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Chore Charts and Systems


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Well, it is nearly the start of the new year....and time for my annual reorganization of our home.


This new year, I am thinking about putting together some type of chore chart/system for my family.   I have never done a chore chart before (mainly because I was afraid that I wouldn't stick to it).   


So let's talk chore charts.


Do you use or recommend one?  Why or why not.


What specific system do you use?  


Pictures are always welcome!   





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I’ve done many over the years. None have worked, I suspect because I need to follow up more. But that becomes nagging which is what the chart was supposed to eliminate.

Edited by Moxie
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We actually have a rotating chore chart that works, but it only works because I remind the kids every day. They have daily chores (sweep the floor, take out trash, clean zone #1) and Saturday chores (clean out & vacuum car, vacuum carpets, etc.) that rotates weekly. It works for the most part.

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We have found the word "chore" to have a severe negative meaning in our house. LOL


My oldest(21) likes to say that he has never had chores. It's because I don't have a system in place.


It's just as easy for me to assign jobs daily.  Early on in the day I will say that certain things need done.  The kids ask me to check their school schedules(sometimes I make a note on their schedule for the day).  They have to ask me if they are ready for free time.  This is where I insert whatever job needs done.  I try to pick things the kids won't hate.


And honestly, DH and I do most things(lawns, laundry, cooking, cleaning...)  The older kids keep their space clean(including their bathroom).  Oldest DD makes dinner once a week when I'm at work.  Kids do dishes 2-3 times per week.  We all work together.

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What I've found is that most chart type systems require too much administration/upkeep from me to work. What does work for us is a simple list and a monthly rotation/switch up of duties. Too much switching means too much confusion and bickering. No chart or or visual checklist. This has worked for three years. I started it when my kids were 9 and 7. My kids vary in how well they do their chores without being asked. Ebb and flow, as with most things. 


I chose routine chores that need to be done daily, several times a week or weekly, and made two even lists. (I have two kids) 

These lists are posted, in large print, where all can see. They include a modicum of description for clarification, but not detailed instructions. The bathrooms and kids' rooms do have checklists for what it means to clean those spaces. Ds still requires supervision or occasional re-teaching for some things.



List 1

set table

dinner dishes 1x a week

dust (weekly)

trash and recycling

blue bathroom (weekly)


feed the dog and fill inside water bowl


List 2

unload dishwasher

dinner dishes 1x a week

wipe walls and baseboards


green bathroom


dog's outside water


Randomly assigned extras, at mom's discretion: 

yardwork  (Ds is now official on mowing and learning to weed-eat/edge. By age 12 this will be his job entirely.)

kitchen helper

laundry (Both my kids do their own laundry most of the time now, but I ask them to help with kitchen, bath or bed linens sometimes.)

EHAP (Everything Has A Place = quick,  1 room reset/tidy up.)







Edited by ScoutTN
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 We don’t have one. 


I tried a few times because it seemed like all the Moms I knew and respected did them. But I felt like it was one more thing for me to keep up with and I was a failure at it. I didn’t try that hard, to tell the truth. 


Over the years, my philosophy about chores has been that we all live here and we all need to work together to keep the house running. On a day to day basis this means that kids help with things like cleaning up after a meal, feeding the dog, sweeping, cooking, doing laundry etc. We have a rough weekly schedule for cleaning and I’ll often ask for help with that. There are times when they are busy with school and I’m not so I’ll do more housework and times when I need more help and I’ll ask for it. 


Slowly, I feel like it is working so that they see what needs to be done and do it. Not all the time. But enough to give me hope. My 14 year old especially will come and help me fold laundry if I’m doing it alone. Recently I was especially touched that he cleaned all the dishes from an afternoon snack of hot chocolate and popcorn. He doesn’t like popcorn very much so it wasn’t even his mess. 


Occasionally we have big cleaning days and for those I’ll make a long list of all the tasks that need to be done and everyone can pick off the list until it’s finished. I’ve found they are much more likely to enjoy a chore if it’s not one they do a lot. And sometimes I’ll clean or do laundry and ask them to make lunch or dinner. They are much more likely to be happy about cooking than cleaning. :)

Edited by Alice
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1.  True chore charts never worked in our home.

