The Chore Philosophy

I am a sucker for the internet chore charts. For years I have collected them, saved them, and admired them from afar. Now, the actual implementation of a chore chart has been pretty much non-existent. The result has been a house that does not bring yours truly peace or joy. In fact, it tends to make me frazzled and grumpy.


Earlier in December Lizard and I took a car trip alone and had a chance to talk about our goals for the year. We have been horribly lacking in goal setting for quite some time! My goal this year is cleanliness. I have a tendency to feel overwhelmed and unloved when I don’t see other people helping keep our house up or when there’s a huge pile of laundry on our sofa. And honestly, I am not physically capable of even attempting to try to do it all myself anymore. There is unnecessary discord in our house over this topic, especially now that our kids have all gotten old enough to be part of the solution instead of the problem.


I’m not sure exactly how I missed the boat on creating an “all hands on deck” work ethic in our home prior to this but I suspect a LOT of it had to do with me having a… ahem… very particular way I believe things should be done.



I have also struggled because I didn’t know if we should tie the chores in to an allowance system. For the time being we’ve laid that monkey to rest. I saw this meme on facebook and it settled my mind:



The internet is a magical place.


So, as a method of survival and turning over a new leaf (one where I’m not quite so much of a control and emphasize done over perfect), this afternoon I introduced the new chore chart. Along one side of the chart I have every day of the month. On the top I placed the chores that will be done on a daily basis: dishes, laundry, front bathroom, back bathroom, feeding & watering, sweeping, breakfast, lunch, set table. On the grid in between we have the names of the four kids in rotation.


To be honest, I look at this grid and can only see a multiplication table and my 7th grade math teacher who wore copious amount of blue eye shadow. It doesn’t fill me with joy. However, the implementation of this system might very well have a significant impact on my mental health.


It turns out people have actually studied the impact of chores for kids. “Research from a well-known 75-year Harvard study examined the childhood psychosocial variables and biological processes that predicted health and well-being later in life. Researchers concluded that kids who had chores fared better later in life. Chores were the best predictor of which kids were more likely to become happy, healthy, independent adults.”


I’m sold on the benefits of doing chores and ready to implement this in our house. I also really like to have kitchy little phrases for getting things done. Here are some we’ve already used and others that will start making the rounds in our home:


Benefit / Phrase

Buy in that personal actions have impact / “When everybody helps, everybody wins.”

I am convinced that when the kids start having to do their own laundry they will become more choosy about how they take care of their clothing. There are few things more infuriating than seeing clean, freshly folded clothing in a heap on the bedroom floor. I may or may not have blown my top over that one a time or two.


Developing responsibility and sense of accomplishment. /”Many hands make light work.”

When I don’t let my kids help around the house I am implicitly communicating a lack of trust in their abilities. This is absolutely counter to what I want to intentionally develop in them. Managing my control issues will have a direct impact on developing future, capable leaders.


Teaching life skills /  “A stitch in time saves nine.”

For example, by having the kids cook meals and clean up after themselves they will start seeing the way you can save time and effort later. They will get practical experience for working smarter, not harder.


Developing teamwork / “See the Need, Take the Lead.”

One of our parenting goals is to develop an awareness in our children of the world around them. We want to be a family who looks around for opportunities to serve others. This is important in our home as well as our community. And if we don’t actively train our eyes to see we will end up being cluelessly selfish.


Build a Strong Work Ethic / “Half Done is Not Done At All.”

As I’ve been typing this post a child who shall remain nameless has been working on the back bathroom. They did clean the countertop and scrub the toilet… but they neglected to clean up the dirty clothes on the bathroom floor by putting them in the hamper. Nope. Not gonna fly. A job only partially completed is still not done. Our hope is that by instilling a desire and satisfaction in completion, we will see more jobs finished and have fewer struggles with lack of follow through.


I’d love to hear from you – do you implement chores in your house? What system do you use? What tasks? Do you have any catchy phrases for us to add to our repertoire?!

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