The William Morris Project 1014 | Chore Charts
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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.
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!
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.
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.