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Motherhood is all about repetition- doing the same things over and over again. Many of these things are great: good night kisses before bed every night, family dinners together or weekly trips to the park; and others are not so fun: mountains of laundry, constantly picking up the endless toys and dirty clothes on the floor, cleaning, sweeping or tidying. Now that school is out, I find my kids tend to get a bit “lazier” and don’t always do what they are expected to do, probably since our schedules are more lax. Now that my kids are older, I have decided I am fed up in constantly doing things that easily could be doing and I am implementing a new strategy to get them to help: chore jars!
Now, don’t get me wrong, my kids aren’t filthy or anything, they just often need some reminders on what to do when. I do blame myself since I tend to just do it on my own since that feels “easier” at time, but who am I kidding? By doing it myself, not only am I making three times the work for me, but I am not doing them any favors by not making them do their own chores. We have tried sticker charts and chore magnets, but they didn’t always work- more often because I didn’t always follow through. That ends now with these jars. They were so simple to make and cute too. They don’t need any weekly printing or anything, make them once and you are set- unless you want to add more chores.
To make these, you will need:
mason jars (or any kind of jar)
washi tape (for decorating)
colored star (or circle) stickers
To make them is incredibly easy: just write your kids names on paper and tape them on with washi tape and you are done with the jars! You can customize the colors to match your child’s personality or let them decorate their own jars. Once you’re jars are done, it’s time to write your chores down. I divided my chores into two groups: must-to’s and can-do’s. I was inspired by this from when I was teaching and I had jobs (work) they had to do before they got to move onto the extra, more fun work. The chores are the same way. I am a firm believer in making your child be responsible for certain things just because without any reward. Take “picking up after yourself”. I don’t believe your child needs a prize for picking up the toys they were playing with- it’s their job. They took it out, they put it away. Obviously, when you have little kids, like toddlers, and you are training them how to clean, yes, it’s important to give the lots of positive reinforcement (and maybe even a small incentive) for belong to clean. Does my 9 year old need a prize anymore? Umm, NO.
So for the “must-do’s” I picked 8 jobs for everyone: clean room, make bed, pick up toys, clear table (like their own dishes), dirty clothes away, straighten stuffies (on their beds in particular), homework and reading. I wrote how long each child needs to read for depending on their age- an obviously homework is for the school year, but I added it anyways. My oldest has two additional jobs that involve her dog and my middle son has one extra job, take in the trash and recycle barrel each week. Then I chose 12 “can-do” jobs- four for each child per week. I picked clean bathroom counters, clean kitchen counters (wipe down), clean slider door (the glass), tidy basement, dust living room, dust kitchen and dining room, bring in mail, pick weeds, water plants, sweep kitchen, and sweep the patio and front porch.
All the must do jobs are placed in each child’s jar, red sticker up and I randomly picked 4 can do’s for each child, gold stickers up. The red and gold stickers up signify that they are NOT COMPLETE yet.
Here’s how the system will work:
1. At the beginning of each day, all jobs are placed in the jar red and gold stickers up.
2. Each day the kids are responsible for every red sticker job. These have to be done every day, some more than once, but at the end of the day, or as they do them, they flip the stick over to GREEN to show that they did it. At the end of the night, I’ll check to see if they did all of their must-do jobs and then flip them back over for the next day.
3. During the week, they need to do each gold can-do job at least once. Once it’s flipped over to green, it stays flipped over till the end of the week.
4. Now for the fun part: at the end of the week, I’ll note who did all of their daily jobs and how many can-do jobs they did. They kids will earn 50 cents for each can-do job, ONLY IF THEY DID ALL OF THEIR MUST-DO JOBS EACH DAY. That can be a potential earning of $2 a week for each child, which I think is plenty for now. They can use their money for whatever they wish: spend it, save it or whatever!
The theory is to get them helping but also teaching them the responsibility of doing required work and some extra to earn a little money. When I get my kids helping me to clean, I like to use more natural cleaners where I don’t have to worry about them breathing in nasty chemicals or hurting their skin. My very favorite line of cleaners to use is the Green Works line from Clorox. Not only is this line from a brand that I trust for taking care of the dirtiest jobs but it now comes in a non-toxic, biodegradable, and plant and mineral based form, that I trust not only me using but my kids too!
Thankfully the whole entire line of Green Works products is sold at my very favorite store, Target, so any time I am there (like every day!) I can pick up more dish soap, all-purpose cleaner, glass cleaner, laundry soap and bleach. Don’t be fooled by the words “natural” and “green”, these cleaners mean business. They clean super effectively, quickly and naturally- with no nasty smells or residues left behind.
The whole Clorox Green Works line are great to let your kids help with, so when one of my kids pulls the “clean the kitchen counters” stick, one Cleaning Wipe or a few sprays of the All-Purpose Cleaner will do the trick. They both clean up sticky messes, crumbs and spills easily with their advanced grease-fighting properties but are safe enough to use on high chairs or table tops.
Even thought it’s not an actual “chore” my girls are super into helping me with the dishes, so that’s why I love letting them help me with the Green Works dish soap. This little bottle of naturally derived dish soap cuts through tough grease, removes baked-on food and easily rinses away for a sparkling, streak-free shine- and since it’s made with 98% naturally derived ingredients and dermatologist-tested, this dish soap is gentle on your hands, so you can use it every day on every load of dishes!
Helping with the laundry will probably be the next thing I teach my oldest how to do. I don’t think she’s quite ready yet, but soon I’ll trust her to help me with a load or so, and when I do, I’ll be sure showing her how to measure the Green Works laundry soap. My kids have always had sensitive skin, so I love how this laundry detergent is made with 96% naturally derived ingredients so it attacks tough stains, dissolving dirt, oil and grease but is still phosphates-free and is safe for sensitive skin.
So what is your system for allowing your kids to help with cleaning? Do you have chores or just a “help sometimes” system?