As our kids are getting a little older, I thought it might be a good time to introduce a simple chore chart to teach them shared responsibility, goal setting, and following through on commitments. Sometimes parents can be so hard on ourselves (and others) when it comes to the idea of putting our kids "to work" at a young age. I've even heard the term "child-labor" thrown around...which is, of course, silly and even dangerous.
I never thought I would say this, but "when I was their age..." I did chores around our house all. the. time. I started helping to clean at six, babysitting when I was 12, and was expected to cook for the whole family as a teenager. (I began working at a fast food restaurant when I was 14 and I'm still alive to talk about it!)
I'm proud of those experiences, and they taught me a deep sense of gratitude and a positive attitude. I think those are all experiences we want to give our children. So! This is a super simple DIY to help your kids visualize their responsibilities and celebrate their little achievements along the way.
- IKEA picture frame (like this one)
- White sheet of cardstock or paper (to fit frame)
- Washi-tape (or any tape will do)
- Dry erase marker
- Optional: Ruler and pencil
Cut your sheet of paper to fit the size of your frame. Then place the mat over the piece of paper so you can see the area you have to work with.
If you prefer, use a ruler and pencil to create perfectly straight lines. I opted to skip this step and just go with the flow. It's a bit wonky, but I'm ok with that!
Place washi tape over the marked lines or wherever you decide in a grid-pattern. Make sure the boxes are big enough to write in according to how your chart will work. I created 3 rows (per kid) and 4 columns (one for names and morning/afternoon/evening chores).
Place the mat and paper back into the frame securely.
Just like that, you're done! Simply use a dry erase marker to write whatever you desire.
I let my oldest son, who is 6, write down some things he wanted to work on and cross off the ones he completed. He loved it! Or simply write specific and simple chores like: make bed, brush teeth, get dressed, empty lunch bag, put dishes away (in dishwasher), etc. They are all age-appropriate things we do on a regular basis, but it gives them little assignments where they receive fun rewards along the way. We even bought a little dust buster that the kids can use, so we'll be putting "vacuum room" on the chores list very soon. The best part is, right now they think it's fun and I'm totally ok with that!
But more importantly, I've read recently that "children who do have a set of chores have higher self-esteem, are more responsible, and are better able to deal with frustration and delay gratification, all of which contribute to greater success in school" (The Center for Parenting Education).
And those are the kind of human beings I am trying to raise. Ones that know no limits, are responsible and can deal with whatever good or bad may come their way with a bit of wisdom and confidence.