Do your children do chores in your household?
Do they do them willingly and without being asked and reminded repeatedly?
Take heart; mine don't either.
To that end, I wish I'd had "chore charts" to use with my son and daughter when they were younger. At SchoolFamily.com, we've created some terrific chore charts that can be printed out and used with children as young as 3 and as old as 17. Each of our six charts is tailored to a specific age group: 3-4 year olds; those ages 5-6; 7-9; 10-12; 13-14; and 15-17. Best of all, they're customizable with your own chores in addition to the ones we've listed.
Over the years, I tried using "job" charts with my kids, but they were never as clear and specific as these charts. Mine were rudimentary. I taped them to a wall or pinned them to a bulletin board, amid great fanfare with my kids, and they were quickly forgotten after a week or so (sometimes less).
I've heard child development experts—and my husband—insist that having kids be responsible for chores makes them more responsible in general. It also shows them that taking care of a household and having it run smoothly (well, as smoothly as it can) only works if everyone does their part.
Without the use of chore charts, the routine in my household occasionally runs like a well-staged, highly emotional melodrama, with performances several night a week:
It's late afternoon on a weekday:
ME [To my high school daughter, age 16]: "Sweetie, would you please unload the dishwasher and clean the kitty litter after you finish your homework?"
HER: [Initial silence]
ME: [Voice rising slightly] "Did you hear me?"
HER: [Voice rising significantly] "I know. I HEARD you and I said I WOULD."
ME: "Well, okay. I didn't hear you respond."
HER: "I'll do it in a MINUTE."
Three to four hours pass and it's now mid-evening:
ME: [Spoken in a sing-songy voice, trying to avoid a meltdown] "Sweetie, the dishwasher and kitty litter still need your attention."
HER: "Man, why do I have to do EVERYTHING around here?"
ME: [Restraining my urge to suddenly have her become homeless] "We all do our part, and if you'd just done it when I'd asked, you'd ..."
HER: [Interrupting me] "I WAS BUSY."
ME: [Heavy sigh. Awash with feelings of ineffectiveness as a parent; fury at this child; realization that if I'd just done the chores myself, they'd have been done hours ago; and annoyance at myself for even considering doing them myself. Repeat.]
ME: [Note to self: "PRINT OUT chore charts.]
Want to end this well-rehearsed melodrama at your own house? Check out our chore charts.