Changing Chores – The Art & Science of Knowing Who Gets What Chore

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Changing Chores:  The Art & Science of Knowing Who Gets What Chores | RaisingArrows.netEveryone has had the same Home Blessing Chores for a year and a half. A few weeks ago I realized my 7 year old wasn’t working up to his current capabilities.  I also realized each child needed to learn some new skills, so I finally forced myself to rework Home Blessing chores.

I’m going to confess right here and now…reworking any set routine is a difficult task.  You get set in your ways.  It’s mindless and everyone appreciates that.  In fact, the morning we implemented the new chores, my husband warned, “Be prepared for attitudes!”

Boy, was he right!  {more on that in a moment…}

So, I’ve told you the how and why behind our original Home Blessing chores.  Today, I want to talk you through what to do when its time to change those chores.

How do you know when it is time to change chores?

  • Your children’s abilities have significantly changed.
  • Your children are completing their assigned tasks with proficiency.
  • You are adding a new child to the lineup of workers.

How do you go about changing chores?

1.  Review the old chore chart and make notes ON the chart itself.  Our chart was laminated, so I took a wet erase marker and made notes about who I thought ought to get what chore.

Note:  Not all chores can simply be passed on to the next child down.  For instance, my oldest son still has to vacuum downstairs because the vacuum is too heavy for any of his younger siblings to haul downstairs.  He will also continue to clean out the van until his sisters are a little older.  Think through the chores based on each child’s abilities and the areas they need to work on.

2.  Type up a new list and go over it with your husband and children.  Going over it before it actually took place gave everyone time to mull it over and voice their concerns and comments.  I went over my list with my husband first to make sure it all sounded good to him, THEN I went over it with the children.  That way I knew Dad and I were on the same page.  Do listen to any concerns and comments from the children, but do not let the children complain themselves out of a job they are really capable of.

3.  Expect to micro-manage the first 2 weeks.  This past Friday was our first day working the new chores.  I got NONE of my own work done until after everyone was finished with theirs.  Next week, I expect more of the same.  You will be needed to guide them through chores, check their work, and walk them through any mistakes or missed steps.  You will also need to keep everyone on task!

4.  Make notes as you go.  Make notes to yourself and make notes to the children.

Home Blessing Notes

My 15 year old handed over bathroom chores to his younger siblings.  As he walked them through the steps, I wrote out a very simplified list of the steps in order so that they could simply glance at the list and remember what he had taught them.  I then posted that list inside the bathroom cabinet.

I also made notes to myself on the new printed out Home Blessing list.  I reordered certain chores because they didn’t fit with what others in the household were working on.  For instance, my daughter can’t sweep and mop the hallways until her brother is finished cleaning the bathroom because he puts everything from the bathroom out in the hallway!  This is another reason you should expect at least 2 weeks of micromanagement.  It’s going to take that long just to get things in the right order.

What was that about attitudes?

Um, yeah.  Attitudes…*sigh*.  As much as I hope to ward off any attitudes and complaints concerning a new chore list, it just isn’t realistic.  First of all, I have one child who hates change of any kind.  She loses all sense of direction and becomes completely discombobulated to the point of being irrational.  At one point, we stopped everything and I took her on the porch for a break.  I talked her through everything, including what I expected of her attitude.

Was she still frustrated?  Yes.  But, at least she clearly understood what was expected.  I also informed her that poor attitudes would result in MORE work, not less.  And I followed through on that.  By the end of chore time (which was an hour longer than usual), she was calm and got to enjoy the start of her weekend.

Ultimately, the name of the changing chore game is to KEEP GOING.  So often, parents give up on a great chore list because it is a tedious process.  A little grumpiness, a few missed chores, and one all-out fit brings the training to a complete stop with mom swearing she’s better off just doing it herself.

Mama, keep going.

Teaching your children to run a household is important!  Don’t give up on it.  Persevere!  So often, I have people ask how I ended up with such servant-hearted children who help not only our family, but others.  The answer is I KEPT GOING.  It’s not always fun and it’s not always easy, but it is ALWAYS worth it.

17 Comments on Changing Chores – The Art & Science of Knowing Who Gets What Chore

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17 thoughts on “Changing Chores – The Art & Science of Knowing Who Gets What Chore

  1. Oh Attitude! Buggle (6 yr. old son) is going through a period of attitudes every time it’s time for jobs especially when the job is one someone else normally does. Doing regular chores is fine as he loves routine, but just pitching in when there’s extra work for some reason is really hard. He either fusses and fusses, outright refuses, or dawdles amazingly. Outright refusal is straightforward to deal with, dawdling gets a timer set and an extra job assigned if the timer beats him, and fussing means he has to run up and down the stairs until his attitude improves. Any other suggestions? He’s the eldest and his attitudes tend to throw everyone else off….K

    • I would actually consider positive reinforcement to “retrain” the behavior of immediately complaining. Perhaps even something your son can actually see (like a marble jar or some such thing). :)

  2. We did a chore change up 2 weeks ago and it seems to be going well, now. We have one who doesn’t like change as well and much of the first day was spent in tears. We made a chore board with movable chores and the kids all try to get out of chores if they come down in the morning and I didn’t put new chores up, but I usually send them on to the first chore I’m expecting and then adjust the chore board.

