Setting Up a Chore Schedule: How I’m Getting My Kids to Do Chores

Posted July 26, 2011 by

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This may seem crazy, but none of our children have set chores to do on a daily/weekly basis. Maybe it’s because from the time I was nine years old, I helped my mother around the house. She was a single mom and worked full time. I kept the house clean and helped out with getting dinner ready after school. Most of the time she made meals in the crock pot, but I helped out with the extras. It was almost cathartic for me when I was cleaning. As an adult I always feel more organized when the area I am in is clean and organized. Having children has made that nearly impossible.

So, over the years I asked the kids to help out with certain things. One child emptied the dishwasher pretty regularly when asked, while the other emptied out only the silverware. If trash needed to go out, I’d ask one of them, or I’d leave a note for when they came home from school with a specific job I needed done. Mostly they complied without complaint. I preferred to do the major chores by myself. I still get the relaxing feeling I did while I was younger while dusting and organizing. Although the house is pretty chaotic all the time, I always know where things are, amazingly!

Now that we have added my one more child to the mix, my stepson, what needs to be done around the house has quadrupled . To be honest, I just can’t keep up with it any longer. The fact that all of the children are boys and all three have ADHD does not help. So I decided it was time to set up a regular chore routine for the entire family, husband included.  I came up with a fun idea to liven it up a bit: I wrote weekly and daily chores on ping pong balls and thought it would be fun to pick from the balls every Sunday evening. At first, the younger boys even fought over who had more ping pong balls. Yes, you heard me. This meant they fought over who had the most chores! They begged to be the one to pick the extra ball the next week!

The first week went great until the end, when they needed to be reminded and they commented on how bored they were with doing their same jobs day after day. On Sunday we picked new jobs and again they were competing for the most chores, but when it came time to do them it was a different story. “Really, I have to sweep the floor again?” My response was, “Really? I have to cook dinner again?” to try to show them how I did chores that are not even listed on top of the chores that had now been assigned to me weekly! My 11-year-old says, “Hey, this is not about you! This is about me and not wanting to do this anymore!” My response to him was, “OK, so who do you expect to do the chores if you don’t? Me, right? So this is totally about me!”

It has actually turned comical, the complaints and excuses they come up with and we are only in WEEK 3! I guess it’s my fault that they were spoiled. They also all have different ideas about doing chores. The oldest, now 20, wants the same chores every week because he cannot be expected to read the chart and remember what his new chores are each week. The other boys want a new chore every day so they do not get bored. They also want my other step son, age 14, who comes every other weekend, to make up in a weekend all of the chores they have had to do while he is not with us. Oh, sure, that seems fair.

It has definitely been a learning experience!


I am a mom of two boys, ages 16 and 22, both with ADHD, bipolar disorder, anxiety and depression. I have remarried and my husband has 2 boys, ages 13 and 16. The 13 year old lives with us, and has some behavioral problems and attachment issues. There is always something happening at our house!

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  1. joseph27 Report

    Hi, to get children involved in doing ‘anything’ use a democratic style approach to parenting your child. Hold a democratic family meeting. and ask the children for suggestions on getting the house clean, tidy and getting chores done.

    This way you are respecting the child’s rights , giving unconditional love and most important you are really ‘listening’ to the child’s opinion. Create independent children , emotionally educated children and mostly happy contented children.
    Joseph: Child Psychotherapist and Behavioural Therapist (ABA) UK. Mauritius

  2. Ben Report

    Emmie, loved your post. Reading your story I came to the conclusion that I honestly don´t know whats the best idea/ method to get your kids to do chores.. I know in theory it all seems very logical but when you try to put it in practice its a lot more complicated. One thing I have learned so far and that is that kids need some sort of rules system in order to get structure and be happier. Thanks for Sharing.

  3. Madisonwithkids Report

    I appreciate that the author didn’t portray having a perfect system, and admitting there is still struggle and complaints, yet is still encourages me to act. I thrive on a clean and orderly environment which I haven’t had in a few years and I also can’t seem to delegate to my three girls, ages 9 & under even though I did everything for my single mom when I was quite young. I’m now determined to work on some things patiently with them and make it an expectation, because I’ll be a better mom and wife if I can get some help! Weren’t all of us WAITING for this older age when our kids were still crawling??? And here I’m not even taking “advantage” of it!

  4. JanaC2 Report

    When we only had one child, my sister (who now has 7) strongly suggested we give him chores despite the fact that it is easier to do many of the tasks ourself. We started him early with folding kitchen towels and he is now responsible for putting away the clean silverware and his clothing. I keep thinking it will get easier (no fights) but it is still a challenge each and every time.
    Thankfully, my youngest (age 2) is a quick learner and jumps right in to help any time I am doing chores.



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