Choose the right chore system for your family

You need to choose the right chore system for your family. In order to do this, you should Know (or at least attempt to figure out) the long-term costs in money, time, and effort prior to starting any chore system

What is the Total Cost of Ownership

This phrase is more often heard with computers than chore charts, but I use it here anyway because it describes most closely what can be a significant factor in the success of the chore system.

The main cost is not monetary, it’s your time

The cheapest may not always be the most economical, if you know what I mean. I’ve seen cheap (or free) chore charts that end up failing because it just took too much time to deal with every day or week. (Esp. with Software programs… yuck! ) Choose the right chore system for your family... and it may well be something free and downloadable.

An easy trap to get caught in...

Don’t misunderstand me here, there are lots of good and free downloadable chore list templates and chore charts out there that are all just fine for what they do. (Fun pictures, blank lines, personalized, etc.) But they can be especially lame when it comes to managing the system itself. (Usually the directions consist of “Tear off yesterday’s sheet when done and start a new one by writing in the chores for today”)

Sorry! go ahead and use them...

OK, OK, it is not gonna kill ya to try one of course… I’m just pointing out where most parents get tired of them, and eventually you will too... but again, choose the right chore system for your family

Criteria to consider:

Usually this is where these systems end up costing a lot of your limited time during the week. Count the total cost of managing the system prior to making a decision.

Think about the following things:


• Is it durable enough for daily use?

• What must a parent do each day to ensure the system is “ready to go” for the next day?

• What must be replaced over time with new supplies?


• Does it use words that I will have to read for my child every time he tries to use it?

• Does it use ambiguous pictures that I will have to interpret for my child every time he tries to use it?

• Does it have ambiguous chores (like: “Help Mommy”) that I have to make up or remember myself in order to guide him?

• Can non-readers/early-readers use the chore chart successfully and independently?

• Is the reward system understandable and simple?


• Is it adaptable to our situation without extra costs?

• Can the chore chart be adapted over time as the child grows?


• Does the chore system require other resources for it to work (PC) or will it work stand-alone?

• Can the chore chart be placed where we need it to be placed?

• Is there a limit to the number of chores per day or time period? Does it essentially limit the number of chores that can be done in one day (because of size of cards, squares, magnets, etc.) or one time period?

• Does the chore system allow you to easily add or remove chores or to have extra chores assigned once in awhile?

• Does the chore system provide an integrated reward system?

• Does the chore chart provide the tactile/kinesthetic satisfaction and ongoing sense of accomplishment that will encourage usage?