When a Chore Chart Doesn’t Work

Episode 6 – How to make a chore chart work

Today’s question:

I’ve tried chore charts in the past, but I have a hard time keeping up with them.

I let things slide, but then it bothers me that my kids don’t help out more around the house.

My older kid is more cooperative than the younger, so I end up asking him to do more work. He complains about the inequity and he’s totally right.

I get so tired of the negotiating and complaining when I ask my daughter to do a simple little task. My current system is unfair and unhelpful. How can I make a chore chart that sticks?   Melinda

The Parent Education Answer: 

When chore charts have the most success, it’s because it fits with the personality of the parent or of the kid(s).

Some people love the sense of satisfaction they get from checking a box, the pride from displaying their accomplishments, and the predictability of what is expected of them.

If this sounds like you or your kiddo and external validation is something you value, by all means, create a system and commit to it.

Even if it wanes after a month or two, that’s okay. Just create a new one and enjoy the novelty.

Allow the kids to have input on any adjustments to it.

Most parenting experts suggest not tying chores to allowance but instead reinforcing the child’s role in being a responsible member of the household.

If your kids are reluctant, you may need to provide an incentive like no screen time until chores are complete, or a reward once completed.

Sometimes a chore chart can make a kid want to rebel against it.

“Brag boards” are an alternative where your child gets to post and boast about the chores they have completed.

If you like the chore chart but your kid doesn’t, keep it for yourself as a way to stay organized, but find other motivation for your kid that works for them.

The life coaching answer:

What you’ve got here is a classic example of cognitive dissonance.

This means you have two competing beliefs going on at the same time.

Part of you places a strong value with kids helping out with household chores. The other part of you doesn’t want to negotiate and argue every time you want your daughter to empty the dishwasher.

When we are in cognitive dissonance, any system we implement is doomed to fail.

Your kids will sense your lack of conviction, “forget” to do their chore or talk their way out it. The only way to get a chore chart to work is to decide and commit to it.

Before you declare anything out loud, you’ve got to be clear inside yourself.

Right now, when you think about asking your kids to do chores, how do you feel?

My guess is tired, annoyed, burdened, or some other negative emotion. These emotions cause moms to act inconsistently and sabotage their own chore charts.

The first step is to accept things you have no control over. It sounds like your daughter likes to argue and negotiate. This is just part of her personality, so we need to let that go. Kids don’t generally like doing chores, so let’s not pin our hopes on some magic chore chart that will make them eager workers.

The next step is to decide which of your competing values gets top priority.

What is more important to you?

1. To never argue and negotiate with your daughter

2. To distribute the chores to both kids equitably

3. To have your children contribute to household chores

Which one will you be more proud of in the long run?

If you choose #3, you need to commit to this.

Be proud of your choice. Decide that this is more important and that no matter how much push back you get, it’s for a good cause.

If you incorporate a chore chart, do it with joy and determination.

How you feel about your chore chart is more important than anything else.

Decide you are going to love it.

Decide that it doesn’t have to last forever.

Prepare yourself for arguing, but plan ahead of time to just smile and point at the chart.

You will be amazed at how much more energy you have when you aren’t arguing with yourself inside your head.

Supermom Kryptonite: Open Loops

One of the reasons motherhood drains so many of us, is we are never done.

The tasks are circular, and it’s hard to get a sense of accomplishment.

This makes it even more important that we close as many loops as we can.

Having open loops, or things in our head that we need to make decisions on, follow up on, and complete, is exhausting.

To free up your energy, ask yourself every day: “What is weighing on my mind?” or “What am I trying not to think about?”.

Whatever your answer is to these questions, find a way to close the loop on the issue.

If it’s kids and chores, make a decision and stick with it.

If it’s a conversation you’ve been avoiding, have it and resolve it.

The more decisions you make ahead of time, the more energy, creativity and mental clarity you will have.

Supermom Power Boost: Softening

This is counter-intuitive because we think tension gives us power, and it does in a way.

Think of a runner in the starting blocks of a race.

Their body is tense, and ready to explode into action. After the race they relax and their body softens.

The problem with Supermoms, is the race never ends.

This is not a healthy way to live; we need rest and relaxation time.

Since many Supermoms struggle with this, I’ve found a short cut called “softening”.

Think about something that causes you tension, find the tension in your body, and physically soften it.

