When the boys were younger, I knew they should be doing more chores, but I didn’t know how to make them do what I asked. If I nagged and threatened enough, things would get done, but more often than not Dad would wind up doing them.
I finally called a family meeting (boys and Mom at the table; Dad in the kitchen cleaning and listening in). I explained that while they were pretty good about doing Saturday chores (that’s another blog), we needed a system to make sure daily chores got done. I listed for them the tasks that needed to be done on a daily basis: unloading and loading the dishwasher, setting and clearing the table, and taking care of the kitty’s food and litter box. We discussed how often they wanted to switch off (every week), and I let them choose which day to switch (Saturday is the first day of the new Chore Week).
Next we discussed consequences for failure to comply. Grounding from screen time was an obvious choice, but the boys also came up with the idea of a “Chore Slave.” The Chore Slave would have to be at the beck and call of Mom and Dad for the entire weekend, and Mom and Dad would be sure they worked really hard. (I only remember enforcing this once.)
The chore chart lived on the refrigerator; I made it by printing out a simple chart and strengthening it with adhesive photo laminate. I bought some little wood pieces and painted them, then glued them onto strong magnets. Every Saturday somebody (usually the guy on dishes) switched the magnets. Later we revised the list: the table guy also did trash and recycle, and the guy on cat duty also helped with food prep. After washing his hands, please.
This system has worked so well that it’s still in use. When the college boys come home, their magnets are put back on the chart and the rotation begins again.
It’s also led to one of those family-bonding inside jokes. At least once a week Dad will stand right in front of the refrigerator and yell, “Who’s on dishes?!” And somebody will yell back, “Look on the chore chart!”