2.  Any organizing and follow through HAD to come from me, daily, consistently.

3.  The word "chore" was sort of negative.  We switched to "house maintenance".

4.  Approaching this as a family endeavor that everyone helps out with to maintain our home/lives also helped.

5.  I started apprenticeships with each child.  This, more than anything, made a huge difference.  (more below)

6.  I use Homeschool Planet through Homeschool Buyer's Co-op.  Academics, doctor's appointments and house maintenance goes into that system and everyone's daily duties are printed out daily in checklist form.  I can pull up just my list or a specific child's list or see all of the lists at once and check off as we go or check off at set times or check off at the end of the day but I find we stay on track better if I am checking things at least every couple of hours and gently pushing us back on track if things have not been taken care of.

7.  I made sure everything had a place to go that made logical sense.  For instance, even just for me, I have a very specific location for my teas.  My mugs and anything else I normally need are in the same location.  If things are too cluttered I give stuff away or retask it or sell it.  I am actually still in the process of redoing several rooms because they really are super cluttered.  It is very hard to keep a house clean and organized if things don't have a clearly defined, logically located and convenient place and especially if the house is also super cluttered.  DH and I are very bad about clutter.  That makes it harder on the kids, too.



Honestly, besides decluttering and making sure everything has a clearly defined logical location, apprenticeships for chores was the biggest help, even though it seems like a lot of work and kind of silly.  I will share what I did.  I truly cannot emphasize how much this helped our functionality overall.



  • Each child had a chore they were assigned to train on.  Yes, this seems over the top for simple chores but it really helped.  I explained that they were starting an apprenticeship and I honestly did not expect them to know anything even if they had done the chore before.  I put it on me so they wouldn't feel I thought they were stupid or incompetent.  I told them I hadn't really trained them that well and wanted to start over.  This amazingly took the pressure off, relieved underlying anxiety that they had built up, etc.
  • I budgeted a bit of time each day to work with each child on their chore (house maintenance assignment). 
  • I had them watch me do the chore and explained which parts needed to be done a specific way because it worked better that way and which things were just my personal preference.  I encouraged questions and made it clear that each person may do things a bit differently.  The main thing is to get it done in a way that does not create more work later.  I also tried hard NOT to assume that something should be obvious.  I've been cleaning a lot longer than they have and have the maturity of adulthood to help me out.  They didn't.  What seemed obvious and logical to me might not even remotely seem so to them.  
  • We then did it together the next time it needed to be done.  I focused on effort and successes and not criticism.  Sometimes we needed to do the chore together just once or twice and other times we needed to stick together for a bit longer.  I worked hard not to be impatient.  I also did not assume that just because they did it right one time in front of me they could do it again the next time without me.  It takes time to develop muscle and procedural memory.
  • I then had them do that chore again another day with me scaffolding and praising what they did right.  I focused hard on effort and successes not micromanaging the less than perfect stuff.  (This made a HUGE difference in motivation and focus and they worked harder to do things correctly.).  We sometimes had to do this several times until they could remember every step in order without having to think much about it (again building up muscle and procedural memory).
  • We played music, we sang songs, we swapped stories and I made sure even after they were doing it successfully on their own that I was giving them positive reinforcement for a while so they really would get muscle and procedural memory down and would associate it with a positive experience, not a negative one.
  • I emphasized that we all were working as a team.  
  • As a child mastered a chore (after a couple of days or even a week or two) they would get a little printed certificate showing they had passed their apprenticeship and were now at journeyman status (meaning they could do the chore really well without any help from me, except sometimes gentle reminders).  This was also so helpful because it helped them feel GOOD about doing it alone instead of like the chore was a punishment.
  • Then we would switch things around so they were training on something else while the chore that was mastered would go into their chore rotation through Homeschool Planet.

Truly the apprenticeship program helped the most.  The kids got good at doing the chores, they shifted their focus from "Why me?" to "we are a family and we are good at working as a team", it actually made it much easier for them to remember to do the chore on their own, and now if I need to ask them to do something not on their list they mostly just do it.  


But yeah, just chore charts never did work for us.


Good luck and best wishes.


ETA:  And yes an apprenticeship seems like a lot of work but once we started it was actually pretty fun, it wasn't that hard to implement once we were all comfortable with the plan and putting in that effort then made a HUGE difference down the line.  

