I noticed something alarming when my kids were off for winter break this year: they made a lot of messes, and seemed to think it was my responsibility to clean them up. That was a huge heck-to-the-no on my end for sure. While the chores vs. allowance argument rages on in mom forums and I can’t tell you what’s right for your family, I can tell you what works for ours: these DIY chore charts got my kids excited about chores, gave them the tools they needed to be successful, and now we’re on a roll in a way where they are actually completing chores without argument. With summer fast approaching, I figured it was timely to share how to make this easy DIY chore chart along with age-appropriate chore ideas, plus the kids’ cleaning kits that make it extra simple!
I’ll admit– I was on the fence as to what types of chores they can handle because they seem so young. But then I watched a kids’ cooking competition and saw a 7 year old use a blowtorch to warm up a bowl of frosting and realized that yes indeed, my son can roll the trash cans to the curb. Give them a chance and they’ll rise to the occasion! (that being said, no blowtorches were involved in the making of these chore charts.)
How the Chore System Works
First up, to answer the elephant in the room (address the elephant? ride the elephant? That phrase makes sense in my head, hopefully you catch my drift) — do we give an allowance for completing the chores or do they get an allowance regardless? My personal philosophy that fits our family but may not be right for everyone is that in the real world, you don’t get a paycheck for not working so my kids don’t get an allowance for just being in our family either.
If they complete their chores, they get an allowance. If they don’t complete their chores, they don’t get an allowance. My clever son at first figured he’d get out of chores because he didn’t care about making money, so I added in the rule of no screen time until the chores are finished. After all, I can’t loaf on the couch and watch t.v. and not make dinner or do laundry or dishes, so neither can they. 🙂 This works like a charm: basically, they always complete their chores and always get their allowance. They are ages 8 and 9 so I’m giving them $5 a week for now, but I know many families give the same dollar amount as the age, which makes sense too.
At the beginning of the week, all the clothespin are placed on the left. By Sunday night at 8PM, all chores need to be finished and clothespins on the right. That’s when I hand out their allowance and also their technology tickets for the week.
You may notice I also have daily tasks on their chore charts. This is helpful in establishing habits such as flossing every night and making the bed. Once those habits are intuitive, I take away the clothespin and can add on additional tasks or chores as appropriate.
They each get a cleaning kit with items to help them clean; we stocked up at the Dollar Store and they got to pick out the colors they wanted. I have a list of what’s in each kids’ cleaning kit listed later in the post.
If they want to earn more money, I have a small magnetic container on the side of the fridge full of ‘side hustles’ with the going rate written next to it. For example, my daughter loves to clean the baseboards and earn extra money, and I’m so happy to have this task off my to-do list!
When I pay out the allowance, my kids put $1 in a donation envelope to donate to whichever charity they choose, when they choose it. The remaining $4 gets split into savings (their piggy banks) and spend (such as for spending money on vacations or trips to Target.) This helps teach money management which is so important to instill at a young age (says my credit card from my 22 year old self.)
How to Make Chore Charts
Materials (note: affiliate links are provided for ease in finding the correct product)
- plastic clipboard(s)
- paint pen
- washi tape
- paper labels
- double sided tape
- ABC stickers (optional)
- wood clothespins
- Sharpie marker
- these Command Hooks for hanging
- magnetic acrylic pencil cup (optional)
The hardest part of making the chore chart was choosing the clipboards because #indecisive. 😉 I found these black lacquer clipboards at Office Max but any type will do; I like the plastic because it was easy to write on using a paint pen.
Step One: Measure and cut three strips of washi tape: two pieces going horizontally, and one piece that’s 2/3 of the length going vertically. Place the strips as shown (the horizontal strips divide the board into thirds, and the vertical one gets placed down the middle of the lower 2/3):
Step Two: Place the ABC stickers at the top to spell out the child’s name. You can also use a paint pen if you want to skip the stickers. Write ‘to-do’ and ‘done’ at the top of the columns.
Step Three: Write the words ‘daily’ and ‘weekly’ on the paper labels, and use double sided tape (or heavy-duty adhesive) to attach as shown.
Step Four: Using a Sharpie marker, write chores on both sides of the clothespins. Yes I’m embarrassed about my messy handwriting but kids can read it so I’m going with the mantra done is better than perfect and let me tell you it’s so freeing!
Step Five: Following the directions on the package, use Command Hooks to hang clipboards in an easy-to-reach and central location. We chose the side panel of our fridge area.
Kids Cleaning Kits
To make the chores as ‘no excuses’ as possible, we went on a trip to the Dollar Store to stock up on cleaning supplies. The kids got to choose their buckets and scrubbers and sponges. I also included a Magic Eraser and $1 spray bottle filled with Thieves Cleaner because is toxin-free and safe for the kids to use. They keep them under the sink in the bathroom for which they’re responsible.
Age Appropriate Chores for Kids
Kids of all ages can complete chores– even a 5 year old can fold washcloths! I’ve found that it’s more about the number of chores than the difficulty, with the exception of tasks that require a certain height (ie, unloading the dishwasher and reaching upper cabinets) or skill (being strong enough to roll the trash cans to the curb.) Here’s a list of chores I feel are appropriate for most elementary school aged kiddos– not all at the same time, of course:
- set table
- take out trash
- take trash bins to curb
- collect laundry
- sort laundry
- put away laundry
- pick up the playroom
- sort and fold clean socks
- fold towels
- clean bathroom sink
- clean toilets (we use these fizzies, they love them!)
- clean up bedroom
- sort LEGOS into storage drawers
- wipe kitchen cabinets and/or countertops
- wipe kitchen table after meals
- sharpen pencils in the homework station
- clean baseboards
- sweep deck
- sweep front porch
- weed lawn
As they get older, here’s a few more ideas:
- load and empty dishwasher
- wipe down front door and outdoor furniture
- mow lawn
- wash car
- clean windows
A few daily tasks that were on our charts that we’ve finally turned into habits include:
- flossing teeth
- empty backpack and bring lunchbox to the sink
- clearing plates after meals
- putting dirty clothes in your hamper
- shoes in the shoe basket when you enter the house
- making beds
My goal isn’t to ruin childhood by giving my kids extra work, but to instill great work habits, responsibility, pride for a job well done, and a sense of service to their family. And maybe also ease my workload a bit, just being real.
While getting this system started might seem like a lot of work, trust me, it will pay off when your kids making their own beds and showing off their clean rooms. My kids actually enjoy taking the trash to the curb and just last weekend did all their chores without me nagging even once and even went above and beyond.
Just do it, it’s SO SO WORTH IT, mama!
To make it easy to find supplies, you can shop the post here:
What chores would you add to the list? What system do you use, and what’s your thoughts on allowances? And I’d love to know– at what age did your kids start chores?
And if you’re ready to try more natural cleaning ingredients, click the image below to get a free ebook for cleaning your home with vinegar: