Even though I feel that Christmas just occurred, Mother Nature is revealing that spring is nearly here. Birds, bees and pollen are already settling in around my neighborhood. To prepare myself for the new season, I decided my family needed a spring clean makeover. Our home has been chaotic and cluttered since the holidays. My kids have become more relaxed about their responsibilities. The kind attitude toward siblings and parents has wavered. I’m ready to change that! My coworker suggested I create a task chart for each of my children. Her idea was to have both a responsibility and reward system in place to help renew and motivate my family into healthier, happier behaviors. Guess what? I tried it and the method is working! This is how I implemented the arrangement.
Start the conversation: One Saturday morning during breakfast, I began a conversation with my kids about how I want and need their help around the home. I explained that when we each do our part, we can enjoy more time together. Too often we let household tasks go, become lazy and then spend a binge day trying to catch up on chores in a hurry. This can cause tension and stress among our family. Yet when we all help out consistently, we can schedule more family fun. To my delight, my children did not resist the idea of doing a responsibility chart. I asked each child to help me come brainstorm a list of duties and also rewards we can consider when everyone cooperates.
Create the chart or plan: Give your kids input to developing a chart or other plan that will keep them accountable. My kids knew what responsibilities they should be doing. They even offered up more ideas than I originally thought.
My nine year old offered up suggestions like:
Put clothes away.
Practice her musical instrument.
Feed and help out with our dog.
Put away dishes and trash after meal times.
Complete school papers and homework.
Do not repeat the same questions after answers were already given. (Ha! I love that one!)
Put away toys, clothes and shoes in their right places.
My four year old offered up ideas such as:
Brush teeth and hair without parents reminding.
Help pack school snacks.
Set the table before dinner.
Practice good manners (please and thank you).
Do not push, shove or hit each other.
Do not cry or whine, unless there is a good reason.
Be a better listener.
Wow, I loved all of their submissions. Then I asked them how we can reward good behavior for following the duties on the chart. Again their responses surprised me in a good way. If they stay on task for these responsibilities, then they want to be occasionally rewarded with the following options:
Visit an ice cream parlor for a treat.
Visit a local park.
Visit a local museum.
Make a trip to the beach.
Visit the library.
Arrange for a play date with a friend.
Make a special dessert at home.
Go out to a restaurant and let the kids choose the place.
Go for a hike or special outdoor adventure.
Visit the dollar store to choose a toy or item.
Again I was pleased with their proposal. Their ideas were reasonable, not outlandish. So I have created the chart and it’s been in place for several weeks.
Stay on Task and Reward with Fun: I typed up our family responsibility chart using an Excel program, but you can hand draw it or type it up using any available tool. Options to make your family’s plan are endless. I also bought affordable, small stickers so each child could mark off their duties with a cute label as they did them each day and week. So far this chart is serving its intended purpose. As my kids stay on task and get along, our family reaps the benefits. We can better manage the daily chores and achieve them with better attitudes. Then during the weekends, our family can enjoy the incentives we put in place. Consider creating a plan or chart that will keep your family on task and bring you closer together.
Mandy B. Fernandez is a writer living in Pensacola, Florida with her husband and two children. She has a B.A. in English with a minor in Technical Writing. She writes on topics such as business, education, creative arts, health, family life, parenting and natural foods. In addition she loves sharing humorous stories, poetry and essays about womanhood and motherhood. Her first children’s book, Kazoo Makes The Team, was just released. Visit her at www.writtenbymandy.com.