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A Chore System That Works

A chore system that has been tested and approved by Life Coach & Influencer Nicole Hennessey

As a coach I often talk about how life can be messy, but today I want to talk about how my house gets messy too! Once upon a time I spent most afternoons keeping my house in order but once Covid shut down the world, I started to see the piles growing around me.

My business was picking up and taking more of my time in between assisting the kids with online learning. I was stuck in an overstimulating and busy household and lost the energy and motivation to maintain it. Even though the “normal” way of life started back up, I still struggled to keep up! I noticed I was feeling agitated and unappreciated by my kids. “How dare they expect me to just walk in their shadow picking up their messes!” The answer to that was a long look in the mirror.

Spontaneity is not the spice of life.

I had no structure around chores except for the spontaneous, frustrated demand of a child to go pickup a mess. To make matters more frustrating I had added two new members to our family, a young mom and her daughter. So here I was living in a house with three women, all moms, one husband, one preteen, one 9 year old and two 2 year olds. It was out of control! The messes, the meals, and the running around was never ending! This created two major issues:

  1. A frustrated and overstimulated version of me.

  2. A frustrated and overstimulated version of each child.

Fixing the issues.

I decided enough of all the negative feelings, we needed a better system. Having tried every magnet chart chore system and sticker chart under the sun with no luck, I kept creating systems that were too much work, so I gave up on those after a week. I also created too many rules which left the kids confused. So I spent some time processing what I was feeling and what my priorities were on the topic. I started with a few simple expectations:

  1. Keep it simple so all the kids understand it

  2. Create a system where I do not feel like I am micromanaging

  3. Make less work, not more for myself

  4. Make it work for all seasons (no matter if it is break or school time and if they are in sports)

  5. Communicate with respect to each other

With these 5 things in mind I was able to come up with a system that has created mutual respect, peace and structure for all of us.

Step one was to answer the following:

  1. What things do I feel are age appropriate and fair for my kids to be responsible for?

Now that my youngest is 9 I feel most things can be done with guidance. Here is my list of priorities.

  1. Dishes

  2. Pickup Toys in all common living areas

  3. Clean off Dining room table and sweep underneath

  4. Put away Dinner leftovers

  5. Clean off Counters

  6. garbage/recycle

  7. Shoes in the doorway

  8. Reset bathroom

  9. What hurdles do we run into when they do these chores?

If I say to clean a room things are always missed and we both get frustrated.

  1. What are the big concerns about how we all engage in the house?

Respecting the home, respecting each other, respecting ourselves.

Now that I had my what’s and whys I got to work on step 2.

Make a set of house rules. I wanted something a little different than don’t do this or that. I wanted a rule and chore system that used positive words and real honesty. This is what I came up with.

Take care of yourself and your body:

Brush your teeth


Spend time outdoors

Get exercise daily

Work on your future (school, work)

Expand your mind

Eat foods good for the body and mind

Get a full night sleep and remove distractions

Try new foods

Always show respect:

Talk to others with love and compassion

Talk to yourself with love and compassion

Choose words and actions that you want to receive

Honesty to yourself & each other

Keep your home a safe & loving space:

All food stays at the family table

Keep things clean

Pickup toys

if you open it close it

Replace what is empty

If you spill it, clean it

A mess you find, do not leave behind

Take care of our things & each other

Do not take things without asking

Find gratitude for what you have

Be considerate of others lives

My goal with the rules is to teach myself and the kids to communicate more thoughtfully. (we do mess up sometimes). For example, if I know my son spilled something and left it there I would now say “I do not feel like our home is being treated with love when you leave that spill their because it could ruin the floor” versus “get over here and clean this up before it ruins my floor” I have made a PDF of my house rules for you HERE but also feel free to change it up to fit your family! On the left hand side of the link you will see a tab for “modules” the downloads are under #4 “Family Chore System”

Step 3 was all about daily duties.

My kids are busy and I want them to have fun too. I do not want them to have an hour of chores when they only have 3-4 hours to do school work, play, shower and so on. I want them to be kids while they can. So instead, I decided each day they would have a chore that takes about 5-15 minutes and one chore on the weekend that takes longer. They will have the same chore Monday through Sunday and get a new chore the following week. My daily chores are based on what most bothered me around the house.


Dining room table & crumbs on floor

Shoes at front door

Bathroom stuff out everywhere

The family planner.

I purchased this daily family planner off amazon because it is simple and to the point. At the top I list any appointments we all need to know and I fill in the kids names to the left with the daily chore and deep clean chore (we will get to that next). Instead of writing the meals for the day on the bottom, I assign a different kiddo and parent to cook each night of the week based on each person’s scheduled activities.

The bonus for me is it is magnetic!

Another one I considered is this one because I could fit more kids’ names. If you want something for smaller kiddos I liked this one. Lastly, if you want a system where your little is working towards a reward, this one is so cute! Here is an example of how I fill out the one I have.

We love an organized chore system!

The third step was the deep cleaning chores.

Two out of three of my kids have ADHD and that makes cleaning a bigger challenge. They can walk in a messy room and get distracted, not know where to start or just freeze from feeling overwhelmed. I knew I would need something that helped us reduce stress and simplify the process. This is how I came up with my chore checklists. The key to my chore system.

Each child would have one room to deep clean on Saturday. This is listed on the calendar. I keep the checklists in a drawer in the kitchen alone with a card of cash earning chores. The cash earning chores are not allowed to be done unless the other chore is done first. I laminated mine at staples so they can check off each step and left blank spots for anything that might pop up. If you are adventurous and want to get laminator crazy here is ONE that won’t break the bank. You can find a printable version of my checklists HERE. On the left hand side you will see a tab for “modules” the downloads are under #4 “Family Chore System”

The fourth step was implementing and expectations of our chore system.

I was so nervous to present this system of responsibility to the kids. Like with most things I expected some push back. So on a Sunday evening I held a family meeting. I told them as the mom I felt like I was not doing my best to teach them certain responsibilities and that as a family we all need to do our part to make our home a happy loving space. I first reviewed the new set of rules I laminated and placed on our fridge. Next, I explained the chore system.

Each week I will give you a new chore to do every night right after dinner. You will do that same chore until next week. I told them some will be easier than others but that is why we will change them every week to keep it fair. I told them on Saturday they will have one room to deep clean. They all agreed it seemed fair and giggled at my wording on the rules. We all agreed to request a family meeting once a month to discuss things that are frustrating anyone or not working.

Last but not least we discussed the consequences of not following the chore system.

This was hard because I like when the consequence matches the crime. I try not to use taking a phone away and so on if possible. Plus two “kids” are 21 and 20 so there is very little I can do as far as discipline goes. So my 20 year old had an idea that we all liked.

  1. If you do not do a weekday chore; someone else can do it and you have to do theirs the next day.

  2. If you do not do your deep cleaning chore; you do not get to go anywhere or have sleepovers until you do.

  3. If you complain and do a poor job on a chore; you have to go over it again and will be assigned the same chore next week for practice.

This has been working really well in my house! I no longer even have to ask most days. The kids just do the fast chore after dinner and when they want a Friday night sleepover or plan to go away on a weekend they just do the deep cleaning chore early. I am thrilled at the success. Please note we do have bad days and eye roles but overall it works well. Good luck to you all! I am wishing you peace, and a cleaner house!

Author: Nicole Hennessey is a certified Life Coach, Influencer, Author, Mother of three, and wife. Nicole is also the Market Director for Sixx Cool Moms of Washington DC™ Visit The Hennessey House for more tips and tricks.

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