Remember that chore chart that hung on the fridge when you were little? Your parents would give you a gold star just for making your bed or taking the trash out. Adults need positive reinforcements too, and it turns out a reward system works to keep us motivated and on task. That’s organization at it’s finest.
For today’s DIY Tuesday, I’m sharing with you the chore chart that keeps my household in tip-top shape. I’ll admit, it’s a little embarrassing that we need such a device to remind us to keep our home clean, but it really works! And I’ll bet any home could benefit from one. I’m especially crazy about it because it helps my husband and I ensure we have a 50/50 partnership – the foundation our relationship is built on. This would have also come in handy in college or with previous roommate/living situations. You can personalize it in any way you choose – don’t stop tweaking it until it works for your household! I need to tweak the spelling of “vacuum”, for example… No shame!
- Photo Frame
- Printer* & Paper
- Microsoft Word, Adobe InDesign, or a similar design program*
- Dry-Erase Marker
- Your family!
*You don’t have to make this on your computer. Using a ruler and markers, you could make a handmade chore chart!
Call a family meeting to order. If it’s just you, there’s no need for roll call (hopefully). Together, come up with a list of the chores that need to be completed around your home. Next to each task, decide how often this task is expected to be completed, whether it be daily, each week, each month, once per season, or once a year. We have a small one-bedroom apartment that we clean in full every 2 weeks or when we have company.
Next, have a realistic discussion about how long each task should take. Cleaning the windows will take longer than making the bed, for example. It is also helpful to time these tasks as you put your plan into action and make adjustments as you go. In order to have a completely fair system, this can be useful.
Finally, keeping in mind how long each task takes and how often it needs to be completed, assign chores to each member of the household. Maybe Susie spends 2 hours every other Saturday cleaning the floors and dusting the furniture while Tommy spends an hour every Sunday cleaning the bathroom and kitchen. Finding a balance will take time, but I promise it will be worth it if everyone comes to the table desiring a fair system.
Oftentimes one or more people will need to adjust their expectations for what a clean home looks like – take time finding a compromise. For example, I make our bed every morning because my cortisol levels rise if I see an unmade bed (it’s true, I’ll share that in my book review of The Organized Mind – coming soon!), whereas Jon could not care less.
Some chores you may choose to alternate rather than split because of their irregular nature or a mutual hatred (or love!) of the task. We alternate taking out the trash, recycling, and scooping our cat’s litter. These tasks are at the bottom of our chart under the heading “Whose Turn Is It?”. When the task is complete, we initial the box to indicate to the other person it’s their turn. Jon has told me this is the most helpful aspect of the chart for him. Some things aren’t on the chart because they’re so darn obvious: we do our own laundry and we try to always go to the grocery store together (it can be a fun date night! Ok, now I feel old). We alternate cooking meals, and whoever doesn’t cook always handles clean up and the dishes.
Because we do all of our chores every 2 weeks, at the top of our chart we have a deadline that we fill in with the dry-erase marker. There are only 2 of us in the household, so the chart is split in half: my chores are on the left and Jon’s on the right. We have the lines in the chart with each task on a line and a check box beside each chore for us to mark with the dry-erase marker. If there are chores that need completing at different time intervals, I would suggest making a four-column chart with headings (Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Seasonally, and Annually). Beside each chore and check box, write the person’s name or initials – you can even color code! This might also be easier for households larger than two people.
Print it out, stick it in a pretty frame, and hang it in an accessible place! Place the dry eraser mark nearby, and use the system. It won’t work if each person is not committed to it. I could go on and on about the benefits of posting chores: they negate the need for nagging, they foster communication about relationship expectations and each person’s environment needs, they serve as a reminder of the commitment each individual has made to the community.
And, since a check mark doesn’t feel quite as rewarding as a gold star, you can develop your own reward system – a glass of wine and a piece of dark chocolate for me! 😉 Not to mention the never-ending reward of a clean, organized sanctuary!