  3. I really enjoyed this post. I have found chore plans to be much like dieting – you have to customize them to what fits your family’s personalities and needs. In my family, the attitude starts when I DO NOT change the chores up. The past few years, each child had a list of chores they were responsible for the entire summer. Inevitably, everyone had the “grass is greener” mentality and wanted any set of chores other than the ones assigned to them. This summer I decided to make 3 lists of chores (I have 3 children) and each week we would rotate which list they were in charge of. All the same chores got done each week but they enjoyed knowing that after they did this weeks chores they wouldn’t have to do these particular jobs the next 2 weeks. This system has worked much better for us. So, I encourage moms to not be afraid to experiment. If your current chore system isn’t really working, try something different. The kids will never be THRILLED to do chores but finding a system that works makes it less painful for everyone involved :)

  4. Mine are a bit too young to be helping out with house chores much, but I’m definitely looking forward to when they do! I learned what NOT to do from my family growing up. Each of us had our zones and never swapped. I was a pro kitchen-cleaner-upper, but I’d never cleaned a bathroom or vaccumed EVER until I got married. Set me up for a bit of a rough start, but I learned. 😉 ~Kelsey

  5. Thank you for posting on this topic! I typically review my daughters’ chores and other responsibilities when they have their birthdays – which both happen in the same week, so it’s a good time to make adjustments! I will definitely keep these ideas in mind this time around.

  6. I am a momma of seven and find myself in the same situation! My “Bigs” (ages 16.14,13) have mastered most of the chores that have been assigned to them. However, I now have an eight year old that I need to work into our regular chore routine and a five year old who is chomping at the bit to be included (which is a blessing I know!). But my oh my, let me tell you that disturbing our routine is not a task that this mama was ready to take on. A few weeks ago…okay probably a few months ago, I had each Big write a checklist for each chore that they were responsible for doing. My intent was/is to make a chore manual to hold us all accountable and ensure that they are aware of the standard ( what is expected) for each area. Still haven’t put it together….put I am definitely nudged to follow through with doing so after reading your post. Thank you Amy for the encourager that you are to so many!

  7. Amy, I love your ideas for home chores. I have 2 little ones, but I have already started teaching them certain things. I hope it will be easier once they are more independent. I’m taking notes here!!

  8. We’ve always rotated chores monthly, with the 2 three year olds alternating between setting/washing the table and washing the stairs (wooden). The two 6 year olds alternate monthly between vacuuming the living room and mopping the kitchen. Every one else rotates through the rest of the chores, doing the same job all month.

  9. I am feeling pretty defeated in this area these days… What did you do when you had a house full of littles? I’m constantly trying to train them to help but there is so much that I need to get done as well as taking care of 4 children 7 and under, I really do have to “just do it myself” pretty often, just so I can move on to the next thing, which is usually something urgent like a crying hungry baby, a bleeding knee, or burning supper.
    Did you find anything that helped you get to the point of them being able to truly help during these days? At this point, they need me to be right there instructing, reminding, helping for them to be able to complete any chore. I’d like to move them (at least the 7yo boy and 5yo girl) to being able to complete a chore from start to finish and feel that they accomplished it.

    • I also have 4 children and the eldest is 6. I find that I often have them do part of a job (the three year old takes the plates and bowls out of the dishwasher and puts them on the low shelves where they go) while I do the rest. This enables me to work with them and also does speed things up for me a bit. Mostly it doesn’t but I know it will in a few years. I keep chore charts for each of them and myself in order to help with my consistency. Some days it goes well and some days not. Hang in there….K

      • Thank you for the encouragement Kyndra.
        I do some of that too. I need to keep at it.
        Most days I question whether I’m expecting too much of them and getting frustrated when they can’t do it, or expecting too little and not requiring them to learn more. :)

      • That’s a great idea, Amy! Anything that I’ve tried to do that’s too complicated just loses them. But they do love to watch as my to-do list gets crossed off during the day. And they love to add things to my to do list too… make ice cream, go to the park, etc 😉
        We could have one big family to do list!

  10. How blessed ur family is to have such a dedicated goal. You are definitely teaching ur little arrows to fly straight and true. God bless all of you. I really like ur mailing address !

  11. Amen. And if I might add a reason to change it up? When someone flies from the nest!! Six out of our eight children are married, or are working/ministering adults out on their own. I am in the process of reworking our chore list. Yes, there are less workers, but also less work. ( or should I say different work? No, that’s another subject for another day.) it will happen guys!! :))