Friday, April 16, 2010

day one hundred six: chores—tips for creating a chore schedule

“Before I knew it, it was time to set the table for lunch. Josiah and I raced to see who could get done with our jobs first. I slowed down at the end so Josiah could catch up---then I let him win! Mommy took me into her room alone and gave me a million hugs. She said she was so happy that I was learning to see how others feel—and that I make Josiah feel important. I think she’ll probably tell Daddy, and he’ll say, “Jonathan, Mommy told me a good report about you!” I love it when he says that—he always has a big smile on his face and tears in his eyes when he does.”*

One of the most important things to consider when developing chore schedules—whether they are for you, a teen, and Dad or a houseful of elementary kids and Mom—is to create a schedule that works for your family. If you get a book (like Sidetracked Home Executives) or go on a website (like Flylady) or even see the list I will be posting of our family’s chore schedule and try to do it exactly as someone else has done it, it will likely not work for your family. Sure, you will want to get ideas from others, but ultimately, it has to be a routine, schedule, list, etc. that works for your situation.

However, I am a teacher—and teachers must teach. So I will give you a list of tips today concerning setting up a chore schedule (more on who should do which jobs later) that I have found to help me throughout the twenty-seven years of parenting/chore-leading!

1. If you are having trouble getting around to daily work on a regular basis, just focus on daily work at first when developing your chore schedule. Do not try to do grandiose tasks if you do not do the dailies. You will be much happier and more at peace everyday if the daily tasks are done than you would be if you cleaned a closet every day but had dishes stacked all over the kitchen.

2. Attach chores to something that is already in your schedule. I discussed this at length in the Bible training/heart training posts earlier in this year. If something is important, attach it to something that you already do in order to be sure it gets done. For us, this meant attaching chores to meals. Since our kids eat all of their meals at home (generally speaking), we attached a chore session just before each meal. (Again, we have used various chore schedules, but this is the one I like the best---work before you eat!)

3. However you divide up the chore day (i.e. one big chore time or several smaller ones), be sure to put the “must do’s” in the slot that gets done the most often; the “want to’s” in the slot that gets done most of the time; and the “dream about’s” in the slot that you seldom get to or might not get to daily. For us, this meant that we put the most important tasks in the first chore session, the medium-importance items in the second chore session, and the least important jobs in the last chore session. (This is with the “15-30 minute chore session before each meal” schedule.) Often, we run students to music lessons, to research at the library, etc. later in the day. By organizing chores by order of importance, we ensure that those items that cannot be skipped are done regardless. (For example, the first slot always has a load of laundry, dishes, breakfast making, daily bathroom cleaning, evening meal preps (or at least thought about), and dog care. That way, even if we never get to before-lunch chores, we have those essentials done that day.)

4. Remember, if you are training preschoolers to do chores, consistency is the key. They will do much better if every morning for a couple of weeks or a month Johnny unloads the dishes and sets the table; Suzie folds a load of laundry and gathers all the trash; Mikey feeds the animals and helps with breakfast. If they do the same things day in and day out, these tasks will become theirs—and they will always know what is expected of them.

Getting closer to putting all of this info together—I promise! Tomorrow and the following day, I will share our current chore schedule. Then we will discuss age appropriateness of various tasks. Thanks for joining us—and for telling others about Positive Parenting 3*6*5!

*For the complete story of “Jonathan’s Journal, follow this link:


  1. This is what I'm needing at this moment. I have allowed myself to be a not so good model to my children when it comes to keeping a home. It's gone on long enough and I must change so that my children will also.

    Thank you and I'm diving in right now! :)

  2. That is so exciting! I am so happy for you. One thing we have to remember in parenting is that our children will likely not be anything that we are not (in terms of character). If we want our children to be kind, we must become kind. If we want our children to be diligent, we must be diligent....and it starts right here! Kela--it is so worth it. Don't give up!!! Baby steps...daily work, diligence, doing the next right thing...nothing big, just the little daily things add up to peace and contentment.