Charting Our Chores

Dan went with me to my spin class this morning. I tend to call it a “spinning class” but have come to realize that sounds like we’re making yarn or turning straw into gold when actually what we do is pedal a bike that doesn’t go anywhere while wiping sweat from our brows, moaning and congratulating ourselves on our growing awesomeness. I don’t think he particularly enjoyed himself but now he knows a bit more about what I’m doing and he called me an athlete at least 3 times so it was a good morning. The best 5am date we’ve ever had.

The house is still clean following a mad rush of cleanliness that preceded my hosting a PTA board meeting. I love the clean but am a bit sick of listening to my own nagging voice . (more on my struggle not to become a Spotless Wench at

For the most part I don’t nag too loudly but the tone of nagging is almost as obnoxious as the tone of whining. So I’m going to try and change to a tone of gentle reminder and rely more heavily on the new chore chart.
I stole the card idea from Jessica and modified it to suit my style (or lack thereof) and the materials I already had on hand. For some reason I have an insane amount of denim in stock out in my garage. Oooo. Maybe I shouldn’t have let that slip. I don’t want to attract every strung-out denim junkie in town, low on their supply and jonesin’ for some jean fabric.

So I tried to make the cards look as much like my house as possible and Laylee was super impressed. Just because I DON’T color 24/7 doesn’t mean I CAN’T. I’m a woman of many hidden talents and also hidden markers that all still have their lids.
On days when I have specific chores I need the kids to do, I assign them but on more flexible days I let them assign their own. I find that they actually do more work and do it more cheerfully if they feel like they’re in control of what they’re doing. I like to give them the illusion of control as much as I can.

The denim pockets are tied onto an IKEA white board which I then screwed into the wall.
When the kids finish one of their chores, they flip the card over and when they’re all flipped over, they turn over the card with their name on it. The back says “ALL DONE” indicating that they are more than partially done. Kind of like “ALL NEW” episodes on NBC which are created without reusing any footage from previous episodes. Not even a bit. ALL NEW.

They vacuum with a mini stick vac or carpet sweeper. They wipe the dirt around, rather than actually cleaning anything. They “do laundry” by helping me sort the clothes and move piles from one spot to another. They feel very useful and they’re learning.

I find that they take my pictures very seriously. Magoo will now only pray like this.
And insists that everyone else follow suit and do it LIKE THE PICTURE! I was hesitant to make prayer a chore in the first place but decided it might be helpful to give them a little reminder. When I went to draw the hands, I found that intertwining fingers were beyond my capabilities. Now for Magoo it’s flat hands or he will have none of it.

I know he’s begun doing his chores when I hear him in the living room shouting up to the heavens, “I yank thee for my bed and my big ducks and my friend River and my sister!”

I’ll be saying a special prayer of “yanks” when we get to a point where their cleaning actually helps make my life easier. It can’t be long now.

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28 Responses to Charting Our Chores

  1. This is awesome, DYM! I’m so impressed. I’m a chart-making nazi and we have charts for everything (house rules, bedtime routines, you name it). Your whole chore package is so cute. I took pictures of my kids doing their chores, laminated them and hung them on a poster for each of them– one side says TO DO and the other says DONE, so they just move them over as they complete them. It’s fun and easy, and if I happen to be consistent about maintaining it/reminding them, they’re consistent about doing it.
    That prayer interpretation is classic, by the way. 🙂

  2. KayLynn says:

    Oh for the love of the cuteness of Magoo!

  3. That chore chart is the cutest! I may have to create one of my own.

  4. Rebecca says:

    Definition of awesomeness. You go girl! (Ya suuuuuuure you can’t hook me up with some denim fabric? …..)

  5. Fantastic idea! I may have to implement that in my house.

  6. I am also impressed with your cards! My daughters are 6, 4, and 1.5. While the 1.5 year old is very helpful with providing us messes to clean up, my older two are surprisingly helpful with cleaning up. I can’t believe what a difference it makes for them to put their dishes in the dishwasher after meals, make their own beds, and put their dirty clothes in the laundry room. I think your cards will definitely help them, help you, and soon!

  7. jennifer says:

    I love this idea. Where were you 10 years ago ? 🙂

    I think I am going to try it with some variation on those adorable teenagers of mine anyway 🙂

    This house has not had a good old fashioned job chart in quite a while.

