Family Life · Gentle Parenting

Encouraging Helpful Behavior

I like to plan things. Having a plan makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside, much the same way puppies or babies make some people feel. Plans are my lifeline. I love them. So when my husband and I made a plan for our family, we were very adamant that we needed at least one thing: enough time between the children so that the oldest would be able to help out around the house. There are nearly 4 years between our two kids – so one would think that we had done our planning to a tee.


You know when you think you have it all figured out and then you realize that you actually don’t? That’s about where we are at right now. Don’t get me wrong, our SweetPea is helpful on occasion…when she wants to be. Though she is often “too tired” to throw away her own snotty tissue, she will at times be willing to vacuum the entire kitchen and entryway. At least we’ve got balance, right?

Enter the Chore Chart.


This $3 gem from Target (our favorite store – just ask my preschooler) has given us and our SweetPea a sort of direction for encouraging helpfulness around the home. Plus, it’s pretty cute and matches the chalkboard décor that pops up throughout our house.

Here’s how we handle the Chore Chart – we are pretty chill about it (our home motto is to try to not take ourselves too seriously), but still try to encourage SweetPea to make use of it at every opportunity:

  • There are 5 chores that could (theoretically) be completed every single day, plus an open-ended option:
    • Feed Auto (our dog)
    • Pick up toys
    • Set the dinner table
    • Wipe down the dinner table
    • Empty the clean silverware from the dishwasher
    • Other (may include helping with laundry or other tasks that she willingly takes on…like vacuuming)
  • A check mark is earned for each chore completed – and there’s even colored chalk for SweetPea to make her own marks.
  • For every 10 chores completed, she may select one “prize” from the dollar store.
    • Fun story: the first time that she earned 10 marks for chores, my husband drove her to the store. Apparently she thought that she was going to go to like, a real store and get a real toy, so when they pulled up at the dollar store, SweetPea scoffed “um, Daddy, this is the dollar store!” Maybe she’s a little high maintenance.

So far, the Chore Chart has been a welcome addition to our family – allowing for family engagement before and after dinner time instead of faces glued to screens and constructive conversation with our preschooler about the benefits of helping out around the home (more time for Mommy and Daddy to play, quicker clean up, etc.). When I was little, my sister and I did not have chores to do and, to be honest, we were totally lazy and my poor mother had to do everything. To be honest again, I’m still totally lazy, so I’m hoping that instilling a sense of community in the home will help my children in the long run. Also, if I don’t have to put away the silverware, that’s pretty cool.

Do your children do chores? How did you implement them into your family life?

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