This is a special blog for all my ADHD mom friends out there–and really for anyone else who feels as though life is just one crazy thing after another, and you’re struggling to get any sort of routine going with your family. If you’ve ever wondered if it was possible to get your family running just a bit more smoothly, especially in regards to household chores, I have a gift for you.
Before we dive into the “how to create a painless and easy to follow family chore chart” bit, I feel I must preface this blog with a little reality check.
Y’all, I am NOT an organized person by nature. I’m more of a “fly by the seat of my pants,” “don’t fence me in” sort of character. And while this can come with some very wonderful care-free, living fully, embrace the crazy aspects to it, it can also lead to quite a bit of chaos at the same time.
Growing up, my room was always a disaster, and I knew nothing about organizing. My favorite way to clean up a room was to stuff things in drawers or on shelves or hide them in the far unseen corners under my bed.
So, I’ll never forget when I had my first taste of organization and clear sense of how peaceful it could be living in a clean and organized environment.
Entering into my senior year at Franciscan University, by a fluke (and by fluke, I really mean, by the grace of God – gotta love those God-winks!) my roommate was switched out last minute and I ended up rooming with someone who would become one of my life-long best friends – Robyn.
I didn’t know Robyn very well at the time, but she was pretty much the exact opposite of me. I was wild and crazy, often blasting my Shania Twain on the radio, leaving a wave of chaos in my wake. She was quiet, often had classical music playing in the background, and compared to me, was very organized.
Moving into our dorm room at the beginning of senior year, I had SO much stuff. I can just imagine what must have been going through Robyn’s mind while she saw me unload box after box into the room. I was struggling to organize all of my stuff, so at one point, she just asked me, “Do you want some help getting everything set up?”
I gratefully accepted, at which point she started sharing with me this new concept of “a place for everything and everything in its place.”
One by one, we went through the boxes, and by the time we were done, she had me hauling half of my things back down to the storage room.
I laugh now because I can just imagine the sigh of relief she must have had knowing that everything might actually fit into the room once all the extras were safely in storage.
I’ll never forget that day, because it was the beginning of my most organized and clean semester at University, and I learned that I really loved living in a clean and organized environment.
Skip 20+ years, add in 6 children and a husband, and keeping the house clean just isn’t that simple. That being said, my love for living in a clean and organized environment that started that day when Robyn introduced me to “a place for everything” hasn’t changed either.
I just can’t function in a messy house. Not. At. ALL.
So now, when the house is messy and gross, I panic inside. And I’m not talking about a lived-in house, that’s totally fine and a part of life with a big family. But with 9 people living here (my Father-In-Law joined us last September) and with me working full time, it can get gross fast. Trash cans overflowing, sink caked with food (add to that the crummy, scummy build-up between the faucet and the wall that hides from the lazy eyes of children who don’t see the details), cabinets dirty, laundry building up, dirt on the floors.
I just can’t. YUCKKKKK!
And I can’t keep it all clean by myself, either. It’s just not possible. I’ve had frustrated moments where I’ve yelled at the kids for whining and complaining about helping and for only doing the bare minimum.
“If you give your life away, it can’t be taken from you” has been heard in my house more times than you can count.
“WHY can’t you just WANT to help?” I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve wondered that one.
It’s easy to get frustrated with them and their seemingly escapist attitude, but then I just have to look back at my own 16-year-old self and realize…they’re WAY more respectful and helpful than I was at that age.
I knew they just needed more direction and some added boundaries. So, amidst the frustration and the dirty house, I finally decided to revamp my chore chart and put an end to all the occasions of “It’s not my turn” and “It’s not fair” and “But…”
The simple truth of it was this… life was crazy. There was no real order. And we were all getting frustrated. Everyone needed rules and boundaries and a clear understanding of expectations to keep focused.
When I first started looking to put a new chore chart together, I did a bunch of Googling, trying to find one that was already made and would only need a few tweaks. Most of the chore charts I found, however, did not meet our needs as a larger family. Many that catered to larger families were too organized for our needs (yes…there’s such a thing as too organized… especially if you have a hefty case of ADHD)–so I created a system that made sense for us.
Several weeks into this new chore chart, I have to say that I’m LOVING it. After years of trying this and that, I believe we’ve finally found something that really works.
The kids are on board.
The house is being cleaned regularly.
And everything is more peaceful.
Because our family chore chart is truly OUR chore chart, I can’t say that it will work perfectly for you. But what I can do is let you see it and share the process I went through to create it, so that you can create a chore chart that makes sense for your family.
It will take a bit of work, but I can promise you, in the end, you won’t regret it!
How to create your family chore chart.
Before we get started on how to piece together your own chore chart, I think it’s important to explain why we set our chart up the way we did.
Our chart is a weekly chore chart. So, every Sunday, the kiddos make sure their chores are done and then hand them off to the next person. The reason we set our chore chart up to be a weekly chore chart is that we TRIED everything else, and nothing worked.
