The William Morris Project 1014 | Chore Charts

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The William Morris Project


A week ago last Sunday, Nico walked into the bathroom to brush his hair for church. He was wearing black dress shoes, which didn’t work with his khakis and simple collared shirt. I asked him to put on his regular church shoes. He went back into his room and not 10 seconds later, Mikey came in wearing similar dress shoes with a similar casual outfit. The problem–aside from looking ridiculous–was that the shoes looked 2 sizes too small. He was wearing Nico’s dress shoes.

“These are the only nice shoes I could find!”

Mikey couldn’t find his dress shoes because Nico was wearing them.

“Did either of you notice that your shoes didn’t fit? Mikey, did you notice your shoes were too small?! Nico, did you notice that your feet were slipping out of your shoes?!”

I mean, honestly. On closer inspection, Nico had clown feet and Mikey had really creepy satyr feet.

They both returned wearing scuffed school sneakers. “We can’t find our shoes!”

I was not pleased. I went through their shoe drawer and found a pair of slippers and one flip-flop. I opened their closet and found piles of toys and sporting gear. I wanted to stomp out of their bedroom but I slipped on an abandoned pile of Pokemon cards. I yelled from that second on until we pulled into the church driveway.

The boys are so messy if left to their own devices. Mikey has been held after school for the sole purpose of cleaning up his area. He has the dubious distinction of being the class’s “messiest boy.” Nico is a squirrel; tragedy is afoot when he isn’t surrounded by a nest of paper, art supplies, and stuffed animals. I get angry at them, but then I get angry at myself for getting upset.

I was so upset on Sunday that I finally sat down at my computer and vowed I would not get up until I found a chore chart system we could implement immediately. I bought something a month or so ago, but I did it quickly and misread the item description. It wasn’t what I wanted.

This time, I stay focused and struck gold.

Chores, 1

I bought the editable chore chart package from Paper & Oats for $5. That night, we had it filled out and ready to put into use. We held a “family meeting” and discussed expectations. The boys were familiar with all the chores since they are chores they should be doing anyway. Seeing it on paper was something altogether different.

The first question they had involved money. As in: how much. “None,” I said. “This isn’t a list of jobs–it’s a list of expectations. You don’t get paid for doing what is expected of you.”

Too harsh? Too bad!

Chores, 2

If they want money, they can volunteer to do some paid jobs, like organize Pokemon cards or clean out the closet. Each job has a rate, and they can do it all themselves or split the workload (and money). They can only collect the money if they finish their expected chores for the week. I had to put that disclaimer in immediately because I could see Mikey’s wheels spinning.

Chores, 3

Finally, they have a “dream big” sheet where they are awarded stickers when they go above and beyond around the house or show exceptionally good behavior or decision making. Mikey asked for his own PC and Nico asked for “a real red panda.”

When I pointed out that he would never, ever get a real red panda he looked at me the way all children do when shackled to an adult devoid of vision and optimism. He now wants “to Get a Real parakeet.”

Two weeks in and the house looks so, so much better. The boys, I’ve realized, are just like me. They need a to-do list they can refer to throughout the day to keep them on track. They check their progress throughout the day and are often surprised when they see they forgot to feed the hermit crabs or put away their laundry. The Mister and I spend far less time nagging and feeling resentful. It’s been great, far better than I anticipated.

Although I orignally planned to hang the charts on a large cork board in our dining room, I think I’m going to keep them here in the kitchen. This way, they’re low enough for the boys to mark up during the week. I have them up with washi tape right now, but that’s only because I haven’t had the time to insert cork into the recesses of the cabinetry. It looks a little sloppy now, but once I get a minute to organize the area, I think it will look good.

My favorite bit of this chore chart adventure has been seeing the boys’ personalities shine through in something as simple as checking a box. Mikey uses the same pen to mark off each chore. He might switch it up from day to day, but all day his checks are consistent and in the same color. Nico doesn’t even use checks–or pens, for that matter. He makes smiley faces, cubes, paint splats, X’s, and, one day, doves. Perhaps they were parakeets.

image source

Jules Kendall writes about books, family, and easygoing simplicity.


  1. says

    Good job boys! Although when I first read this I thought you bought “edible” chore charts. I think I need to go back to bed and start my day over! LOL!

  2. Larissa says

    Thank you so much for blogging about this, Jules! I meant to ask you about those chore charts but kept forgetting! We have done different kinds of charts in the past, and they would only keep the boys motivated for a week. I think the problem was that I had a different sheet for each day and they were laminated. They probably felt like the list was never-ending. Anyway, I love these, and I love her other downloads. Thanks again!! :)

  3. Alexis says

    Thanks for saying “No” to payment for everyday chores. I completely agree. I tell my kid it’s his contribution to our family. Pulling their weight. And I like that you added some things that are above and beyond so they could earn a bit of money.

