It has been close to impossible to keep our Brooklyn apartment tidy with 4 boys running around and making messes faster than I can describe. It’s borderline impressive. Since Winter is Coming (any GoT fans out there?), we’re going to be spending more time inside. I’m dreading the extra mess that will descend upon our house as they play with trains, color and do puzzle after puzzle.
To combat that a bit, I decided to be proactive and put together 3 chore charts in hopes it will alleviate some of the clutter and chaos. I’ve made one for the littles, one for the bigs and one for the adults.
Determine what chores should be shared
Here are a few things that everyone (2 year old included) is responsible for:
- Putting toys away
- Put books on bookshelf
- Cleaning up spills
- Put dirty clothes in washer
- Put shoes/coats away
These things mostly get done without us having to pester or nag. Of course, there are days when I want to pull my hair out because of the amount of times that I repeat the phrase, “Toys AWAY, please!” (I often follow that line with, “Can anyone hear me!?”). If it’s easy for you to get your young kids to clean up after themselves, you’re dreamin’.
Choose age-appropriate chores for your youngest children
Our littles are now 3.5 and 2 years old and despite what they may think, they’re fully capable of cleaning up after themselves. They may try to lead me to believe they’re not, but really they aren’t fooling anyone. Here are a few of the things we know they can do.
It might take some coercing to get them to follow through with some of these things — mostly the 3.5 year old — but at the end of the day they’re pretty thrilled after the task is accomplished. I think it gives them a sense of responsibility they actually crave. Their chore chart includes things such as:
- Putting pillows on couch
- Wiping down the table
- Helping to put away groceries (they especially love stacking boxes and cans)
- Putting (plastic) cups and plates in sink
- Using dustpan and brush (with help)
Give bigger kids bigger responsibilities
The bigs are 5 and 7, so most of the chores that are on their list are things that the little guys can’t do. Some of it literally comes down to development — the bigger kids have fine and gross motor skills the little ones have yet to master.
The big boys’ list includes things more essential things for our daily life. A family of 6 can make a big mess in little to no time, so having the big boys help in a way that actually lessens our own load — even slightly — is a big deal. The things that are on their list are not limited to, but include:
- Taking out garbage/recycling
- Making beds
- Sorting/putting away laundry
- Wiping down bathroom sink/toilet
- Getting snacks for all
- Bringing groceries inside
Don’t forget the chore chart for adults
Now, who here knows that sometimes the adults actually need the biggest kick in the pants to do the things that we need to do around the house? To be clear, by we I don’t mean my husband. He’s actually more disciplined (read: selfless) about doing things around the house than I am. I’m mainly talking about myself. So, the new solution to this old problem is to create a cleaning schedule for myself too — not just the boys. The things that we (really, I…) need to get better at are:
- Clearing kitchen island
- Declutter (and no, it’s not an accident this is on my list 3 times!)
Now, some of these things need to happen on the daily or even multiple times a day. Others need to happen consistently, but not necessarily every single day. They just need to be on the radar. For example, we have 3 or 4 areas in our living area that collect clutter. They’re a vortex, a dumping ground for junk mail, pens, receipts, wrappers, change — all the annoying things in life. I’m hoping that if I declutter ONE of those areas daily, it will be an easy 5 minute task I can quickly accomplish. Sidenote: if it really only takes 5 minutes, why haven’t I done it more often?
Chore charts help families set realistic goals
This definitely isn’t a comprehensive list, but you get the picture. If you have realistic goals for your kids (and yourself), I believe you can stick to it and succeed. I also totally believe there will be seasons when we’re way better at this than others. I think when we fall off the wagon, it’s easy to throw in the towel and give up entirely. (Is that just me??) I think the key is recognizing if something isn’t working, restructure it a bit. Try something slightly different.
For the kids, maybe it’s something as simple as wearing costumes or putting on special music while they clean. I think finding something that the kids (and ourselves) love and incorporating it as much as possible into everyday tasks or chores is a recipe for success. So next time you walk in on me while I’m cleaning, I’ll either have Friends on in the background or be blasting some Ed Sheeran, because I’m a grown up and I can do whatever I want. Except leave the house a mess.
Do your kids have a chore chart or chore list?
Rhianon Hoffman contributed this post. Rhianon is a mom of four young boys; Hudson (7), Wyatt (5), Amos (3), and Brooks (19 months). She loves to honestly share about the challenges of raising small children, funny observations, daily unfortunate mishaps, and creative ways to engage with your kids. She loves being as authentic and transparent as possible, and hopes to create an encouraging space in which readers can reflect and reimagine their identity as parents. Rhianon and her husband Seth live in Brooklyn, NY with their little dudes.
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