  8. jen says:

    I LOVE THIS! Seriously.

    I mean, my kid will love this!

    (I’m not tempted to make myself one, I’m not. OK, I am. 🙂

    As for my biggest munchkin, do you think just turning three is too young to start this?

  9. Andrea says:

    Love it.
    We can all dream that one day our kids will actually help clean rather than make messes. Isn’t that why we have kids. haha.

  10. Ali Kat says:

    I think that helping kids understand what they need to do with pictoral schedules and tasks is the best way to do it. I have found it works really, really well with special needs children and adults to. One of my clients solved a lot of unwanted behavioral problems just by switching to the pictoral system. It’s pretty amazing. Now if only I could get my cat to pay attention to something like that. A girl can dream.

  11. jsprik says:

    what a great idea, i may have to “steal” this one **puts it in her pocket** maybe it will get my daughter more enthused. i have doubts, but you never know!! btw..i have a new’s my very own…stop by sometime!! hugs and prayers…

  12. DaddyD says:

    Love the idea. I wish I had an artistic bone in my body to copy it. We bought a chart at the Land of Nod that worked well. Every time our son did *all* of the things on the chart in a 2-day period (it included non-chores like brushing or getting dressed by self) he would get a sticker on his sticker chart. After 7 or 10 stickers, he would get a ‘prize’ like a matchbox car. This reminds me we need to get back to it! Thanks.

  13. Shalee says:

    As a note of encouragement, they do get better at helping, especially the older ones. The younger ones take longer because they know that the big sister will come and sigh over their not doing it right and eventually “help” them, but the cleaning gets done well enough that you don’t have to go back in and redo it.

    It’s a very good thing.

  14. Janel says:

    I love the praying hands! And that L is impressed that you CAN color. And the great job chart. Also the very cute fireplace.

  15. Sue says:

    Great idea. And thats a whole lot of drawings on those cards. You’ve got talent! No wonder Laylee was impressed. I am too.
    Hope it would work in my home too. If only the chores can be set in the names of hubby and the 5 month old, giving me a day off.

  16. I am in awe of your drawing skillz. And I have a question: do you actually live in a place where you get milk delivered? Wow! I’m jealous!

  17. Oh my goodness, if only I could sew and draw!

  18. Wendy says:

    You can hire yourself out to make more of these chart pocket deals, woman! That is gorgeous!

    And does Dan have a row?? (she asks wondering if her own husband could be roped in by the beauty of the pocket chart….)

  19. Becky says:

    It really is called “spinning,” funnily enough – it’s the ‘brand name’ for the first people who came up with the idea. If your gym doesn’t use the brand name equipment and instructors, they may call it ‘cycling.” I just love those classes though – it’s so hard for me to last the whole hour! You can go to for more info. 🙂

  20. Michelle says:

    Love it.

    Would you consider, pretty please, making those denim pocket holder thingies and selling them on your Etsy site? I would totally buy one….

    • I’ve thought about it. And I could have people send me pictures of their house and I could do the little cartoon drawings to match their stuff. How fun would that be?

      If you’re interested, email me in the new year and we’ll see if we can work something out.

  21. Sara says:

    I am SO making one of these things….you m’am are a freakin’ GENIUS!!! I LOVE LOVE LOVE this idea. My hubby (God love him!!!) tried to make something along these line but just couldn’t figure out how to make it work (his drawings were so CUTE though *umph* I mean they were very….uh….MANLY… and TOUGH 😉 I think now that your brilliant mind has come up with the pocket idea that we may be able to create something I’m stoked!

    Thanks for writing, I love reading!

  22. Katie says:

    i love this! i’m super impressed! Will you make one for me? ok – will you let me get a closer look at your so I can make one? we’ve tried so many different versions that haven’t worked and I really like this one and think it *may* work! (at least I hope it would after spending all that time to make one!

  23. love it! adorable pictures! our chore chart is a little table I made in Word. My kids would love getting to choose their chores–but they also might fight over them.

    Sometimes I write jobs on sticky notes and put them on the fridge and tell everyone to choose 2

  24. Eve says:

    awww! I love Magoo’s prayers. My heart is melting…

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