A Small Detour

I’ve been working on decluttering and organizing my house lately, but today I made a small detour.

The Taterbug’s chore chart had been living in my household management binder for several months now, and it just wasn’t working well. Every time she did a chore, we had to open up the binder so she could put a sticker on the chart. I didn’t mind doing that, but it was creating a lot of wear and tear on the binder. Also, it occurred to me that Boodie does her fair share of chores, so she needed a chart too.

Off to the internet I went, in search of a printable chore chart. I quickly discovered that most of the charts had one of three fatal flaws:

1. They didn’t have room for all of the chores that the girls do every day
2. They were really ugly
3. They didn’t allow me to customize them.

Sigh.

I finally went back to the first site I looked at, DTLK Kids. I have to say, I’m not crazy about the clipart they offer, so I didn’t use any of it. I just changed font colors and printed on colored papers to make the chore charts more fun. While I was at it, I made some chore charts for the grown-ups too.

When you keep your chore list in your head, it’s just too easy for everyone in the home to “forget” to do the little things that keep your home from becoming a pigsty. When there’s a checklist posted, you can’t pretend you didn’t know it needed to be done. Well, I suppose you still could, if you’re willing to risk being murdered in your sleep.

I made a list of 10 things, in no particular order, that are unacceptable when unexpected guests arrive at my door–any other messes, could be generously attributed to having an off day:

1: Cruddy floors
2: Greasy, grimy stove top
3: Dried toothpaste scum in the sink
4: Dried toothpaste smeared on the bathroom mirrors (why yes, yes I do have a toddler)
5: Crumbs and dried yogurt all over the dining room table (sadly, it isn’t just the children who are responsible for this)
6: Smelly trash can
7: Piled laundry on top of my dryer
8: Dirty dishes on the work table
9: Empty Toilet paper roll
10: Dirty clothes on the bathroom floor

Upon review of the list, it was clear that the majority of the problem areas are located in the kitchen and bathrooms. So I made up a checklist for each one. Then, I laminated all of the checklists I had made.

The girls will use little reward stickers to mark each chore as it is completed. The adults will just use boring old dry-erase markers. I’ll post the chore charts in obnoxiously conspicuous places to start off with. Once we get a good habit going, I’ll move them to more subtle, but still visible locations.

2-9-2011 UPDATE: After a little over a week, I have made a few nice discoveries. The first is that my girls are quite motivated by putting stickers on their chore charts, no need for allowance or other incentives. The second is that cartoon time can also be a powerful motivator. The girls now believe that the t.v. doesn’t get turned on in the morning until their morning chores are done. So I get two clean, dressed, fed children first thing in the morning, or I get a break from the annoying background noise. Either way, I win.

The third “discovery” I have made is that it’s much easier to keep the kitchen and bathrooms clean than to get them clean. Duh. But really, there is such a difference between knowing this intellectually, and experiencing it.

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