When a Chore Chart Doesn’t Work


Episode 6 – How to make a chore chart work

Today’s question: I’ve tried chore charts in the past, but I have a hard time keeping up with them. I let things slide, but then it bothers me that my kids don’t help out more around the house. My older kid is more cooperative than the younger, so I end up asking him to do more work. He complains about the inequity and he’s totally right. I get so tired of the negotiating and complaining when I ask my daughter to do a simple little task. My current system is unfair and unhelpful. How can I make a chore chart that sticks?   Melinda The Parent Education Answer:  When chore charts have the most success, it’s because it fits with the personality of the parent or of the kid(s). Some people love the sense of satisfaction they get from checking a box, the pride from displaying their accomplishments, and the predictability of what is expected of them. If this sounds like you or your kiddo and external validation is something you value, by all means, create a system and commit to it. Even if it wanes after a month or two, that’s okay. Just create a new one and enjoy the novelty. Allow the kids to have input on any adjustments to it. Most parenting experts suggest not tying chores to allowance but instead reinforcing the child’s role in being a responsible member of the household. If your kids are reluctant, you may need to provide an incentive like no screen time until chores are complete, or a reward once completed. Sometimes a chore chart can make a kid want to rebel against it. “Brag boards” are an alternative where your child gets to post and boast about the chores they have completed. If you like the chore chart but your kid doesn’t, keep it for yourself as a way to stay organized, but find other motivation for your kid that works for them. The life coaching answer: What you’ve got here is a classic example of cognitive dissonance. This means you have two competing beliefs going on at the same time. Part of you places a strong value with kids helping out with household chores. The other part of you doesn’t want to negotiate and argue every time you want your daughter to empty the dishwasher. When we are in cognitive dissonance, any system we implement is doomed to fail. Your kids will sense your lack of conviction, “forget” to do their chore or talk their way out it. The only way to get a chore chart to work is to decide and commit to it. Before you declare anything out loud, you’ve got to be clear inside yourself. Right now, when you think about asking your kids to do chores, how do you feel? My guess is tired, annoyed, burdened, or some other negative emotion. These emotions cause moms to act inconsistently and sabotage their own chore charts. The first step is to accept things you have no control over. It sounds like your daughter likes to argue and negotiate. This is just part of her personality, so we need to let that go. Kids don’t generally like doing chores, so let’s not pin our hopes on some magic chore chart that will make them eager workers. The next step is to decide which of your competing values gets top priority. What is more important to you? 1. To never argue and negotiate with your daughter 2. To distribute the chores to both kids equitably 3. To have your children contribute to household chores Which one will you be more proud of in the long run? If you choose #3, you need to commit to this. Be proud of your choice. Decide that this is more important and that no matter how much push back you get, it’s for a good cause. If you incorporate a chore chart, do it with joy and determination. How you feel about your chore chart is more important than anything else. Decide you are going to love it. Decide that it doesn’t have to last forever. Prepare yourself for arguing, but plan ahead of time to just smile and point at the chart. You will be amazed at how much more energy you have when you aren’t arguing with yourself inside your head. Supermom Kryptonite: Open Loops One of the reasons motherhood drains so many of us, is we are never done. The tasks are circular, and it’s hard to get a sense of accomplishment. This makes it even more important that we close as many loops as we can. Having open loops, or things in our head that we need to make decisions on, follow up on, and complete, is exhausting. To free up your energy, ask yourself every day: “What is weighing on my mind?” or “What am I trying not to think about?”. Whatever your answer is to these questions, find a way to close the loop on the issue. If it’s kids and chores, make a decision and stick with it. If it’s a conversation you’ve been avoiding, have it and resolve it. The more decisions you make ahead of time, the more energy, creativity and mental clarity you will have. Supermom Power Boost: Softening This is counter-intuitive because we think tension gives us power, and it does in a way. Think of a runner in the starting blocks of a race. Their body is tense, and ready to explode into action. After the race they relax and their body softens. The problem with Supermoms, is the race never ends. This is not a healthy way to live; we need rest and relaxation time. Since many Supermoms struggle with this, I’ve found a short cut called “softening”. Think about something that causes you tension, find the tension in your body, and physically soften it. Eventually we’ll need to get the brain on board, but this is a quick first step. This will give you energy because it’s more aligned with how our bodies are designed: to spend lots of time in rest and relaxation. Quote of the Day “Tension is who you think you should be, relaxation is who you are.” Chinese Proverb Would you like help with prioritizing your values and creating more rest and relaxation? Sign up for a free discovery call at www.lifecoachingforparents.com/work-with-me    

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