Eventually we’ll need to get the brain on board, but this is a quick first step.

This will give you energy because it’s more aligned with how our bodies are designed: to spend lots of time in rest and relaxation.

Quote of the Day

“Tension is who you think you should be, relaxation is who you are.” Chinese Proverb

Would you like help with prioritizing your values and creating more rest and relaxation? Sign up for a free discovery call at www.lifecoachingforparents.com/work-with-me

 

 

Making chores fun

Summer is almost here and you are up to your eyeballs with end of the year parties, teacher gifts, field trips and celebrations. You are giving a lot of time and energy to your kids and their activities, let’s reverse that and think about how THEY are going to give back to YOU this summer.

Creating a chore chart that works for you and your kids is easy once you recognize how you get in the way. Check out my last blog to make sure there is no negativity coming from Mom that prevents kids from learning, enjoying, gaining valuable life and leadership skills from doing chores.

Follow these seven steps to delegating effectively and joyfully to your kids.

  1. What’s your WHY? Why do you want to have your kids do chores? To develop life skills? Make less work for you? To contribute to the household? If you sense any negativity, “She should know this by now!” “I’m tired of doing all the work around here!” Hold off and clean up your thinking until you can approach it from a positive place.
  1. What’s THEIR why? Your kids aren’t going to value what you value, so give them a good reason to take this on. Money? Free time? A trip to the water park? Take time to discover your child’s currency. It’s ok to have different rewards for different kids. One might value having a lemonade stand, the other a new toy, another Minecraft. My teenager just negotiated six hours in the house by himself as reward for hard work. Feel free to get creative here, nothing is off limits. Your attention can be earned, too!
  1. Create a Chore Chart. Kids love to clearly see what the expectations are and to track progress to their reward. If you want chores to be a positive thing, creating some sort of a chore chart is a must (there’s a reason every primary classroom is filled with these kinds of things). Go to Pinterest and search “chore chart” to see the wide variety of options, ideas and free downloads. Don’t pick something so cute & elaborate you never get around to it. Start simple and make improvements later.
  1. Start with DAILY chores: You can include ANYTHING on the daily list of to-do’s! From making your bed and brushing teeth, to eating your vegetables, playing outside, and putting on sunscreen. Anything you want to remind and reinforce goes on the daily chart. Have some things that are easy wins, and some that are new habits you want to encourage like “read to your sister” or “drink water” the power you have here is awesome, enjoy it! If you ask for so much your kids attitude turns negative, back off, you want to set this up for success.
  1. Include Extra Chores: What skills would you like them to develop and master? The extra chores are those that will take more time from you in the beginning but less time from you at the end. Cleaning bathrooms, washing windows, doing dishes, laundry, cooking, yard work, these chores will require instruction, supervision, praise and support. Imagine teaching your kids, showing them how to succeed, giving them room to make mistakes, all while maintaining a positive attitude. This is your chance to practice YOUR leadership skills and model for them that learning new things can be fun.
  1. Praise & Consistency! You don’t have to keep this chore chart going all year, or even all month. If your kid’s enthusiasm wanes after 2-3 weeks, just go with it! If you start forgetting, losing interest or feeling negative, end it. This is no place for perfectionism but you do want to be consistent for at least two weeks so everyone feels successful and positive. Praise their efforts and their learning, follow-through with rewards and be proud of them and yourself for the accomplishment.
  1. Don’t miss this important step! So much learning happens in the last step and so many adults skip it. Please take time to sit down with your kids, reflect and evaluate. How did it go? What did you like or not like? Were you surprised by anything? What’s your favorite/least favorite chore and why? You can learn SO MUCH about your child’s essence, who they are meant to be, how they best learn, their future career choice, future major, by asking these really important questions. Be listening for patterns: Do they like working inside or outside? Are they detailed oriented or big picture? Do they like to work by themselves or with others? Do they prefer to jump in and figure things out as they go, or do they prefer lots of instruction and all necessary tools ready before beginning? Do they like to rush through lots of tasks or stick with one and do it to completion?

Ask them what could make it better next time? What would make chores easier or more fun? Start again with a new and improved chore chart and renewed enthusiasm.

Chores can be fun, educational, and inspirational if we allow them to be. Good luck, ENJOY and as it says in my kid’s yearbook, H.A.G.S.