Edited by OneStepAtATime
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We have four chores that rotate on a weekly basis among the four oldest.


1.  Dishwasher -- loads and unloads the dishwasher, every time, for the entire week.  Also, cleans the sink. (This part often is forgotten.)

2.  Meal helper -- helps prepare meals.  The older ones can make lunch without me.

3.  Laundry helper -- washes and dries all of the kids' laundry

4.  Table setter/clearer -- sets the table, clears the table and puts away leftovers, cleans the table, sweeps the dining room.  (The sweeping is often forgotten.)

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My kids are older now, but this is what worked for us for years when they were younger.  I use two paper plates, one cut smaller than the other.  Names of our 4 kids on one circle, dinner chores on the other circle.  Wash Dishes, Dinner Prep, Clear and Wipe Table, Sweep.  Each child was assigned one item for the week, and it rotated at the end of the week.  


Something similar to this:  https://www.kennolyncamps.com/2017/02/24/how-to-make-a-chore-wheel-the-summer-camp-way/


I can't keep up with elaborate chore charts.  Dinner chores is really where it's at for me, I get really resentful if I'm stuck in the kitchen doing all the clean up.  I don't mind doing general tidy up through the week myself or reminding others, but fixing dinner and having everyone disappear before dishes are done turns me into the wicked witch of the west!!  I think I'll set up the chore circle again for the 4 of us left at home...


For our Saturday clean up, I write chores on post it notes and let everyone know they need to do 2 or 3 chores, depending on how messy things are or how many people are available to help.  I leave it up to them which chores to do, which makes it motivating to get your chores done fast before you get stuck cleaning all the bathrooms.  General items for Saturday: sweep/mop, dust, vacuum, bathroom, windows, shoe delivery, etc. 


I guess I never really do deep cleaning.  Is that bad?  We move every few years and that seems to help take care of it...

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I wrote down all the general housecleaning chores in a list that could be divided by three, then left space for check marks across the page beside each chore. The kids and I each picked a third of the chores and did them every week, checking them off as we completed them so no one else would do them. All chores had to be done by Friday supper. No chores were done on Sat., and then they reopened Sunday morning at 6am. They weren’t assigned - they were first come, first choice, so s/he who was on the ball got to do the easier chores.


My son would do his Sunday and he therefore got the best chores. My daughter and I (both procrastinators) would be scrambling to finish Friday afternoon, lol. It took several weeks at the beginning to stay on top of them and make it the new normal, but then it really worked well for years without any nagging. They didn’t always clean perfectly, but I loathe housework and put it off anyway, so at least it was getting done every week.


I found there was way more angst when things weren’t scheduled and they were just asked randomly to do stuff. They liked knowing what was expected and when in advance.

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We are restarting using the Accountable Kids program again. I started it several years ago about a month before I had my youngest. Sadly when my youngest was born, it went out the window and I didn't restart it till now. This will be the 3rd week of 4 weeks to start it up again. 


So far it is going really well. I had my oldest ask us to start cleaning the house about a week ago (he doesn't get i-pad till chores are done). My youngest a couple of days ago said he couldn't do something because it didn't say it was time on his peg. 


You can find more about the program by going to www.accountablekids.com They have video on there that talks about each of the steps to implement the program. 

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I use Flyady for myself, so I already have lists of what jobs I do daily, weekly, and every few weeks.


I tweaked my charts to assign some of the jobs to the kids. The kid’s part of the chart shows them what tools to use to do the job and how to do the job. Those are kept in a binder and I open the page to what we’re doing that week.


But honestly, the best way to keep the kids on board is to have the binder where they can see it, but to jot down on pieces of paper what the jobs of that day are. A new paper every day.


They can consult the binder if they don’t remember how to do a specific job that we don’t do that often. They can see it all laid out for the week in the binder. But jotting a “to do†list down each day works best. They can cross the items off the list as they do them and recycle the paper when they’re done. I personally also find that most satisfying. I have the binder with the jobs laid out, but I still will jot them down on paper with all my other things to do and cross them off as I do them.


So...my suggestion:


1. A master list to consult that everyone can see so they know what’s coming.

2. Personal daily lists jotted on scrap paper for each person. It takes a couple of minutes to jot down the jobs, but we all work best with papers we can carry around and toss when we’re done with them.

Edited by Garga
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