Answer the question “how do I get kids to do chores?” with simple ways to work for money, a chart that shows chores by age, ideas for making a reward system, and free printable chore cards.
Because I write a lot on cleaning, I get the question, “how do I get kids to do chores?” more than just about any other.
Friends, I'm in the trenches on that one too. It's not easy. But, I think we have finally found a really solid system in our home that has worked so well for our (almost) 8-year-old and even our 4-year-old. I firmly believe that it's never too early to get your kids involved in household duties – you just have to know what duties are age-appropriate!
What chores can my kids do at their age?
First, let's start with what household chores are fit for certain ages. I shared the above graphic in a post a few years ago, but I think it's worth sharing again. This is a great resource for finding simple household chores for various age groups.
From there, I developed a daily chore chart. Kids need guidance, just like adults. My daily checklist comes from Journey to Clean, my cleaning system that thousands of people every year use and love. The chore chart you see above is loosely based on that system – I just really, really simplified it to put it on the level of our 7-year-old daughter, Emmie. (Our 4-year-old doesn't use this just yet; we give him odd jobs here and there, but don't have a ton of structure to his cleaning routine so far. But, I am looking to give him an even more simplified version of this very soon!) We put it in a cheap (dollar store) frame and use a dry-erase marker to check things off each day. (If you want a printable for a similar version of this list, click here for an older post.)
**UPDATED 3/20** I know so many of us are stuck at home right now. My daughter needed an updated version of this chore chart for at-home days recently, so I made a new one – and I thought I'd share it with you guys!
We've used a version of this chore chart for a couple of years now. (I first mentioned it in this post.) Emmie is expected to complete this chore chart daily; I don't really force every single task, but she also knows that she doesn't get an allowance if she doesn't complete it. I want to drive home the fact that you have to work for your money; it isn't automatically given to you.
How does Emmie know which chores to complete?
For the most part, the chores on this list are self-explanatory. They are a good mix of taking care of yourself (which we're slowly phasing out) and taking care of the home. In the next couple of years, I'd like to get her list to just things that contribute to others, no longer rewarding her for taking care of herself. (She's 7 for an age-appropriate reference.) In the next year or two, Jackson will start using at least the simplified version of this chore chart.
The only ones that aren't super clear are “help someone” and “chore of Mommy and Daddy's choice.” The help someone option really just kind of comes up organically; if she does something at school that she thinks fits this, she'll run it by my for approval. If I notice something she does at home, I'll tell her to mark it off. She knows that she can't do something just to get this one marked off; it has to happen out of the goodness of her heart, not because she's trying to get a checkmark!
Chore of Mommy/Daddy's Choice was kind of a tricky one. Since Journey to Clean is divided into Rooms of the Week, I don't always know off the top of my head what my daily tasks are (not to mention what's age-appropriate for her to do). I don't like to give her the same task each day (because, let's be honest – that gets boring very quickly).
As a solution, I cooked up a few daily chore cards she gets to draw from a cup! These are tasks that I typically haven't completed by the time she gets home each day, that need to be done (no matter the week), and that she can complete on her own. This has been a great solution to our chore dilemma; she loves the variety of the chores and the fun of getting to randomly draw one (and I love having one less thing to do every day 😉).
I made both a longer and a more card-like format for these for you guys! You can print them for free by clicking the links below.
Simply cut them out and place in a cup – hope it helps you as much as it has helped our family! And, if you want a more grown-up version of these cleaning cards, I have a brand new Journey to Clean product that was just launched this morning.
You can now get each task in the Journey to Clean Room of the week checklist in card form! I've broken these tasks down into color-coded weekly cards – now, if you're not digging doing the same monotonous list every week, you can simply draw 1-2 cards each day to complete for your room of the week (or, if you really want to shake it up, mix all the cards together and complete every task once a month).
This works the same way as the kids' cards – simply draw a few as you get the time to clean. I recommend doing 1-2 tasks a day, but you can definitely pace it to your schedule – perfect for a more flexible cleaning system. Click here for more info about the Journey to Clean Room of the Week Cleaning Cards.
Now, back to your regularly scheduled program. 😉
So, what is our reward system for completing chores?
Meet Lambert Loot! This started off as kind of a silly way to pay allowance in our home, but has become an absolute staple to our chore/allowance system. (And yes, I pulled the silliest pictures of everyone that I could for these.)
Why don't I use actual money? I tried this at first, but I was really having the hardest time reinforcing the value of a dollar. (The following is totally not meant as complaining – just part of our “why.”) We have very generous grandparents on both sides of the family that love to give the kids cash. It starts becoming difficult to get kids to work for $1 a day when they're getting $20 here and $50 there from grandparents – and I'm not going to deny my kids money that the grandparents give them. So, we use that actual money to save up for special occasions – vacations, events, school sales – making sure they are giving and saving some of that money as well.
I first came up with the idea of Lambert Loot last summer. At the time, I made up a chart of things the kids could buy with this money. Emmie gets 1 Loot for each chore marked off on her list every day, and right now, Jackson gets 1 here and there for completing odd jobs or doing something around the house exceptionally well (he's a little young to get the whole “saving money” thing, but we're starting it with him).
You can't trade Lambert Loot for cash, but if you'd like, you can trade 1 Lambert Loot for 10 cents (that way, if the kids do want to save up to buy something outside of this chart, they can). This has worked amazingly well in our house. It has really taught the kids the value of working and saving, even though they are both really comfortable cash-wise.
Now, the question of “how do I get kids to do chores” doesn't have to be complicated! Use these simple tips to streamline the process and make allowances in your home easy and productive. I'd love to hear some of your tips in the comments below!
See more of my cleaning posts here.