When the chores changed daily, someone was always complaining that someone else didn’t do their chores the day before, and I was left continuously playing referee, judge, and jury. It was so very tiresome, and I was done.
So, we got rid of the daily chore rotation and committed everyone to week-long ones. It’s been a great change and has made a huge difference for everyone involved.
Back to the chore chart. Here are the steps we took to create free printable chore charts that finally work.
1. Make a comprehensive list of all the chores that need to be completed each week.
Mentally go through every room in your house and start writing down the rooms and the chores that go with each area. If the rooms are larger or have more work required for them, then break the rooms up into smaller categories of duties.
An example for our family was:
Dry and put away dishes
Everything else (everything that’s not washing or drying and putting away dishes)
2. Create a table with a column for each child and sort the chores “evenly” per column.
On my chore chart, you will see that I have six columns, one for each of my 6 children. However, you’ll see that two columns have names and the rest are listed as Kid 1, Kid 2, Kid 3, Kid 4.
There are only Kids 1 through 4 because the two youngest, Jacqueline at 8 and Augie at 4, are not yet old enough to do many of the main chore rotations, so I gave them age-appropriate duties.
The rest of the chores are evenly spread out between Kid 1, Kid 2, Kid 3, and Kid 4. My four older children take up those spots: Joseph, Brigette, Nichole, and Maisy. Every week, the chores rotate, so if Joseph was Kid 1 last week, then he’d be Kid 2 this week and Kid 3 next week.
This step is where you build out your chore chart. Take each chore from your list and spread them out between each column. I created my list in Excel, so it was easy to just copy and paste each chore into the right column and then move them around until they made sense.
If you don’t have excel or you prefer to work with a pen, you can write out all the chores on a piece of paper, cut them out and move them around until they make sense. You can then build out your chore chart from there.
3. Get your kiddos input and buy-in.
Once the chore chart was set up and ready to go, I asked my children for their input. After they shared their thoughts with me, I moved the chores around and asked for their input again.
We went a couple of rounds until the children all agreed that the chores were dispersed evenly, and the chart was set up fairly.
Ladies, this is a HUGE step to reaching chore chart success and a step that must not be ignored. I got their buy-in.
You see, when I asked my children for their input, I wasn’t just getting their buy-in, I was also getting their permission to assign them these chores. This way, when it was their turn to be kid 1 or kid 3, they couldn’t give the typical, “It’s not fair” teenage song and dance routine. They had signed off on it and hence, taken responsibility.
4. Place the chore chart in a prominent place in the house and then assign the first week.
Once the chore chart is complete, and you have buy-in from your kiddos, put the chore chart in a place where they’ll see it every day, and then assign the first week of chores.
I laminated our chore chart, as previous chore charts have somehow ended up torn and damaged. Then, we placed it on the refrigerator and assigned the first week of chores as follows: Joseph (18)–Kid 1, Brigette (17)–Kid 2, Nichole (15) –Kid 3, Maisy (12) –Kid 4.
I’m not going to say it’s all been sunshine and roses since implementing this chore chart, because kids will always be kids, but I will say that our house has been cleaner and there has been a lot less complaining about who has to do what. Add to that that it’s the FIRST chore chart that has ever worked this well in our almost 19 years of parenting (Big WIN!!).
Now, everyone knows what is required of them. Instead of wondering who was supposed to do what, we just have to address whether or not everyone did his or her part.
All this being said, it’s important to keep in mind that there are always those kiddos who are naturally more organized, the ones who miss the details, and the ones who are bonified escape artists (don’t we all have one of those?). Thus, we need to keep checking in throughout the week.
I have told my children that I don’t always expect everything to be perfect, but I do expect that they’ll get their chores done really well at least two times a week, and keep everything picked up throughout the rest of it.
A couple of times a week, I’ll call them to task on their chores. Sometimes, I’ve even had them come back into the kitchen or dining room after 9 pm to get their chores done if something’s particularly bad and has been ignored.
In the end, it’s not about living in a perfectly clean home. Trent and I are really big on responsibility and teaching that to our kids. It’s about living in a peaceful home that’s lived in and not “gross” and also about taking responsibility for the home they live in as part of their daily routine. These are lessons that they’ll need to have learned when they leave home and enter as adults into society.
Before I end, I want to quickly address my young mama friends. If all of your children are little yet, I want to encourage you to start a chore chart as soon as they’re able to help. Even though this is our first chore chart that really works well for the older kiddos, our children have helped with chores since they were very young.
Again, it raises them with the mindset that they’re expected to help keep their environment clean and organized, and will hopefully give them the tools they need to stay that way as they get older.
I wish you the best of luck with your chore chart (don’t forget to snag your free printable chore charts here.) If you have questions while putting yours together, please feel free to reach out. I’m always happy to help one of my fellow mamas. We’re in the trenches together, my friend.
With His grace…we’ve got this!