A jobs program that might actually work

Jobs jar collage title watermarkHere’s the thing about kids and chores, chore charts, jobs jars, and all manner of kids-are-supposed-to-do-some-things-around-the-house systems: the parents always have to get involved. And being involved quickly becomes harder than just doing it yourself (or living without the floor being swept) and the system falls apart. I know, I’ve been there.

(And the worst thing about your system falling apart is that next time you introduce a new system they just patiently wait for your system to fall apart. Smarties, those kids.)

It is a bit too soon to declare victory yet, but I think I may have stumbled on a jobs program that might actually be working. Two weeks in and attitudes are still good, new skills are being learned, and I’m not too annoyed. Amazing.

Here’s how it works:

  • Think up a list of easy, short-duration chores by age-appropriateness. Type them up and size up the font. Print on different color paper for each child/age group.
  • Cut them up and put them in separate jars. (We had a shared jar at first; no go).
  • Each morning, each kid draws at least three jobs. They can choose more if they want, but three is the minimum. If they want extra jobs, the original three must be done first.

Why on earth would a kid draw more than the minimum jobs? Because of the bonus cards! Yes, this super-smart mom put BONUS cards in with the jobs. It’s like the lottery or bingo every day. It’s a game and they just might win!

The bonus cards in our house are:

  • One hour of screen time (there are two of these in each jar and since screens are banned in the summer, this is the jackpot)
  • Popcorn party (for some reason, popcorn is a big and coveted prize in our house)
  • Read for 20 minutes
  • Put one job back
  • Trade a job with your brother

jobs 3What’s not to like about watering the flower pots?

Noah had a lucky streak of drawing at least one bonus card a day for about four days, so there was some crying the first day he came up short. There were also some “no fairs” about the aforementioned lucky streak.

It has happened that Noah drew “One hour of screen time”, “Set the table for dinner,” and “Put one job back,” so he ended up just getting the bonus card — a great day for him. It has also happened that Noah drew “One hour of screen time” and then Owen drew “Trade with your brother” and you can imagine how that went down.

But, they seemed to have come to terms with it and are actually excited every morning to draw their jobs. The first time Owen got pull weeds he complained about it; he drew it this morning and shrugged, “at least that one’s easy.” I think we can count that as a win.

Because a live-action five-year-old is even cuter than a still photo, I present Borealis’ first Vine: Noah waters the flowers. I love how he sits on the stairs to wait for the watering can to fill. 

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  1. I don’t usually comment on blogs but I just wanted to tell you that this idea is genius. I also have a problem sticking with a chore system because it takes so much and input and monitoring on my behalf. This just might work! I can’t wait to implement it! Thanks for sharing!

    • Cristy –

      Thanks so much! I’m glad you think it will work for you. The boys and I have been using the system all summer and it is still working. And though I’d prefer to have everything clean at once, my house is cleaner because we dust or vacuum or wash the glass on the door randomly but with some frequency. 🙂

      Good luck and let us know how it works for your family!