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Kids and Their Chores

Updated on October 18, 2008
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Rebecca Graf is a seasoned writer with nearly a decade of experience and degrees in accounting, history, and creative writing.

Kids! How can you get them to get their rooms clean? How can you get them to help pick up the living room floor? Feels impossible.

We have three children ages 12, 10, and 6. The two youngest are ADHD. My husband is ADHD, also. I’m the type of person that is not overly organized but needs a little organization around her at all times if I’m going to accomplish any goals.

After fighting every day about feeding the dog, picking up the floor of their rooms, brushing their teeth, and taking their vitamins I said that enough was enough. I decided to implement a version of my task lists that I would make for myself to get projects accomplished. My current system is still a work in process but it has taken a year to develop with trial and error and much research. And I mean research. I’ve been online looking at tips, reading books on the topics, and talking to teachers and therapists. But since every kid is different and they change as they mature and grow, this system also matures and grows with them. Things that work this week might not work next week. So I am constantly thinking of new things or revisiting old ideas and revamping them. Ask anybody who has know us and they’ll tell you that they see a major difference in our house. Though we are not ready for the home magazines to visit us, and I don’t know if we want that. What we want is that everyone in the house respect each other and take pride in what we have been blessed with.

What I did was create an Excel spreadsheet listing out all the things that we need to do from the time we get till we go to bed. Now the spreadsheet is VERY large. I list out getting up at a certain time, brushing teeth, brushing hair, making the bus on time, doing homework, and so forth. I mean that I list out what some of us would consider the most basic and daily activities because if I don’t they will be forgotten. When my son was just beginning to put deodorant on, I put it on the list. My husband and I were not complaining about getting points for doing something so habitual for us. I even have an item for going to school. I also began listing out new habits that I want them to develop like walking every day, morning exercises, or being helpful.

Now, each line or activity has a point value attached to it. I have almost all of them set at 100 points (I started off with 5 and 10 points but the kids loved seeing the high numbers and it encouraged them). Bigger and dirtier chores like scooping the litter box rate higher – 200 points. Scrubbing the bathroom is worth 500 because it is not fun.

Activities that are only weekly or other periodic times are also on the list so that I don’t forget them. I just hide the lines that are not needed for that day. Piano lessons, basketball practice, and youth group are on there. I then have a column with each person’s name on the heading and have a formula that totals all the points under their name. As they complete a task correctly, I put the point value of it in the appropriate cell under their name. The formula captures it. If the chore is not done they lose those points that were allotted for it. We also have a line for fit/attitude. If they cop an attitude or throw a fit, it is 200 points that they lose. If they go all day doing great, they get those 200 points as a reward.

The reward at the end of the day is a poker chip. We tried giving at the end of the week, but they had to visually see things and not have it in a virtual “bank”. At the end of each day, we take their total points and give them one chip for every 500 points. The other day my daughter raked in 10 chips; she was so excited. At the end of each week we have budgeted them to have $15 each for their allowance. Therefore, each chip is worth a dollar and on Friday they can cash in up to $15 for money or save their chips for other “expenses”. To go to a friend’s house is 10 chips, one hour of TV is 1 chip, refusing to do anything for one day is 15 chips, computer games is 1 chip every hour, and so forth. If something is not on our existing list, we discuss it and come up an appropriate “cost”.

I’ve also developed bonuses for them. If they finish certain chores within a certain time-frame (my attempt at them not to length everything out), they get 500 bonus points. I come up with all sorts of bonus ones and it encourages them.

My husband and I also have put ourselves on this system. If he wants to go fishing, he needs to have his 10 chips in his “bank”. He doesn’t do his chores and he loses those points. I do the same thing. I’ve actually gotten to where I cannot live without this list with me since I’ve even put my day job on there to reward me for getting projects done. I don’t meet my goal, I cough up the points.

I’ve tried writing these on dry-erase boards and putting them in their rooms, but with my children it does not work. But you could try it with yours. I’ve tried putting the chores on a cork board in the main hallway and they have to visit it to see what to do next. Some days that works. I usually keep my laptop with me and refer it to continually to make sure everyone is on task. As they get more independent, I don’t have to hound them and have the “report” to me at end of day with everything they got done.

As I said, this is a work in process as they grow and mature and our lives move forward. What am I saying, as we ALL grow and mature. I’ll admit that I spend a lot of time monitoring it, but as I said before my tasks are on it, too.

But we are all pleased overall how this is working out. The house is not as messy as it was and we are not forgetting things in the mad rush of live like we used to. I’ve even got friends asking me how it is done and I’ll be preparing them templates of my spreadsheet and passing it on.

Give it a try and good luck.


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    • megs78 profile image

      megs78 8 years ago from quebec

      It's something I think every parent is after their children about. My kids are not too bad in that department, but its off and on depending on their moods. However, homework is something I struggle with. Thanks for the tips, I may just have to implement them at some point.:)