Hello! It's been a while. Recently, we've started chore charts in the Simmons household and I wanted to post about it. We were sort of in a post-holiday slump and the boys were doing hardly anything except drifting from one play-activity to another, with an admittedly daily dose of Netflix thrown in. I listened to a recent Raising Playful Tots episode about simple Monterossi stuff to do at home on the cheap, and though chore charts weren't mentioned, I was inspired to finally follow through on making some charts like I've been talking about for months. (This show regularly inspires me!)

I made my charts with a mix of google image search, Photoshop, and Microsoft Publisher (I loooove doing this sort of thing). I made one for each boy and a really simple one for Lucy (just to get her in the habit and because she loves doing Big People stuff).

I'm pretty pleased with how they came out. :) I printed each one out on a piece of regular white paper and then covered it with contact paper and hung them on a wall in the kitchen. When we finish a chore, we cross it off with a dry erase marker.

So, in practice, how does this work with three-year-olds? I wanted a chart that they could "read" for themselves, even though I'd be helping them with all the jobs. Sam's chart isn't shown, but he has the same selection of jobs but at different times/days, so they're getting to work with me one-on-one for each task. It honestly doesn't take that long, it keeps them busy and involved, and helps me keep up with stuff around the house! I told them when we first hung the chore charts up that they were big enough to help take care of the family and the place where we lived.

We check the chore chart right before or after breakfast, around lunchtime, and right before dinner. Here's a rundown of each picture symbol and what it entails for them:

Dishes - Clear the table after we eat. They gather dishes into a Rubbermaid bin, a lot like a busboy would. They can throw it all in there-- leftover food for the trash, dishes, utensils, cups-- and I'll sort it out in the kitchen. They can carry the bin to the kitchen.

Dishes bin!

I let them do this part pretty much entirely on their own after a few practice runs. Then they can help put away leftover food-- they can snap lids on leftovers containers and put containers in the fridge. Then they can help put away any clean dishes from the drying rack-- they can reach shelves for pots and skillets, clean leftovers containers, their own plates and bowls, metal mixing bowls, and all the non-knife utensils. I supervise, giving them step-by-step instructions. 

Laundry Basket - They can help gather dirty clothes, help put things into the dryer or washer, and put folded clothes away with direction. They don't fold (yet) or measure soap. They love to push the washer and dryer buttons.

Bathroom- This is the "biggest" job for them because it's the first time they've ever handled cleaners. I actually do all the spraying, but it's a big learning curve for them to be in the bathroom with me and the spray bottles and it requires the most supervision. They can wipe off surfaces that I've sprayed, use the scrub brush in the toilet (they love this), put away bath toys, and help clean off the bathroom counter before we wipe it down. 

Books- Picking up and reshelving books is a five-times-a-day way of life here. But the books on the chore chart are specifically for gathering up library books before our library visit and then helping unload new books onto the right shelves or baskets.

Vacuum Cleaner- The boys can each get the vacuum cleaner out of the closet on their own. I usually straighten up or dust the room we're vacuuming beforehand. They like to unwrap the cord and help plug it in. They can push the button to start the vacuum. Then we push it together, with directions from me to "push" or "pull" around the room. They can also mostly direct the hose by themselves for corners and along walls. Then they help wrap the cord up and put the vacuum away.

Picking Up Toys- The boys trade off cleaning up the toys at the end of the day and cleaning up after dinner. I help with the toys, directing them to categories of toys to pick up (baby toys, Duplos, cars, puzzles) based on whatever is out. My help might be for every category if there's a lot or hardly any help if it's just one small group of toys out by that point. We do not at all distinguish between "Sam's toys" and "Theo's toys" or "Lucy's toys" in this house, even though they each have some of their own. If picking up toys is their job, they are responsible for anything out. I want them to grow up expecting to help one another rather than only watching out for their own person and belongings. (Even if I know I'll have to fight that natural tendency anyway...I mean, c'mon, how many times have you moms with older kids heard the whine, "But that's not my [job/toy/dish]"?) 

Lucy's jobs are basically just things she already likes to do. She likes to wipe stuff off (even if it's not very well, heh) and she loves to push the Swiffer around. They all get Sunday off. We started on Wednesday and so far, we haven't missed a day yet. Confession: Last night we caught up on midday and evening chores right before bed, but still. I know we will eventually miss days, but it's the general practice I'm more interested in instilling. Yesterday, actually, lunch stuff was still on the table when dinner was almost ready due to a nap immediately after lunch and a lazy afternoon, and I carried all the dishes  to the kitchen myself. But then when they were distracted, I ended up taking them all back and helping Theo to clean them off. Once we've gotten started (and especially at the beginning of the new habit), I don't want them to start feeling like if Mama doesn't remind them or help them, the job just disappears. 

Anyway, I had a blast making these charts and the boys love checking stuff off and being involved. We've had a bit of feet-dragging when it means leaving toys behind for a bit, but as long as I stay cheerful and explain clearly what they have to do, they usually get into it fairly quickly. The jobs rarely last longer than ten minutes at the most. 

As of right now, the images I've used are not all technically "free" images, so I shouldn't and can't sell the charts, but if anybody is interested in these with some slight modification for the jobs (or just as-is!) let me know and I can whip 'up a few! I can change names, fonts, and pictures (other ideas: beds, pets, outside jobs, etc.). 

Also, considering two upcoming posts: Surviving a grocery store with Littles, and Menu Planning. Any interest?