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Family organization isn’t easy. Getting a family to do chores – just the thought makes you cringe a little, doesn’t it? It’s something that each family struggles with, and yet, so important in keeping the household running effectively.
My experience has found that keeping a central place in the house for family information, including messages to one another and responsibilities, is the most effective in keeping us (mostly!!) organized. We call it our “family communications center”.
Our family communications area is located in the stairwell to our basement living area and comes complete with white boards, cork boards, magnets, and push pins. It’s not the prettiest arrangement, but it works for us.
A calendar to schedule everything from birthdays to weekly events.
A communications board with homework responsibilities, goals, and a place to put papers for me to sign. I really dislike having them all over the counter. (Note: Washi tape works really well to create sections on a whiteboard and I used a permanent marker to write anything that needs to stay up permanently. Goals and homework assignments are written in dry erase marker.)
A weekly board with our meal plan (for budgeting purposes!) and weekly events.
All this to say that I highly recommend picking a place in your home, if you have one, to set up some sort of organization system. It streamlines the chaos and prevents excuses of “I didn’t know I was supposed to do that.”
My family has always struggled with how to get the chores done. I’ve tried plenty of methods in hopes of getting each person engaged and willing to do their part, and most of them have failed. What I have found effective is the concept of “zones”.
Each person in our home has their own “zone” and every zone consists of several rooms (i.e. one zone might have bathroom, living room, and entryway and the other might have the hallway, dining room, and basement living area). Needless to say, everyone has their own space that they are responsible for. Check out my template here.
I broke them down the following way based on our home layout and the abilities of the person responsible for the zone:
Zone 1: living room, dining room, den, basement living area, and front entryway
Zone 2: upstairs bathroom, hallway, downstairs bathroom, and laundry room
Zone 3: kitchen duties, master bathroom, washing towels, washing sheets, mopping/sweeping
Zone 4: vacuuming the entire house, litter boxes cleaned
Each zone also includes maintaining own bedroom and getting laundry to the wash on the appropriate wash day. (In our home, everyone has their own wash day). We use page protectors and whiteboard markers to check off the lists each week.
In the past we’ve had chore charts that list “wipe hard surfaces,” “dust,” or “dish duty,” and there’s really nothing wrong with that, but I’ve found it leaves a lot of room for neglect when it comes to chores.
Take the living room for example. Ours is pretty highly trafficked, so there is frequently clutter and dust. If my daughter is responsible only for wiping down the surfaces, but the room is cluttered, then what is going to encourage her to do a good job? She might do it the first time, taking pride in doing a new task, but eventually, she will hope the clutter covers up the surfaces she hasn’t wiped. And honestly, until someone shows up and we pick up the clutter, no one will notice.
If, on the other hand, I give my daughter complete responsibility for that room, she has to tidy up that clutter before wiping the surfaces and make sure the couch pillows look nice. I know the look on her face when she’s done a “sparkly clean” (excellent) job cleaning the room: she’s excited she did a good job and I can tell immediately whether or not the task has been completed.
Add to that the fact that she is now responsible for that room (along with others in her zone) for the entire week. Try leaving your dirty socks on the floor in the room she’s just cleaned. I guarantee she won’t be happy about it, and she will let you know.
Suddenly she’s the clutter police and I don’t have to be!
Of course, you can adjust this system to suit your own family needs, but I HIGHLY recommend making a chore list for each family member. My husband doesn’t have as many chores as the kids and I do, and part of that is because he works full-time and is finishing his master’s degree, but he does vacuum and take care of the cat litter boxes.
Full family participation gives the zone system more credibility as the kids understand exactly how much work mom and dad do in the house and that they aren’t “doing all of the chores in the house” as they like to think they are.
To go along with our “zone” cleaning method, I also incorporate incentives, although it’s not necessary. In our home, we have a monetary system in which the kids earn “Mom bucks” that they can use on the weekends for video game time, movies, Starbucks drinks, book purchases, and more. With the implementation of the “zones” system, I told my kids that they would each earn a certain amount of “Mom bucks” as well as a full-sized candy bar if their tasks were fully completed and done with a pleasant attitude. Either way, they are required to complete the tasks, but multiple reminders and bad attitudes will lose them some (or all) of the reward.
If you have a chore system that works for your family I’d love to hear about it. Please leave me a comment below!
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