Thursday, December 16, 2010

Chore System Idea

I'm sure you've seen the colored index cards in the store when you're school shopping. Heck, I'm sure that a few of you have purchased them instead of the plain white ones. (Let me tell you, studying for a test is MUCH more interesting in technicolor) Have you ever thought to use them to get your kids to do chores?

I know, it's probably an odd thought. Let me tell you about a little system I've used for myself AND used to get teenage family members to help tidy when they stay over.

I use Index Cards. Now, for my system I use the plain ones. What I did was take the cards and write a chore on each one. I shuffle the cards up and place them face down. Then, I grab the first card and flip it over. Whichever chore pops up on top is the one I have to go do and I can't come back until it's finished. It's actually a really effective system when you can't figure out where to start or, as rarely happens here, when your house looks clean but you know better. When my brother-in-law and cousin were visiting several months back we used this as a way to get everyone to clean. We set a time limit (we wouldn't clean more than an hour) and brought out the cards. We only had to clean 30mins (there was 4 of us and a toddler) and the living room, kitchen, and guest bath all got cleaned. It was amazing!

Okay, on to my brainstorm I had while not sleeping at whatever ungodly hour it was this morning...

You'd need to buy a pack (or two, we'll get to that) of the colored index cards. You can get the bright colored ones or the pastel ones. I really don't care either way. (If you have boys that will complain about "girl colors" I do suggest the bright ones, though)

Next, make a list of each chore in the house. Be very specific. Yes, this will probably take a few days as you think of random things. Don't just put "clean the bathroom." Break things down into detailed chores like "scrub the toilet inside and out." Trust me, it will matter for this system. You'll get a chance to be vague in the next steps but you'll still need the specifics.

Now take your list and organize the chores into three categories: High Value, Moderate Value, Low Value. High Value should be things that take longer and/or are hardest to do. I would consider mowing the lawn (with a push mower...not a riding mower, cheater) a High Value chore. "Clean entire bathroom" is a High Value chore. (You'll want a few of these large task chores) Low Value chores take 5mins or less. So, if you don't have a lot of dust collecting surfaces, "Dust" would be a Low Value chore. "Gather laundry" is Low Value (because it shouldn't be on the floor anyway, right?) Everything else is a Moderate Value chore.

Okay, assign each a color and write them on the appropriate card. I'm picky so I'd do "red/orange" for High, "yellow" Moderate, and "green" would be Low. You can do whatever you want.

Ready? We're almost finished! Take the colors and decide on a point value. NOT a monetary value, we'll do that later. Figure out how many points each color is worth. High Value should have a High Number. It can be 1-2-3 for all I care. Got it? Moving on...

What do you do with these? You'll want each child to choose a special container for themselves. Each time they choose a card (and with THIS system they are allowed to sort through the cards until they find what they want to do) they complete the chore AND THE CHORE GETS CHECKED BY A PARENT. Then, they can put the card in their container to get the point. At the end of the day you go by and count the points and write it down in a place that you control (to quell cheating). If it's a chore that gets done daily (like dishes or laundry) put it back in the stack. Otherwise put the card into a different folder so it can't be chosen again (because you can only scrub a toilet so many times during a week!) At the end of each week tally up the points and give out payment. Well, what motivates most kids these days? If you said "satisfaction of a job well done" I'd keep it to myself because you'll get hatemail from several of my readers! (I think that's awesome, though!) If you said, "Money" keep reading. Figure out how much you want to pay them. If you used small numbers for points you can give them a dollar a point. It's totally up to your family.

Gather everyone for a family meeting. Explain how the point system works. (Leave out the payment part) Read off a few examples of the chores. Watch all the kids roll their eyes and start to fidget. Smile and say, "And then at the end of the week we'll give out an allowance." Now you have their attention! Explain how it works.

For this you could even keep a list of who has Top Points for a month and give them a special prize. Maybe a little extra money, cooking the dinner of their choice, or a family activity that they want to do. The possibilities are endless.


  1. LOVE THIS! One additional idea---use the brights cards for things done less often and the corresponding "value" pastel cards for things done Daily (makes sorting easier!)

  2. Kristi: That is a GREAT idea! And it just goes to show that you can always personalize anything! Thanks for sharing.



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