You have read about different chore charting systems here before.
In this post, I’ll cover more complex charting systems involving chores scheduled on a rotating basis. These systems work best with multiple, older children, who are capable of many jobs.
One Note of Caution
Let me begin by saying that this system is not appropriate for all families. Actually, I imagine they would drive some people crazy!
But, in families with multiple kids who are good readers, can easily interpret instructions on their own, work well independently, and have been trained to do many different kinds of chores…guess what? They’re perfect.
I would also add this probably isn’t the best chore system to start out with. I suggest using it after kids have been trained to follow a non-rotating system first. Baby steps. The only kids using this system should be those who have been through an initial training period with you, and are really comfortable changing gears — i.e., adapting to a new set of instructions every 7 days.
Advantages to Rotating Chore Systems
With that said, here are some of the benefits of this kind of system:
- First, it offers a variety of different chores to different kids, which breaks up the monotony of one child doing the same thing all the time. No longer will you hear things like, “How come I’m the only person who ever picks up the mud room?” or, “Why doesn’t anybody else ever clean this bathroom?”
- Next, by asking kids to do many different chores, they become proficient in many more areas. When different chores have been practiced for a while, kids get really good at doing them! Kids become really helpful this way, plus it better prepares them to be keepers of their own homes one day.
- Finally, by rotating duties every week (or 2 weeks, month, or time frame you choose) even the chores that don’t need to get done every week can be included. That means, if there is something that only needs cleaning every few weeks, it can be incorporated into the system, too! This is a huge bonus in the rotating system — no longer are jobs getting done too often, or never, because the system you’re using doesn’t work that way!
Like anything else, there are drawbacks to chore rotation systems, too. A major drawback is the time they take to put together and revise every once in a while.
Still, even the time is offset by the benefits later on. Don’t let the time it takes to create a system like this prevent you from trying it. The benefits greatly outweigh the time you put in — trust me.
The Goal of Any Good Rotating System
Overall, the mission of a rotating chore system is to vary the chores that children do, according to how often they need to be performed. This will vary in every single household you look at. Your goal is to make the system work uniquely for you. Nobody else should be able to grab your rotating chore system and use it (assuming anyone would…)!
How To Begin
This whole thing revolves around the list of indoor and outdoor chores you need done around the house. And the ones you want to assign to your kids (safety first). That list needs to be broken down in terms of the ones that need to be done on a daily, a weekly, a monthly, or even a yearly basis.
Once that list of chores is identified, you’ll need to divide them up by the children capable of doing them — meaning, capable of doing them well, or capable of learning to do them well over time. Some parents assign chores to kids base on age, ability, preference or level of experience in certain areas. Personally, I assign kids wherever I want them. Usually, this has to do with how well they already do something, or jobs I want them to learn. But, sometimes, it’s completely random, too. Life isn’t always predictable — chores don’t have to be, either.
Finally, armed with your list of chores and list of children, it’s time to put together an overall family schedule. It takes a while to make a rough draft. Aim for doing one week at a time. Then, do another week (or month), then another. Write everything in pencil, since it’s impossible to get everything right the first time. It’s usually possible to tell how many weeks of rotation you’ll need to get it all done. In our home, I use 3 rotations only (calling them A, B and C).
How To Use it
Once a rotating schedule is done, it’s time to see if it works. Sell your kids on the idea, and begin putting it into action. Review it as you go, and check for things like balance (one kid’s schedule is much harder than another), quality (some jobs aren’t getting done well enough) and frequency (certain areas are cleaned often enough). Add chore cards (explaining what needs to be done) if they’re needed. Watch. Cheer. Support. And keep on training, too.
A trick I also use is to mentally run through every child’s schedule once in a while. I try to imagine myself performing each kid’s jobs and ask myself how I feel about the work load. If something doesn’t feel right, I do my best to change it. I also check in with that kid to ask how it’s going every once in a while.
Taking a look at the way other families do this can be really helpful. So much can be learned just from other families — especially ones similar to yours (in make-up and size).
Here’s an EXAMPLE of a page from our rotational chore system that we use here. Though it represents only one week (“Week A” out of a 3-week rotational system) and doesn’t all fit on one page, you’ll get a general idea.
Chore charts are beneficial in so many ways, but in the end, families have to decide what works best for them. If a rotational chore system could work in your home, give it a try. Run through the entire cycle a couple of times to see how it runs. If it works, great! If not, you can always return to an ordinary block schedule or try one of the many other of the systems here on the blog.