Since You Asked . . . Chore Charts and Checklists

I mentioned that I was getting our fall chore charts put together, and several of you asked to see what we do. The thought of me doling out organizational advice is quite comical. If you only knew . . .

I wish I could tell you that I am thoroughly organized, and our kids do their chores every day, and I follow through at each interval with age appropriate reminders and encouragement, and peace and harmony reign. But that fact of the matter is, it is a rare day that our household runs like that. (And by rare, I mean never.)

I’m always going in ten different directions, and I kinda like it that way. I am not a particularly organized person, and I am certainly not one who works well with a schedule (although I’m trying to learn. I figure, I trained my night owl self to be a morning person. Maybe I can learn to follow a schedule!)

I run two blogs (well, okay; one-and-a-half), write for a couple of other sites that are not my own, work on various blogger outreach campaigns, plan monthly events for our local mom blogger community, moderate said mom blogger community, dabble in blog design, and then galavant to various conferences and events throughout the year. And I do all of this around my household and motherly duties, and without regular childcare. (Thank goodness I have a house keeper!!) At any given time, I probably have 10 tabs open in Chrome (and another 10 in Firefox), I’m working on about five different tasks, and I’m carrying on multiple conversations on Skype and Twitter.

Don’t get me wrong. I am NOT claiming to be Superwoman. FAR FROM IT. I am trying to express to you that I am not the kind of mom who stays on top of my kids’ chore charts and homework assignments. I simply can’t. I’m going in too many different directions. (Although with the help of my new virtual assistant and her time blocking techniques, I am learning to focus on maybe two or three things at a time, rather than eight or ten. She’s trying to get me down to doing one thing at a time. We’ll see who wins . . . )

All this to say, I am happy to show you what I have created, and I will tell you how I’d like it to work, but I am by no means telling you that it runs smoothly all the time — because that would be total hypocrisy.

The GOAL is for each child to have his or her own list of duties and chores to complete each day, and they are divided into Morning, Afternoon and Evening. Basically that means Before School, After School, and Before Bed. I created these checklists in Google Docs, and I print new ones each week. They hang on the side of our fridge.

chore charts
Chore Charts, and other assorted clutter

The GOAL is for them to check off when they complete each task, and the GOAL is to print out a new sheet each week and start over.

I repeat . . . it is the GOAL. Because honestly? Some weeks go by when the checklists aren’t even marked on once. But they work great when you actually use them!

So again . . . I’ll tell you how it’s SUPPOSED to work. You can figure out how to make it work, and if you do, would you please let me in on your secret? K’thanks.

Since some of us need more redirection than others, some of the checklists are more thorough than others. *grin* Obviously you will want to do what works for you and fill in your own tasks.

This one is for my 11-year-old son:

My 8-year old daughter’s chart looks like this.

And my 5-year-old’s.

They all switch off on the chores every week. In fact, sometimes we switch them around by the day so no one gets bored or starts claiming that life is unfair (which it is, I always tell them. Might as well get used to it now.)

So anyway. That’s it. Nothing brilliant, but it works . . . if, you know, you use it.

I have also tried various methods for taming the paper tiger. Again, the trick is to find something that I can stick to. So far I have not found a strategy that I really like.

At one point, I hung 4 of those Plastic Pocket Wall Files on my laundry room wall above our coat hooks. The goal was for each child to have one, and I had one, and they would put important papers that I need to sign or look at in mine, and I would take care of them and then put them in theirs, and they would put them in their backpacks, which of course, would hang directly beneath the proper wall file.


Those plastic wall files gathered papers, alright. But nothing important, and they were not organized in any particular way.

And the coat hooks below? Oh my merciful heavens . . . everything gets hung on those coat hooks, including but certainly not limited to coats! It’s a mine field in there. And because I have absolutely no shame, I will show you my laundry room. I won’t even pick it up first. For all of you who think I am neat and tidy at all times? Now you know.

laundry room
I am a slob.

Then once up on a time, I bought this nifty Fridgefile Magnetic Paper Organizer and Message Board to hang on the side of the fridge, and I have no idea what ever happened to that. It never got hung.

Finally, I stuck three Adhesive Clips on the side of the fridge, above the chore charts, and I clip papers on there that I need to sign, or I want to keep. It gets cluttery, and there is no particular organization to them, but at least it keeps them off my counters. Here is what it looks like.

command center
My Command Center, such as it is.

Org Junkie has tons of great ideas in this post on Command Center Ideas, but honestly, we just don’t have the space to do much. If we had a counter beside the fridge, that I could use as a command center, that would be ideal. As you can see, we actually have the space there, but there is no counter. We considered trying to add one once, but we never got that far. So for now this is what we do.

Perhaps we should purchase one of those mobile carts and put it there — the kind some people use for an island? Hmmm . . .

