How Our Chores Work, with Pickles and Praise

8.21.09

People often ask about our chore chart. It isn't easy to manage a home with as many kids as we have and keep it in order. But our chore chart helps us give everyone order and guidance.

Everyone in our home has a jurisdiction, or an area where they take responsibility. The chores are obviously age-appropriate. The little guys can still help pick up toys, or clean off a table. They can still contribute to the family, and they do!

I've found the biggest motivator is praise. They love to know that they are helping, especially the little kids. The smaller kids see the older kids getting rewards or being praised and they want to follow. We cheer them on, and tell them how much they are helping. When children receive that kind of praise, they begin to realize the benefits of teamwork. They start to see: "hey, I'm really needed here!" They see the value in their chores and how much the family benefits from their actions.

My little guys have a chore pack: they have five chores in the morning, five in the afternoon, and five in the evening. It can be as simple as putting away toys, brushing their teeth, straightening up their bed, or helping one of the older siblings with their work. They just keep that chore pack on their belts or in their pockets, and it helps them see what they need to do.

It's really cute to see how the older ones help the younger ones, and how the younger children look up to their older siblings. They want to do chores, because their older siblings do. They yearn for the responsibility that the older children have.

At the end of the day, they turn in their chore pack to either myself, or their older buddy, and we mark it on the chart. They get a sticker, and in the end, those stickers become rewards. These days, they all want a little money. They want the dollar to go into the piggy bank. But they need to accomplish a lot of tasks to earn that money, and it's got to be over so many days.

My little guys will get a $1 book or another prize. The thing they love: A small jar of dill pickles! Crazy, right? We're pickle eaters, and it's cute to be able to give them something they love, that isn't candy.

Now, our older children are looking for bonuses. If they go above and beyond, we'll reward that. If they offer to clean the van or mop the garage, we'll give them a few dollars or something to show them the value of hard work and acknowledge their initiative. It's a little extra bonus, and it's a help to both Dad and I.

Watch how Justin gets the chores done in his jurisdiction!

Photo: Scott Enlow

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