“Many hands lighten the load!” This saying could not be more true! When you’re first training your child to do chores, he’ll need a lot of: “do this, – now do that, – don’t do this, – now this, – great job,” but at some point, you want to know how to create a chore system that works without reminding or nagging.
You want to hand all that training over to him and expect your child to do what needs to be done, correctly without being told. So while getting your child to do chores is the first step, teaching a child responsibility and ownership of his own chores must be done as well. Lest you find yourself nagging and reminding your child about his chores all the live long day!
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Keeping Track of Chores Gets More Difficult Over Time
When I had only one child, it was pretty easy for me to keep track of… well, everything. Myself, my husband, the baby, the dog. However, as we added a 2nd, then a 3rd, I noticed that it became increasingly difficult to keep track of everyone’s needs.
The sooner you begin teaching your child that she is part of a team and requiring her to do her part to serve the family, the better. Once you have chores and responsibilities assigned to every member of the family, the best way to keep track of all of it is to not store it in your head.
Get Everything Out in a Visual and Tangible Way.
I have been using the “Tabs” system below to teach my children to be in charge of their own responsibilities since 2011. I want to share it with you today because I know this chore system will do more for you than just help you teach your children to do chores.
It’ll help you train, teach and parent in an effective and less stressful way. A chore system that works, and takes the burden of keeping track of chores OFF of mom, is a must.
So, what is this super simple way to keep track of chores? Well, I’ll show you, but I want to do more than just show you. I’m going to walk you through how to come up with what to include in your chores system and how to make the system itself. Ready, Freddy? Alright…. Let’s do it.
Create a Simple Chore System Your Child Can Do On His Own.
Before we walk through the step by steps of how to create this chore system, I’m going to give you the down-and-dirty version of what we’re doing here, so you can understand the purpose. You’re going to make a list of everything your child needs to accomplish in a day.
From feeding the dog to homework, to dishes, to bed. You can include in this list anything and everything that you don’t want to have to say out loud. No list is too detailed. More is better.
Then you’re going to make the list – large – and print it out. You’ll then laminate each responsibility and display it in a way that your child can see. Your kiddo will do the task, then “FLIP” the responsibility over so he can have a visual and physical representation that the chore or task is done.
Lastly, you’ll make it known that all privileges cannot be had until his entire list is flipped over. Want to play outside? Are all your tabs flipped? Want to watch a cartoon? Are all your tabs flipped? Want to…. well, you get the picture.
Why is this system so much easier than others? Because each day is laid out and it’s EASY TO SEE when everything is done. As my kids have grown, I’ve tried different chore charts and ways to keep track of responsibilities. Everything else I’ve tried has some element that I am responsible for.
Which means, there’s still room for Mommy frustration. My goal is to remove myself as much as possible from their responsibilities, so they truly become THEIR responsibilities!
This chore system eliminates all nagging, all reminding and all Mommy frustration! This is simple cause and effect. Which is by and far, the best way to teach a child to do anything!
How to Create a Chore System that Works Without Reminding or Nagging
Step 1. Make a list.
- Pull up a word document, pages in MAC, or just get a paper and pencil. Make a list of everything you want your child to accomplish in a day. If your child will have different responsibilities on Tuesday then she does on Friday; include every single thing she would need to do in a week or a month, on this first master list.
- As I said before, no list is too detailed. If you don’t want to have to tell your child to eat his breakfast, then include “BREAKFAST” on the list. Below is what my list looked like when I first typed it up for the 2018-2019 school year. Now, don’t go zoning out on me, because my list has the word Grammar in it. We homeschool, so there are a lot of educational tabs in our chart. HOWEVER, this system is to teach responsibility, NOT to keep track of homeschooling, so keep reading!
Step 2. Customize it.
- Use your word document, pages app, or some markers or colored pencils to customize your list. You’ll want to make each “task-word” bigger and a color your child will associate with. Make each “task-word” .5 to 1.5 inches tall, depending on how well your child reads. Do this with each task on your entire list.
Steps 3. Print, cut and laminate.
- Print your list out. This is simple. However, this is also where your work gets kind of tedious. Don’t worry, I promise it’ll be worth it. After you’ve made the words bigger, and printed them, you’ll need to cut them out.
- Cut as close to the word as you like, just keep the overall size in mind. If your child will have a lot of these “tabs” you won’t want them to be too big, or they won’t all fit. Notice how I used crinkle scissors to cut out our words? Yup… that is about as creative or crafty as I get. So don’t expect any more of that froo-froo from me any time soon.
- Once you have all the “task-words” printed and cut, you’ll want to laminate them. Purchasing a Laminator like this one was one of the best investments I’ve ever made. I use it to laminate meal plans and cleaning schedules as well as various items for the children’s schooling. Laminate each word as I have done below. Then cut each laminated word out. Again, paying attention to how big you want the “tab” to be.
Step 4. Ribbon and board.
- You’ll need ribbons like this and a tack board like this (or something) to keep your tabs attached to. (my cork board is ugly, I’ll include a link to a prettier one for you:) Hang the board (decorate it if you like.) Cut a strip of ribbon for your child. Get a thick, weighty ribbon, so it doesn’t flap around too much. Let your child pick the color of ribbon. You want to create a system she is proud of and that feels personal.