So I’d love to know. How do you keep your kids on task and keep track of chores? Do you have a command center? Any great methods for taming the paper tiger? If you have any brilliant solutions, I’d love to hear them!

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14 thoughts on “Since You Asked . . . Chore Charts and Checklists

  1. I have no words of wisdom. All of our organized chore attempts have fallen into the dust of the time consumer that is known as Jr. High. I have always been proud that we never overscheduled our daughter. She is in the orchestra at school and wanted to try out for the volleyball team and was placed in all pre-AP classes. So now during volleyball season they practice before school so she is at school from 7-4. With at least 1.5 hrs of homework and 20 minutes of violin practice a night with about 45 minutes for a family dinner I don’t have the heart to command her towards her chores. We do catch up on weekends though. SIGH. The always evolving art of motherhood rule: you will get one system down just enough to make you smug and then POOF…on to the next age and stage!

  2. Only have a minute…just a couple of quick thoughts. I’m kind of a “piler” myself. I have piles everywhere. Sometimes they are neat but sometimes not. Anyway, the command hook system that you have is probably one of the best ones. If it’s in a lovely labeled file and I don’t see it with my eyes, then I forget about it. If I see the pile, I know what’s in it and it’s a constant visual reminder. And…about the command center….sometimes I wish for a kitchen desk or command center counter, but then I realize that it would quickly become a yet another space for people to dump stuff…papers…mail, etc. So, maybe a cute table like you have there is better! Just a thought! 🙂

  3. The more I read your blog the more I like you. I felt like I was reading about myself in much of this post. I really appreciate organization and organizational systems I just can’t find one that I can stick with or that sticks with me. There should be, maybe there is, a system for the organizationally challenged. I don’t have a command center but would like one. We will eventually be turning the room next to our kitchen into our homeschooling room complete with nice organizational furniture (or something like that) so maybe then I’ll have a space. Right now my goal is to get up earlier, maybe that will help me be more organized?!

  4. LOL! I laugh because we have the same sort of ideals but not necessarily follow through! 🙂 I find that there’s a certain level of organization that works for us and above that level is a waste and below that level is chaos. For example, we have ONE basket for school papers. Everyone empties out their backpack and puts them ALL in ONE basket. That way I just stand there and sift through it all at once. 3 different baskets would be more organized, but we’d never be able to keep up with it all. Same with the coat rack. (We have one just like yours!) Coats and backpacks are hung up every day after school. It would be nice if everyone had their own designated hooks and nothing extra ever ended up there. But I’ve let that go for the greater good of just knowing that the coats and backpacks ARE on that rack, somewhere, every day, to be found in the morning.

  5. I remember the days when (my sons were little) I felt like I was going to meet myself coming & going & a major crash would occur but, alas they are both grown men now with families of their own (I survived!) With that said, I’m now a busy Nana & find that (occasionally) I still have trouble (I blame my age -50, which is such a convenient excuse!) … life is busy & it’s sometimes hard to keep it all straight (& I’m not one to thrive in chaos) … I love the pic of your laundry room! It’s real and I like real. You’re a busy gal! Thank you for sharing!

  6. I did a chart like that for a kid that I nannyed briefly. Bwahaha. Yeah, good luck with that. Not to be cynical at all but I just couldn’t keep up with it myself. Too much work on top of everything else.

    But, it never hurts to try!

  7. You should have the kids organize the paper clutter! Another idea, slips of paper (with a chore) in a jar and everyday they each draw a few. You could keep them out until they all get done, or throw them back in. If they can’t do it, draw another or get a helper.

  8. It is really encouraging to know that OTHER mommies out there in the blogosphere also have disastrous laundry rooms! The other day I caught myself Photoshopping dirt out of a picture before I posted it on Facebook. How sad is that?

  9. I finally had a moment to say something about back to school organization. Every year I do a little better, though the system is never perfect, and it’s never going to be. 🙂

    I’ve been using Evernote, an online filing cabinet, for a little while. However, I read Evernote Essentials (just updated, too!) plus Michael Hyatt’s posts on using Evernote, and I’m adding more stuff to Evernote. I’ve got the action plans for the kids in there, plus errand lists, and anything else I can think of to get all the info in one place that I can access anywhere, including my phone.

    My other favorite tool that I’ve used for several years is a file bin with monthly hanging files and weekly folders. Almost everything that comes home from school goes into the weekly folders. I clean out the unnecessary stuff monthly, but not the school work. We review that at the end of the year.

    1. Hm. Interesting, on both counts. I do have hanging files in my file drawer in my desk. I could try that. Since they are right here where I sit 8 hours a day, lol, I *SHOULD* be able to use them.

  10. (Although with the help of my new virtual assistant and her time blocking techniques, I am learning to focus on maybe two or three things at a time, rather than eight or ten. She’s trying to get me down to doing one thing at a time. We’ll see who wins . . . )

    Can you tell me more about this “virtual assistant”? 🙂

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