Let’s face it. Sometimes I forget things, like making sure my son brushes his teeth in the morning, or brushing out my daughter’s golden locks before bed. I’ve heard parents complain about the battle to get kids to do their chores, and the constant search for the perfect chore chart.
First, chore charts in general are excellent tools to help you on the path to simplifying. The kids (or mom) know what’s expected of them, and the kids (or mom) know when it’s fine to run off and play (or hit Pinterest). It’s nice to know, ya know?
Second, let me tell you this–nothing this side of heaven (including a chore chart) is perfect. Did I burst your bubble? Sorry. A chore chart is a tool, not a solution. But hey, now you can stop hunting for perfect and instead make “almost perfect” work for you as you simplify! Hooray!
I recently tested out an online chore chart with my kids, called My Job Chart. After a parent sets it up, the child tracks his or her own progress, earning points for completed tasks. The points can be donated to a charity, saved up, or spent on a pre-approved reward. The intention is to teach personal accountability and the value of a dollar.
Here’s what I thought:
1 – It’s free. I like free.
2 – It’s relatively simple to set up, and the kids can easily manage it themselves.
3 – It’s highly customizable, so when my son announced that we should have PJ day on Tuesdays and bank holidays, we easily eliminated “Get dressed” from everyone’s Tuesday schedules while leaving it untouched the rest of the week.
4 – It handles one-time events well, so a parent and child can break certain activities–such as packing for a trip, spring cleaning, or working on a science fair project–into manageable chunks and schedule them over a period of time.
5 – It can handle a whole lotta kids on one account, which is great for those of us who have a whole lotta kids in a world that thinks four is a freakishly large number and rarely accommodates that many, let alone my seven. (Yes, I know “lotta” isn’t a real word, thanks.)
6 – The kids enjoy it. It’s fun to check off their work. They run about with renewed zeal to brush their teeth and finish their day’s readings. Die plaque, die!
7 – While some “time savers” and “simplifying tools” actually complicate life, this doesn’t seem to be one, apart from having to turn on the computer twice daily…which my pen and paper kids disliked, and my screen kids liked. After I set it up, I remained almost completely hands-off. (Simplicity is an important qualifier for The Simple Homemaker reviews.)
8 – Parents can set up customizable reward systems for their kids. The key word here is customizable, so, for example, if I really want to buy my son an X-box for brushing his teeth for a week, I could do that, and I’m sure his future wife and employer would thank me some day. A-hem. If I opt to reward piano practice and completed chores with weekend screen time, I can do that, too.
9 – The system alerts parents to the child’s daily progress, so I don’t have to log on and check. That may not seem like a big deal to you, but any extra logging in for me is time I would rather spend snuggling someone.
10 – My favorite aspect is that each child has a message board from which he or she can send messages to me…and only me. I love getting messages like this one from my four-year-old:
“Mommy, yu ar the bets mommy.”
Do you hear that? I’m the bets mommy.
Here’s what my kids think:
Is it any better than using a written chore chart? Let’s ask the experts:
Mama: Kids, what do you think of My Job Chart?
Twelve-year-old: I like it, because it helps me remember what I’m supposed to do.
Nine-year-old: I think it’s fine, but I don’t like having to turn on the computer.
Mama: Do you prefer it over a paper chart?
Four-year-old: I like it better than paper. May I please do it now?
Seven-year-old boy: (Nods vigorously)
Mama: Why do you like it better?
Seven-year-old boy: It’s just funner.
Fourteen-year-old girl: Funner is not a real word.
Sixteen-year-old girl: Technically the word “fun” is coming into vogue as an adjective instead of its original use as a noun and subsequently a verb, meaning “funner” would be acceptable in this situation. It is not, however, commonly used in the over-10 sector of society. (Okay, so she didn’t say that, but that’s what that heaving sigh meant.)
I used the program with five of my children, ages four through fourteen. My fourteen-year-old only used it for one day, saying it seemed like too much work to log on every day just to mark that she did her chores. Of course, that child can manage an entire household without parental guidance, so I believe she has moved past a chore chart from Mama into the planner stage, don’t you think?
What about the negative side?
One concern I have which may be unique to my family, and which has both a positive and negative slant, is that this is on the screen. Screens are addicting, and I don’t like them. Once they’re on, they are hard to shut off. My son, when engaged with a screen, has trouble re-engaging with the real world. He is still thinking “screen.” I hear that’s a boy thing.
A screen is a child-magnet here. I noticed that when one child is online checking off his or her accomplished chores, two or three other children stand around the chair watching. There is nothing particularly engrossing about a child checking off tasks, but it is on a screen. Of course, the same thing happens in my family when a child is looking at, say, a catalog of bedroom slippers, so that may just be my family. Annnnnd, admittedly, I am an anti-screen nazi currently in (and failing) rehab, so take that with a grain of salt.
The plus side to that is, hey, it’s on a screen! The kids are more excited to do their daily duties so they can get on the computer, check jobs off, and send Mommy a little note. Plus it can be accessed anywhere–library, school, Grandma’s, sitters, home, on the phone…if your kids have a phone.
Do I recommend this product?
You know what, I do for families that prefer to stay connected electronically and who want an easy reward system. I think it can really reduce
nagging reminding from mom and help kids take an interest in personal responsibility, accountability, and money management–amen to that! I especially think this is an ideal tool to keep parents and kids on the same page if parents work inside or outside the home and if kids are in school and other outside activities. Wouldn’t it be nice to know that, even though you didn’t remind him, Junior’s soccer bag will be packed and ready to go when you get home from work and have to turn around and head to a soccer game? Sure would.
Finally, who doesn’t love the “bets mommy” messages?
I’m the bets mommy.
To learn more about My Job Chart, to watch an informational video, and to get your own “bets mommy” messages, visit MyJobChart.com.
Disclosure: I received free access to My Job Chart in exchange for this post…but since it’s free, you can have free access without starting a blog. Uh, that’s a joke. Since I don’t have to remind my kids to brush their teeth, I have more time for cheesy humor. I should have probably put that under the “negative” section.