Household chores checklist - it's not magic!Colleen Langenfeld
If you're like many people, you've used tools like a household chores checklist to try and improve the organization in your home, but have been disappointed in the results. There can be many reasons for this, but one of the most common is believing in the magical powers of charts and checklists.
Sad to say...but there is no magic!
Chores and checklists don't have any power to change a household on their own. It's a little like lovingly displaying a hammer on the ground of an open lot and 'expecting' a house to materialize!
The real magic of a household chores checklist and related tools is in their ability to organize your own efforts towards improvement. This is most effective when you take the time to do some upfront planning to build success into the process. Done consistently and correctly, your success rate with these types of tools will skyrocket!
-- Pick your chores checklist.
There are several free or fee-based household checklists available online. Do a little searching and find one you like. Remember, no matter what you choose, you'll need to do some customization of your checklist.
Fill out the checklist for your particular household's situation. I find this part of the process works best if you can give yourself a few days to finish it because you will keep remembering tasks you want to include. That's good as the more complete you can be at this stage of the process, the better.
-- Take a good look at what you've got.
With paper in hand, consider the tasks you've written on your chores checklist so far. Ask yourself the following.
* What supplies are needed to complete this task?
* Will double supplies be needed (one set on each floor of the home, perhaps) to be most efficient?
* Do I currently have supplies that are outdated or outmoded?
* Can this task be eliminated altogether? (For example, are you simply 'collecting' magazines and catalogs instead of reading them? Canceling your subscriptions means you never have to decide what to do with them after they're in your home; the clutter is simply gone.)
The answers to these questions will enable you to have the right supplies in the right amount available when the day comes to put your plan into action.
-- Organize according to age and ability.
Almost everyone in a home can help out with household chores. The trick is to match expectations with abilities. Using your checklist, determine appropriate chores for the preschoolers, elementary-aged, pre-teens and teens in your home. When you're considering the very young members of your family, break a chore down into parts. Usually one or two of those parts will be manageable by a preschooler.
Also consider temperaments. Would your family rather have assigned chores so they know exactly what's expected of them each and every week? Or do they prefer variety, mixing it up a little? Having a family conference at this stage is often helpful. The trick is to maintain that the only choices revolve around HOW the chores are done...not WHETHER they're done.
After all the kids have their chores mapped out, use your household chore checklist to assign the remainder of the chores to the adults in the household. Let me be clear, I'm NOT suggesting that kids should do more chores than adults. I AM saying that often it's easier to start by assigning lesser abilities and work your way up from there. Which means, the adults will pick up any and all slack, plus supervise, and must also shoulder the more difficult chores.
Of course, if you don't have any children, then the adults will do all the chores. But there will be fewer bodies to pick up after, too!
-- Consider the details.
Now's the time to sniff out problems with your chore system. Take a look at what you've established so far and think about possible obstacles that will inevitably come up. Who is your biggest complainer? Who has schedule conflicts that will make it difficult to get his or her chores completed?
Consider also the timing of your household chores checklist. If your evenings are already jam-packed, squeezing in a chores list is aiming at failure. If you're serious about making this work, then you'll need to consider some changes. Perhaps you can establish a thirty minute family chore time each evening right after dinner. Or make Saturday morning be clean-the-house time before everyone scatters to their activities.
The point is, take an honest look at your current lifestyle and figure out when and how these chores are going to fit in. If you don't, that chores checklist will be disappointing you yet again.
-- One more thing...
Aim for improvement, not perfection. You know what I mean. If you are looking at household chores checklists because your home is in disaster-mode right now, you cannot expect it to turn completely around in a week's time. People just don't work that way!
That's why aiming for making improvements (as opposed to perfection) actually works. It's measurable and tangible and gets everyone a little more excited about the whole process. Then you keep on aiming for incremental improvements and you help everyone build on new habits.
One day at a time.
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About the Author
Colleen Langenfeld has been parenting for over 26 years and helps other moms enjoy mothering more at http://www.paintedgold.com. Visit her website and print out a free household chores checklist at http://www.paintedgold.com/Organize/household-chores.html
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