Step 5. Put it all together.
- Hang the board, attach the ribbon with push pins like these. If you don’t like the idea of having these push pins around (which I totally understand,) you’ll want to consider attaching hooks like this in a more permanent way to your board. Then attach the ‘tabs’ to the ribbon with clothespins like these. Viola!
How to Use Your New Chore System
While teaching a child to do chores is important; raising a self-efficient, responsible, little human is the more important goal. Therefore, this chores system isn’t so much a chores system as it is a “Teach Your Child to Take Ownership and Responsibility For His Own Life System.”
Have a short chat with your child about what you’ll expect of him on a daily basis. This chat might sound something like this: “Jo, I have made you a cool list of what I want you to get done in a day. Every day, I will display what is required of you.
You must go to that list, do the action items on the list and flip each one over as you complete it until they are all done. When all the tabs are flipped over, you may come to ask for free time.”
The most important action you can take after that chat is to follow through! If you see your child outside playing and his tabs are not flipped over, call him in and instruct him to get back to work. It’ll require a little (or a lot of) training and it may feel some days like he doesn’t get to play at all.
Just remember the better you are with follow through on those few days, the more he’ll get to play and enjoy life in the future, when there’s no arguing, nagging, reminding or stressed-and-frazzled mommy.
Commonly Asked Questions.
#1. What about my toddler? She can’t read yet.
For your little one who is too young to read the words, you have two options to customize this chore charting system. You may either cut out pictures from magazines of the action you want your child to do (like a pic of a sleeping child for nap time,) or you can spend some time teaching sight words.
Small children will only have a few things you expect them to be responsible for. Therefore it wouldn’t take much time to teach your toddler to recognize a word by sight. Show her the words ‘pick up’ on a tab, then show her what to do. Before long, she’ll know what that tab means. (the brain development you’ll be nurturing is a huge added plus to this!)
#2. Won’t I still have to nag and remind them to do and flip over the tabs?
Only if you really like reminding and nagging. The beauty of these tabs is the visual representation of all there is to do. Some tabs will only take 5 minutes to accomplish, some may take 30. Regardless, present them to your child and tell him, he may not have privileges until they are done.
If he whines, say nothing. If he lays down on the floor and cries, say nothing. Should he head outside or pick up a screen, gently but firmly lead him back inside or take the screen away, but say nothing. Stick to it. Follow through. Need to work on whining, read here. Need to work on first-time obedience? Read here and get my free ebook here.
#3. Do I have to set the tabs up every morning?
You only have to set the tabs up every morning if you don’t have a master list of weekly responsibilities. When I first began using this responsibility system for our daily tasks, I would display the necessary tabs on a daily basis.
Then as the children got older, I created a weekly master list for them to pull tasks from. This is really only necessary if you shuffle certain chores between kids or have a schedule with a lot of variables.
A weekly master list is necessary for us, because of homeschooling. The children do not have the same set of tasks and school assignments on Friday as they do on Tuesday, so they look at the master list to see what tabs to add on each day. Tabs that don’t need to be included in a particular day are kept in a designated location.
About a month or so into a new school year, my children don’t need the master list or the tabs. At that point, they’ve gone through the process of checking the list, placing their assigned task tabs, and completing everything, so many times, that they have a solid routine for each day of the week. A solid routine – I don’t have to remind or nag them about.
Why is Raising a Responsible Child So Enormously Important?
You want your child to grow to be an upstanding adult. That’s a given. The reason you’re even thinking about chores, researching chore charts and chore systems, and reading this blog right now, is because you desire to raise a great kid!
But there’s a reason for having responsible children that is often overlooked. Well… it’s either overlooked or swept under the rug.
The responsibility of a child at home goes beyond unloading the dishwasher. I think the best way to help you understand how important this is, is to tell you about a day at our house with a sick mommy.
I don’t get sick often, but when I do, it wipes me out. Down for the count. “Someone please come help, because I can’t function” kind of sick! When this happens in my life today, I don’t need any outside help. I have all the help I need within the walls of my home.
My children know better than anyone else, how to take care of the animals, prepare themselves lunch, clean up the kitchen, care for the 3-year-old and bring mommy a cold rag! They understand that God placed the 6 of us together on purpose. We are a family. Which means, we serve each other, we care for each other and we all do our share.
It’s enormously important for your child to be responsible because you need some help. Let’s be real… it’s kinda easy to do it all on your own while your child is small. But children grow quickly and so does the responsibility.
Raise a Responsible Child – The World Will Be a Better Place.
Train and teach your child not only how to do chores, but why it even matters. Spend some time training him so he can do it well, then hand the responsibility over to him. Set up a simple and effective chore system like the one I’ve laid out above. Then walk away.
Allow your child to be in charge of his own success and failure. The world will be a better place because of your good parenting! Have a question? Just ask! Drop a note in the comments below. CLICK HERE TO READ ANOTHER POST LIKE THIS
- Laminator HERE
- Paper HERE
- The Best Pencils HERE
- Colored Pencils HERE
- Markers HERE
- Ribbon HERE
- Cork Board HERE
- Push Pins HERE
- Hooks HERE