Imagine not having to think about “catching up” on laundry. Imagine opening the dishwasher after dinner and finding it gloriously empty rather than stuffed to the gills with dirty dishes. Imagine your kids doing tasks without a major confrontation every time. This can actually happen, and I’ll tell you how.
Some people love their chore charts. Can I be honest? My house seems to be the place where chore charts go to die. I’ve often tried to cram my 3D life into a 2D chart and it doesn’t always work out how I imagined.
That’s why I moved to a functional chore system, meaning that the goal of doing these chores is for our home to function smoothly. Anything that falls outside of that does not make the list. Functional chores are the lynchpin to any other housework happening. When we have the home functioning smoothly, we can easily get to the grimy baseboards when we need to.
Why is it a 3D system? First, because I use my real, 3D environment (my house) to tell me what to do. My house is my list, chart and notecards. There are also three steps to this system which I call the Three D’s.
Are you ready? Let’s do it!
My own personal motto is that the key to happiness is rock bottom expectations, and I stand by that. I want you to move your chore expectations down to rock bottom. What do we really need to happen in this house? Look around and take an inventory of your physical space. What things roadblock you? What undone tasks open the gateway to a holy mess? Our goal is to clear those.
My big one is always emptying the dishwasher. Dishwashers full of clean dishes make me want to retreat into my phone accompanied by a bag of chips. Let’s avoid that.
Define your rock bottom expectations for your house. Here are mine:
- Clear counters to prep meals.
- Dishes to cook and eat with.
- A reasonable amount of clean clothes for everyone to wear.
- Items put away in places we can find them when we need them.
These are the things that prevent my house from being functional, so these are the rock bottom expectations that make up my chore system. They get priority because they give me the most bang for my buck!
Now you are going to divide these roadblocks into mini chores that we can easily delegate.
Our kids are playing Legos blissfully (or maybe bickering aimlessly) while we’re picking up the shoes and balled up socks in the entry for the trillionth time. Why are we doing this? Because we aren’t dividing our messy house into mini chores.
When we make sweeping statements like “clean this place up,” we can expect horrible results, so let’s not do that. Instead, let’s give out chores broken up into tiny, painless bits. When you give children mini chores that they can dominate within short, defined time frames, you will get exponentially improved results.
As an example, I have a handful of mini chores for laundry. Instead of folding the clothes, I have my kids sort them into piles for each person. (Only towels get folded so they can fit where we need them.) The clothes go straight into the drawers in their natural state.
There’s no limit to how tiny you can make your mini chores…get creative; there really is no silly way to do this!
If you’re having trouble knowing what kinds of things to give kids, think of things that can be sorted or delivered. Sorting things into their right places or delivering them to where they belong are the easiest kinds of mini chores! They are extremely helpful (you’ll find these things needing to be done all the time) and they are the kind I use most often. That’s because these kind of tasks do not require a lot of executive decision-making, physical strength, or motor skills. (Compare to say, vacuuming or washing pots and pans.)
So what about the confrontation and resistance we will still inevitably get on this? (Sometimes it doesn’t seem worth it, does it?) The good news is that intentional communication can diffuse a lot of the conflict we are dreading.
Now it’s time to delegate! Here’s the truth you need to hear: if you’re a homeschool mom and you don’t learn to delegate, you’re going to drown. You need to engage your people in keeping your home functional or you’ll not only stay overwhelmed, but resentment will start to breed. (Ask me how I know.) It’s different with very small children and babies, but as kids grow and become capable of more, we need to require them to help. Kids are amazing helpers!
I like delegation because it’s so ridiculously simple: see what needs to be done and ask for help It’s quick and can be done at any natural break in the day.
I set a time frame for my people when I delegate. I’ll let everyone know I expect this to take fifteen to twenty minutes max. Mini tasks set within specific time frames communicate our rock bottom expectations in ridiculously clear terms and helps people see the end in sight. Knowing that this is not a week-long Chore Summit will help everyone relax.
It’s also really important to note that delegation works best when it’s team-oriented. I do a group delegation about one or two times a day depending on what the house needs. (It’s one of our daily anchors.) I always join in with one of my own mini chores. The way to get the worst results is to throw your tasks at people and walk off. Before you delegate, communicate your needs to your team. Be firm, but kind. The most effective language sounds less like “you need to do this” and more like “this is what I need.”
Delegation helps me communicate my needs and ask for help when I need it; this helps keep our family in a healthy place!
Don’t forget to pour on the praise during and after!