Control the Clutter with a Chore Chart for Kids

  • A mother and her young daughter do chores together at home.
Do you have young children and sometimes feel like your house is a mess? Let’s ask that question another way: Are you human?

Shoes, backpacks, water bottles, hairbands, toy cars, socks, books, crayons, games… you name it. If you’ve got it, chances are it spends a lot of time on your floors, counters, or (worst of all) stairs.

The first step to an organized home is to get rid of—or put into storage—items that you no longer use on a daily basis. That’s a big job. Happily, you have free labor (if you don’t count the cost of ice cream) just begging to be kicked off their devices and put to work. Here’s how to motivate the troops.

Break the Job Down

If you’ve been a parent longer than two minutes, you already know that you won’t get great results if you gently (and only once) ask your children to please clean their rooms and put all of their things away and also clean the playroom. You may as well be asking them to do your taxes.

The key is to break the work down into bite-sized, manageable tasks and present the information in a fun way—with incentives. The options are endless, really. You could start with a large poster board and some colorful sharpies. Label the chart something catchy, like: “Emma and Noah Will Clean for Ice Cream."

Then, make a checklist of tasks that take no longer than 10 to 15 minutes each. If your goal is to get the playroom organized, it might include steps like:

Take all books off shelves
Wipe shelves clean
Separate books into two piles—keep and get rid of
Box the books we’re getting rid of and put the rest back on shelves

There’s actually a term for this; it’s called “chunking,” and it builds executive function, but more importantly it gets your house clean! Before you know it, you’ll have five boxes ready for Goodwill or your next garage sale. Incentives are up to you. You could assign each small task a small monetary amount. Or you could say that every time five tasks are done you’ll go to a favorite playground or have a family movie night.

You could, of course, also use a chore chart for more routine tasks like making beds, unloading dishwashers, cleaning the hamster cage etc. And don’t worry if you’re not the creative type. That’s what Pinterest is for.

Age Appropriate Chore Chart

Obviously, you’ll want to adjust your expectations—and your incentives—depending on the age of your children. If they’re in middle school, for example, they could plan and hold a garage sale themselves—or even list items for sale on eBay. You could even work out a deal where they get a cut of the profits.

If your children are very young, your chore chart might just have pictures of things like brushing teeth, getting dressed and putting shoes away. 

The Stuff that Stays

There are always times when it just doesn’t make sense to get rid of stuff. Maybe the baby swing and stroller are taking up too much room, but you plan to have another child. Or maybe you have family antiques that you know you’d like to use one day, but just don’t have the room for right now.

At times like those, it can make sense to consider renting a self storage unit. At StorageMart, we offer clean, well-lit storage units in a variety of sizes—all of which can be rented on a month-to-month basis. That way, you have everything you need when you need it and a clutter-free home to enjoy.

About Sarah Little

Sarah Little, Marketing Director at StorageMart, holds a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration. She serves as Vice President on the Board of Directors for the Central Missouri Foster Care & Adoption Association, a non-profit group dedicated to improving the lives of children.

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