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Why I Threw Away Our Routine Charts & What We’re Doing Instead


One of the most popular posts on this blog is Daily Routine Charts for Kids. It is a roundup of the coolest designs and ideas to help parents and kids move through the days’ activities and chores with fewer tears and more success.

Do you want to know a secret?

I’m done. 

Done with chore charts.

Done with routine charts.

Done with implementing systems without success.

Done with trying to get my family to fit the mold that works like a charm…for another family.

My point? I missed a critical point in bringing those beautiful, magnificent household management tools to light. I failed to include a simple, yet vital step in preparing systems for your family.

Related Read: How to Create an Allowance System

If you want a system to work, you have to get buy-in from the people within the system.  And how do you do that?

Include those people in the planning.

Observe what motivates those people.

Instead of saying, “Voila! This routine system is going to change our world. Now, let’s get after it…”

I would not have learned this finite point without attempting the myriad of systems (all well designed and beautiful to have in your family’s command central) and failing to succeed. Trial and error is an important piece of the puzzle, too. Don’t underestimate it.

So, what are we doing instead? 

My family includes three young boys between the ages of 9 and 3. Each child is motivated differently.

Creating a Chore & Routine System for Your Family

How to Create a Routine & Chore System that Works for Your Family

Observe your child. What motivates him? Is he competitive? Is he a rule follower?

Ask your child about the best approach for working together as a family to get through the day and the week with more time to spend playing or doing something other than fighting about chores and brushing teeth. Involving the people in the system is huge.

Handwrite your system – I know this point seems trivial but having my handwriting or my son’s handwriting on the dry erase board or piece of paper makes it more personal and thus increases the investment in the system. Plus this approach makes the system changeable. Having the ability to shift the system around is key to success. Flexibility in creating the system will help identify a system that works for your family.

Use visual cues – Again, handwritten, these reminders are placed on post-it notes on the mirror and on the door heading out to the garage, for example, and serve as passive reminders (not an “in your face” reminder) to do the things that make our family stronger (such as remembering to brush your teeth on your own rather than having your mom nag you).

Work as a team – no man is an island. Make it about family time and family contributions. We’re all in this together. Mom and Dad don’t get to sit down and watch you clean toilets.

Creating a Chore & Routine System for Your Family

Lean into strengths & work on weaknesses – My older son needs to work on his executive functioning skills while my younger son needs a plan to follow (and, man, will he follow it closely). So, my older son works closely with his younger brother on creating and then writing down their plan together.

Include a variety of ways to contribute to the family. For example, we have “being a leader”, “being a good role model”, “making a hard decision”, “standing up for a friend”, “being purposeful”, and “being disciplined” as a way to earn goodwill and to go above and beyond the simple task list. We talked about what each of these acts means before launching the approach. Definitely important to define big words like “purpose”, “meaning”, and “discipline”.

Allow your child to take responsibility and ownership for his contributions.

What do you think?


P.S. I do love these routine cards for kids if you are inclined to make it happen!

Your Go to Resources for Creating a Routine

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