  4. Jenn says

    A real red panda! I love it! We need something like this for our boys. I must admit that I tried to zoom in to see precisely what was on your chore charts and earn it sheet to get some ideas. My younger son would be all over the “earn it” tasks. He likes to get things done and he would be thrilled to earn money for tasks. My older son would struggle to get his required stuff done. Why do things when you can be reading, thinking or listening to music? Or playing basketball if it is nice outside.

  5. Melissa says

    I don’t often comment on anyone’s blog, but I had to click over and thank you. First of all, I haven’t laughed so hard at anything for a while, and this killed me: “he looked at me the way all children do when shackled to an adult devoid of vision and optimism.” I’m familiar with that look. Second, I’m going to blatantly copy exactly what you did and see if I can attain any success. Our house is a disaster and all I do is nag and yell, which (surprise!) isn’t helping one bit. I completely agree about no payment for what you should be doing as a functioning member of the family and society, but also want to work in some money lessons, and this seems like a perfect mix. Please know, you really helped me today!

  6. says

    This concept is identical to my childhood chore/earn system. We were mostly tidy kids (except my sister … GAH!), so our chores were a short list of the other duties that we often procrastinated on (vacuuming, dishes, poo-pickup, etc). There was a recipe box with payable jobs. The front of the card indicated the job name & pay rate. The back had the details of what was expected for full pay. We also had the disclaimer of no $ if all weekly chores weren’t caught up.
    We also had family meetings every Friday. As we got older, these meetings were less and less looked forward to – mostly because it turned into a harping session at the teenagers who weren’t pulling their weight or who weren’t treating their siblings/parents with respect. Fun times. But in all seriousness, it is something that has stuck with me and as an adult, I appreciate every bit of what my parents were doing.

  7. Susan G says

    Genius! I wish I’d thought of something like this when my children were young. Good for you for sticking to your guns and at the same time finding a way that works for them. You will all be happier. The best part of this is how they check things off so differently. Mikey is a boy after my own heart, but oh how I wanted to be a Nico free spirit!

  8. says

    “Too harsh? Too bad!”

    I love this and your reasons for saying it. This is life: I don’t get rewards for scrubbing the tub, doing laundry, cooking meals, etc except for the satisfaction of knowing it’s done and done well. The ‘entitlement’ attitude in some of my nieces and nephews really chaps my netherparts.

  9. Phaedra says

    Ohhh the chore chart. We have something similar. I do pay my child a weekly allowance, but not a ‘per chore’ payment. She has to have completed everything on her chart throughout the week and then she gets a couple of bucks (literally. $2. flash to Better Off Dead right now, ‘two dollars. I want my two dollars’). I decided to pay a bit only because I wanted her to start managing some money on her own (and hence the reason it’s such a small amount. In any month the total would only be $8-$10. Just enough, but not too much. Any big ticket item will have to be budgeted for). If she doesn’t complete her list? No money. Too harsh? Too bad! LOL. love that!

    I love seeing the boys checkmarks/art on their charts. Definitely can see the personalities shining through! The ‘real red panda’? That kid has Big Dreams all right. I love it!

  10. says

    Thanks, will definitely be checking out the package you got. I’ve been cranky these past 2 weeks of spring break b/c I’ve been cleaning and cleaning and nagging and nagging and nothing has changed. It’s a scary preview of this upcoming summer, and something’s gotta give. We had chore charts & a payment system a couple of years back, attached to a weekly allowance. The kids have actually been requesting a chore chart again, but it’ll be quite different this time around, esp. in regard to money.

  11. Ann says

    Fabulous! Thank you for raising your sons in a manner that teaches them responsibility and accountability – and not about entitlement and what the world owes them. It’s so much easier to start when they are young rather than waiting until they are teenagers and then bemoaning the fact that they never help around the house, they don’t know how to do anything, and they don’t show anyone respect.

  12. says

    Hey there! This is Kelsey from Paper + Oats, and I’m so glad you’re enjoying my chore charts! I love seeing customers simplifying their lives and putting systems in place to keep their whole family on the same page. Great job! And good luck with that panda, Nico :)

  13. roni says

    Are the chore charts still working? I’m thinking of buying this system too. We’ve had generic ones in the past but they’ve never lasted. I don’t want to nag anymore! :)

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