I am sure there are some moms out there who are weeping into their White Claws over summer’s end. I, for one, am not one of them. The end of summer feels a little like the 38th week of a twin pregnancy for me. Get ’em out already; out of my house and back into the classroom. I’m done with the lack of order and the ’round the clock party–I’m even starting to get sick of the sound of my own voice.
“Brush your teeth. Clean your room. Honestly, just do something that contributes in some way to your own personal hygiene or the state of our family home without me telling you 900 times.”
These kids need structure and they know it. What they don’t know is they also need far more responsibility than we give them. Besides, the more they do, the less we need to be concerned with doing ourselves. More time for other things like, I don’t know…making moments (a.k.a. finding hygge).
I was introduced to a chore chart and expectation strategy that I have implemented in my own home and it works like a charm. This strategy empowers through expectations and responsibility. As a result, it leaves the kids feeling a sense of accomplishment and productivity. I wasn’t breaking my back to do it all and the kids make a couple of bucks that they actually earn. Besides, what better time to implement some chores and expectations than at the beginning of a school year?
The good news is, you don’t need much to get this chore chart going. You can find everything you need on Amazon, the Dollar Store or your house. Make it fun and let your kids pick their stickers and calendar. Hang the calendar and clipboard of expectations in the kitchen or somewhere central. As your child completes expectations and their stickers accumulate on their calendar, the sense of accomplishment they will feel will be palpable.
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This is what you need:
- (1) Calendar per child
- Pack of small stickers
- Clip board
- Dry Erase Marker
- Make your bed
- Put dirty clothes where they belong
- Get dressed
- Brush your teeth
- Brush and fix your hair
- Prepare your schoolbag – homework, books, lunch and water bottle
- Clear your breakfast
- Turn off your bedroom light
- Do your three P’s – Pushups, pullups and planks
Afternoon Expectations (Immediately upon arrival from school)*
- Throw out leftover lunch & rinse lunch box
- Put containers in the sink/dishwasher
- Put lunch container, schoolbag and hook on the coat hook
- Go through your folder and show mom/dad papers
- Do your homework
*I put a time limit on this expectation. If afternoon expectations are not done by 4:30 they don’t get a sticker. Like all rules, there are exceptions. This stipulation will help to get them in the habit of putting things right where they belong as soon as they walk in the door.
- Take a shower
- Hang your towel
- Put your dirty clothes where they belong
- Brush and floss your teeth
- Lay out clothes for the next morning
- Make your lunch
- Set your alarm
- Charge your phone/watch
- Read for 20 minutes
How it works
Each child is responsible for completing all of the tasks within each of the daily expectations. (Morning, after school and evening) Each complete section is worth $0.50, with a potential to earn $1.50/day or $7.50/week. After each section is fully complete, the child can place a sticker on the current day. Ideally, the kids should have three stickers on each weekday. At the end of the week, the child totals up their earnings and mom and dad pay up.
The great thing about this process is that all is not lost if someone doesn’t make their bed or brush their teeth. It just means that they will not receive a sticker for that set of expectations and will also not be compensated for it. It is what I love most about this strategy. There are so many lessons.
- You don’t earn a dollar if the job is not done. Just like real life!
- The kids have to add up their earnings! Math is everywhere!
- The onus is on the kid. It is never too late to instill this in our children.
- They have more appreciation for the lunch they made rather than the one their parent made.
What I learned
Holy cow! Our kids are so much more capable and independent than we realize. Who knew my son could fix his own hair? I had no idea my daughter would love to make her lunch as much as she does. No one told me that if I implemented a little structure with some monetary compensation I would never have to double-check school bags again to remind the kids to be sure they remembered their lunch.
We do it all to make our lives easier, but the fact of the matter is we are doing our kids a disservice by not laying down some realistic expectations. They are absolutely capable and they want to do things for themselves.
Good luck on your parenting journey.