectors and they can check them off with dry erase pen. I try to update them frequently, like this weekend, to make sure that kids are always moving chores around to prevent frustration with the same old thing. I also have a master list for me, so I know just who has what going on and can check on the kids.

I have been thinking about providing copies of my sheets and chore charts. Would it help you? Let me know!


  1. Ooh, thanks for the shout out. :) I'm glad you liked the lists. I like them a lot, this is my second year doing them and I gave a set to my mom for Christmas which she loves. By the same token, if I had older kids, I would be very interested in your chore system. Lists for the kids plus a master list to track it all? Sounds dreamy. I wish my kids could read. :)

    1. When they are all little it is so hard! I have a chore sheet for the youngest kids that is just pictures. I drew things like toothbrushes for brushing and the bed for making the bed. I will post a picture of it on Monday.

  2. Real Simple just had an interesting series of articles about the housework that various women feel overwhelmed by and the relating proportion of those women that delegate and/or ask for help.

    A large number of the women polled mentioned that they don't delegate because they don't trust their spouse to do the chore correctly.

    1. I have no doubt that this is true! But that sad part is that work is probably not getting done anyway because often women hold themselves to the same impossible standard. Some is always better than none! I would rather have a job done imperfectly than not at all.

  3. Melanie3/30/2012

    Oh YES! Please provide copies of chore charts and lists! This would be so helpful as we are moving into a new house with 8 children in 2 weeks and I want to start off on the right foot. I enjoy your blog and am in awe of your family and how you care for them. Thanks for all your coking and house making tips!

  4. Melanie3/30/2012

    I mean cooking ;-)

  5. Katrina4/20/2012

    Yes! Please post copies of your lists for inspiration!

    1. I'll talk to in-house tech support (my oldest kid!) and see if he can help me put it together as a download.


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