I love to read ideas about chore charts and chore incentives geared for children in the idyllic years before they hit the double digit ages. I long for the days when an adorable chart with cute pictures solved my chore
problemschallenges. (Please don’t misunderstand, I’m not belittling the chore chart. It’s just that the grass is always greener and I would love to make an adorable chart with pretty paper and cute pictures. A chart that would result in excited children admiring my crafty hard work.)
But, sigh, I’m in a different stage of chore
problems challenges with my children. My children are 10 years old, 14 years old and 16 years old (almost 17). They are old enough to remember to do their chores and old enough to understand what is expected (and despite what they might tell you, no, I don’t expect perfection.) They are old enough to be unimpressed by cute chore charts made with love by their Mommy. Sigh.
In the past year,
I’ve heard all the excuses about why chores weren’t done or weren’t done correctly.
“You never told me.” (Is it just me or is the emphasis always on it being my fault?)
“I never knew.” (Read, it’s my fault because Inever told them).
“You must have told (name of sister or brother) .” (Hmm, again, this would be my fault.)
“But I did do it!” (said with indignation) (Well, this one must somehow be my fault, too.)
I tried patiently reminding my wonderful children. I tried explaining why each step of a chore is important. I tried reviewing the chore’s steps again, and again. I tried scolding. I tried punishing (correct term is “giving them consequences for their behavior”) with an additional chore. I was almost ready to give up and just do it myself. But the parent educator in me wouldn’t let me do that.
Finally the last time one of my daughters (who shall remain nameless to protect the guilty) said, “I never knew that. You didn’t tell me I had to do that” when I knew very well that I had told her several times, the light bulb went off. Bing.
No Excuse Chore Cards
I made chore cards for each of the chores that weren’t being done completely or correctly. I used a 3 1/2 by 5 inch piece of paper to write the chores down. I decided to write it by hand rather than print the cards out to personalize it for my children. I want them to remember that this is our family not just some generic requirement. And although I really wanted to use cute paper and pictures, I made the cards simple so my children wouldn’t disregard them because “they’re for little kids.” Need to respect them and their maturity (even though Mommy is still longing to make a cute chore chart).
The children can take the card with them while they do their chore if they want or they can review the card when they’re done with the chore to make sure they hit each of the items that should have been done. It’s up to them how they want to use the chore card. It’s purpose is to help them in whatever way works best for each of them.My daughters and I had been having ongoing problems discussions about what “doing the dishes” actually means. Because this was driving me crazy (said in a whisper so they don’t overhear me), I decided to place this particular chore card right in front of the kitchen sink. This way they can’t say, “I didn’t know.” It makes it easier for me to handle when they don’t do it correctly; all I say is “Did you look at the chore card?” No fussing, no scolding and a happy Mommy.
And you know what they say, “A happy Mommy makes for a happy home.” Or at least that’s what I keep telling my children.
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