It’s 7:30 am. I hear one of my kids racing up the stairs…
“Mom, I cleaned my room, brushed my teeth, and did my school stuff. What’s my chore?!”
This is a normal morning for us now. Am I dreaming?!?! Could my kids really be that independent?!
My goodness, a lot has changed in just a year.
THE SIMPLE SECRET
I was worried that when my third child came, I would be overwhelmed with taking care of three small children. So, well before her birth, I set out to make my older two more self-reliant.
I stumbled upon the perfect secret. No surprise coming from me…a checklist. One that tells my kids what they need to do without me telling them five thousand times.
Here are our messy marked up checklists in action.
THE TOP 5 AMAZING BENEFITS TO A KIDS’ CHECKLIST
1. The most surprising thing? They love them!
It gives them purpose and makes them feel accomplished at the end of the day. My 7-year-old has even shared that he’s thankful for them. Um, what?!
2. It’s SO MUCH easier on mama.
They help around the house more and I’m not spending my time doing things for them that they can easily do themselves.
3. It eliminates boredom.
When we are sitting around for yet another snow day or during a school break, they still have something to do without asking me or telling me that they are bored.
4. It promotes our values.
It has enabled us to focus on activities that we value as a family like exercise and learning.
5. It’s built in money management.
And finally, it’s an easy way to do allowance so that we can begin teaching them how to manage their money. They still remind me to give it to them a thousand times, but at least it’s an easy way to keep track of it!
FIRST, WHERE TO START
In the beginning, I just put some simple morning routine items on the list. We were doing these things together, but I needed them to be able to do them alone as well.
So clothes, breakfast, brush teeth, and make bed went on the list. They were already doing a chore every day, so I added that on as well. Those items were plenty at the start.
The Advanced Versions
Over time, the list has slowly grown more extensive (that compound effect, see the pic below!). Lunch, homework, and other tasks have been added. We still help them with some items, but the difference is that they are their responsibility.
NEXT, SET THE REWARDS
IF the kids finish their checklists for the day, they are rewarded with several things. Remember, you can make these whatever works for you! My children enjoy…
When 7:00 pm rolls around, if they have everything done, they enjoy screen time before bed.
My 7-year-old earns 50 cents and my four-year-old daughter earns 25 cents a day. She has fewer responsibilities right now, but her amount will rise when she enters kindergarten.
REMEMBER, BE PATIENT
We struggled from time to time in the first few weeks of implementing this. I was expecting more from them, and I was having to put more effort in to teach them how to be more independent.
We were all a little frustrated. But I decided to stick it out and stay consistent. I am so glad I did. Short term sacrifice for long term gains! Just like potty training! Though, thank goodness, less messy at least!
BUT, GO EASY FROM TIME TO TIME
Now, when the weather is nice they usually play outside in the evenings. The list doesn’t always get done, and I don’t mind. I love that they are outside!
On those days, I just make sure that the necessary is done. We also don’t worry so much about them on weekends, as we are usually busy!
SO, GIVE IT A TRY
I hope you love these checklists as much as we do! As my kids get older, I’m realizing that the systems we use matter a lot with how healthy and happy we are as a family!
The last checklist below is the one we use when we don’t have school! In the summer this baby saves my sanity! They must complete it before screens or playing with the neighbors. At least I know they get clothes on and brush their teeth every day!
Sign up to pick up your kid’s first checklist AND our older kids checklists! As a bonus, you’ll receive our “chores for money sheet” as well!
What do you do with your kids to make them more independent? I’d love to know!
Further Resources For Helping Kids Be More Independent:
“The Clipboard System” – This is a very similar system (with blank printables!) and the reason I started using clipboards and hanging our checklists up!