This is our new easy chore system. You can easily make it with items at home: Envelopes, Index Cards, and Stickers. I have a few of the little sticker charts from the dollar store, but you could just draw 25 boxes if you don’t have any.
It is super simple! In the daily envelope, there are index cards listing daily tasks. When my younger daughter completes a daily task, it is moved to the “Daily Done” envelope. For each daily task, she gets a sticker on the little chart. At bedtime, the daily cards go back in the daily envelope.
In the weekly envelope, there are 10 weekly chores that need to be done. (Clean bedroom, Clean Kitchen, Etc.) For each weekly chore that my daughter completes, she gets 2 stickers. She might have help with some of them, but as long as she does a significant amount of work towards it, she gets the stickers.
On Saturdays, we put all of the weekly cards back in the weekly envelope. There will definitely be weeks when we don’t get to all of the weekly chores, and that is OKAY. Doing something is better than nothing, that’s my philosophy!
When she gets 5 stickers, she gets a small prize from the 5 sticker bin. They are cheap, fun, consumable things, because the last thing I need is more junk around the house.
When she reaches 25 stickers, filling up the chart, she gets a bigger prize, such as a $5 gift card to somewhere, a nail polish, or a Dvd. There is also a $5 bill with a ribbon around it in the 25 sticker bin. Again, I try to avoid junk that she doesn’t need.
My almost-18 year old and I also do chores, but we don’t get stickers or prizes A bonus to having this system for my younger girl is that it reminds me to get my stuff done, too.
You’d think after 18 years as a mama, I’d have this kind of thing down by now, but I am still learning. Always.
I’ve learned a few key things over the years and I’ve applied them to my new system. These things may or may not apply to you, depending on if you’ve got a scattered, free spirit brain like I do. In case you (or one of your poor children) are anything like me, here’s a few insights I’ve gained after trying, and failing, with many, many systems over the years.
Out of Sight, Out of Mind
I put these envelopes on our kitchen cabinets, where I will see them every day. In the past, I’ve tried to put charts, lists, etc. in notebooks or drawers, but I’ve learned that if I don’t see it regularly, I will forget about it.
Having something like this out for everyone to see doesn’t thrill me. However, I decided that if it kept us in line, it would be easier on the eyes than the dust bunnies and piles of junk that tend to build up when a long-forgotten system is hiding in a drawer.
We actually did this envelope idea last year, and it worked really well for us. That is, until Christmastime, when I moved the envelopes to our garage door in order to make room for our Christmas garland. They were completely out of sight and I eventually just tossed them. This time, They are front and center and I won’t need to move them for any decorations.
My Kids Need Specific Directions
At least one of my girls has inherited her Mommy’s creative, messy brain, so I’ve found that I need to detail chores very specifically.
For this reason, each weekly task has a list of every thing that must be done for that chore to be considered complete. For example, there is a card that reads: Clean the Bathroom. On it is listed everything one must do to clean the bathroom.
This makes it easier on them, and easier on me, as I no longer have to say over and over again what need to be done!
Money Doesn’t Work For Us
My kids don’t really have a regular allowance. I’ve always liked the idea that you do chores because you are part of the family and need to contribute. I’ve experimented with paying for chores instead of giving an allowance, and I’ve also tried basing allowance on chores. In addition to it not sitting right with how I feel about the idea in general, there is another huge problem.
Here’s the problem with that: Me!
I have to be really on top of that and keep track of their chores and make sure I pay them every week. And I honestly suck at doing that. I am not organized or consistent enough. And there are always weeks when we are using the change jar just to buy bread, so paying out for chores every Saturday doesn’t always work. Prizes just work better for us.
My almost-18 year old does chores because she’s an adult and lives here for free. So, no prizes or payment is needed or expected. In fact, now that both of my girls work (the 11 year old babysits), allowances isn’t something we bother with anymore.
No System Lasts Forever
No matter how good it is, I will eventually grow tired of said system or chart and feel the need to improve it. What is actually happening, of course, is that over time my brain stops seeing the envelopes, or chart, or list, (just like it does with all the clutter) and I’ll walk past it for three weeks without actually doing it. Now you see just how Domestically Challenged I really am.
But that’s okay! I still have hope that one day, I’ll find something that works for me and will last. But what I hope for even more is to someday strike it rich enough to afford a housekeeper. Now that’s worth fantasizing about… especially as you scrub floors
Do you think the envelope system might work for you? (For awhile anyway.) Let me know if you give it a try!