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A Unique Chore Chart

By Lara DeHaven

I know that housekeeping and yard maintenance is not a problem unique to homesteaders.  Most people I know try hard to juggle all of their responsibilities.  Living on a homestead means more responsibilities; therefore, there are more responsibilities to juggle.

Some days I drop the ball, so to speak.  The house gets neglected or the laundry piles up into an intimidating mound.  The weeds in the garden and flower bed are thriving.  You have no clean bowls or spoons because they are all piled up in the sink waiting to be washed.  Please tell me that I am not the only one.

With a large family, there are more hands to do the work.  I have heard some say, “More hands make smaller work.”  Well, that is true; however, more people make a bigger mess.  Laundry in and of itself can easily get out of control with a large family.

I have tried the traditional chore chart.  I have assigned everyone jobs that I believed that they could handle.  If they struggled with a particular job, then I made sure that I took the time and trained them to complete the task successfully.

The kids would inevitably complain that they were assigned a particular chore.  “Why doesn’t Kyla have to do this? Why did you give me this job? You know I hate doing dishes.”  I hated the complaining and would decide to give more work to the one that complained, but that grew tiresome to me.

For a while I did not assign daily chores except for feeding the animals.  Instead I would tell each child what to do that day depending on what was a pressing need.  One day it might be deep cleaning the downstairs or cleaning out the chicken coop and rabbit hutch.  Or, it could be mulching the garden.

This worked semi-well, but I noticed that the ordinary tasks that need daily attention suffered.  I found that I was working way too hard and doing the bulk of the chores.  Once the big chore of the day was completed, the kids would run off to ride horses, read, or ride their bikes.  I was home with the two small ones trying to stay afloat with the housework.

I have been reading all the Thomas Jefferson Education books.  In it one mom says something to the affect, “If you (the mom) are still doing all the work, then you have not given yourself the promotion you deserve.”

I had trained my children to know how to do all the tasks required to keep a house running.  They can do laundry, mop, scrub toilets, cook, tidy, etc.  I immediately sought a way to accomplish the needs of our household in as pleasant a way as possible.  I thought choice and variety of tasks were critical to the success of my chore chart.

First, I wrote down the duties that must be performed daily.  They are: cleaning the living room, dining room, kitchen, and the guest bathroom/stairs/foyer.  I grouped the latter rooms together for fairness.  I wrote these tasks on lime green index cards.

Then I lumped tasks like: do three loads of laundry, cook dinner, tidy up our acre yard, prepare lunch and clean up, and take out the trash and/or burn paper products in the burn barrel.  I wrote these tasks on hot pink index cards.

On bright orange index cards, I wrote the names of the following tasks: clean the upstairs bathroom and hall, weed and/or harvest the garden, clean the front porch and driveway, clean the family vehicle, and do the dishes (all day).

One four white index cards, I wrote “tidy your bedroom” on each card.

For Isaac, who is just wanting and really able to be assigned a chore, I came up with three tasks just for him.  He can tidy his bedroom, feed the cats, and help out around the house.  Isaac gladly helps two people complete their chore.  My intention is for him to be helpful, but also learn in the process.  I wrote his chores on yellow index cards.

I made a manilla file folder into our chore chart.  I made two pockets out of construction paper for each person, including myself.  Then I made a bigger pocket to hold all the index cards.  I wrote each person’s name on his/her pocket.

Each day we have to choose one pink card, one green card, one orange card, and one white card.  Isaac gets his three yellow cards.  There are more cards than needed; therefore, the last person still gets a choice.

Choice seems to play a big role in the success of this chart.  My children are not complaining about the chores.  They chose them after all.

Kyla came up with the idea to chose the chores as soon as you get up, which surprised me since she is usually the last to rise from bed.  Not anymore!  Now everyone is up early and at work.  I have been the last to choose the last five mornings and I get up at 6:45.

The chores become easier as the days go by because it is more maintenance than work.  My house is running smoothly.  I am much happier.  Now I have a little time to read, exercise, etc.  I absolutely love my unique chore chart.

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10 Responses to “A Unique Chore Chart”

  1. aj

    i luv this. my kids cannot read yet, but i am going to buy some different colored cards anyway…maybe i will get some images from google images.

  2. Audrey Thiesen

    What a fantastic solution to the chore dilemma! I can’t wait to try this with my children…although it will be a little while. My oldest is almost four and my youngest is only seven months. However, there’s no reason a four-year-old can’t help with simple tasks! Thanks for the great idea!

  3. Lara DeHaven

    On Isaac’s chore cards, I drew pictures. So for feed the cats, there is a picture of a kitty cat. He really likes finding the appropriate card for each task.

  4. Lara DeHaven

    Thanks. You are right. There is no reason that a four-year-old cannot help out around the house. Isaac is three. I drew pictures on his chore cards so that he better understands what he is supposed to do.

    Work with the young ones training them to do the job right. When you are satisfied that they know what to do, step back and let them prove themselves. Eventually, you won’t have to supervise them completing their chore at all.

    What I am learning with my older children is that they are easily able to take a younger child under their wing and show them the ropes. This is one of the reasons that I have “help out” as a chore for Isaac. It is a win-win for all involved.

    Again thanks,

  5. I love this idea and I’m going to start this at the Sweeney house as well. I know that giving kids choices makes a huge difference in their attitude. They think they are in charge and are happy, but we also get what we wanted as well. Right now the kids have their “Morning Routine”, but it is basic stuff and starting to get old. For example, get dressed, eat, brush teeth, tidy bathroom and bedroom, and do a household chore. Then be ready for school by 9. They are ready for a change and this is just the one we need.


  6. Lara,
    I really found this post valuable! Would you consider submitting it to the Carnival of Homeschooling? I am hosting it next weekend and would love to include your post!

  7. Lomar

    I did this years ago when the children were young, they liked it because as the cards went down the chores were almost done. I would include extra treat cards for when they were being especially good. I got the idea from a book by Pam Young and Peggy Jones’ called ‘The Sidetracked Home Executives’, is a great book for getting organized. And I still use their system.

  8. Katie mom of 12

    I just google search “large family laundry chart’ and found your blog. This is a great method to do chores, iam making it right now for my kids, I will have the six older ones buddy up with the six little ones and do jobs together. Thanks for sharing.

  9. I was just finishing up making some colored index card chore cards when I Googled “how to make a manilla folder chore chart” or something similar. Great minds think alike! haha I love the color coded system you are using so I’ve adopted it and rewrote our chores based on it (my system involved pretty cards – yours involves a meaning for each color which I like better!). Anyway, which TJ book did you read the above quote in (about mom deserving a promotion)? I love it! And, I would add that kids also deserve a “promotion” when they have mastered a new skill….not just mom benefits!

  10. Lara DeHaven

    I wish I could answer your question, but I have loaned out my three TJed books; therefore, I cannot tell you which one included the promotion. Sorry.


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