Job Descriptions for Kids


Visit Rocks in My Dryer for a fabulous tip on organizing digital photos (no more double or triple orders!).

My “Works for Me Wednesday” tip is a variation on a tip I read in one of the 5000 books I have on simplifying my life. (Of course, if my life ever got simplified enough that I could find the time to read them, I wouldn’t need to read them!)

I’m a big believer in giving kids chores, beyond just keeping track of their own stuff and their own room. They’ve got to learn this stuff somewhere, and I’d rather not start when they’re already huffy, eye-rolling teenage girls.

But we always had trouble remembering who was supposed to do what, when. I got pretty weary of asking, “Whose turn is it to set the table?” The girls would answer together, arms outstretched and fingers pointing at one anothers’ heads: “Hers!”  Then, “Nu-unh, it’s yours!”  You know the routine.

Another problem was that I never remembered to actually make them do things.  I didn’t like reminding them, and it was usually easier to just do it all myself.

A couple of years ago, I read the concept of giving kids job titles (I can’t recall which book deserves the credit).  Sounded like a good idea to us.  We’ve been doing it ever since, and it’s amazing!

First, we grouped all the chores into four “job descriptions,” outlined below:

1. Assistant Chef: She is responsible for setting the table each night for supper. She’s also expected to offer her help to the head chef (our little one has discovered that she loves to peel carrots).  And she helps make the grocery list and plan the meals each week.

2. Groundskeeper: She sweeps the front porch & walkway, and the back deck, once a week. She also helps tend to the garden and the indoor plants.

3. Cleanup Crew: She empties the trash cans all around the house the day before trash pickup. And she is expected to help with dusting, vacuuming, and sweeping inside as needed.

4. Zookeeper: With two cats and a rabbit (and, until recently, a fish), we have a lot of critters to tend to. The zookeeper is solely responsible for keeping water and food bowls filled, and the pet areas cleaned up (why, oh why, do the cats have to kick the clean litter out of their boxes all over the floor?). And if a pet has left a toy out (we have yet to teach the cats to put their mice and fuzzy balls away), it’s up to the zookeeper to deal with it.

Since we have two girls, each girl has two job descriptions at a time, and we rotate once a month. Now, when we notice one of the cats kicking an empty food bowl across the floor, all we have to do is call out, “Zookeeper!” Of course, a major part of this plan is that we’re not supposed to remind them of their duties.  The girls are pretty good at keeping track, and if they aren’t, it’s all written on the wall calendar anyway. They have enough petty things to quibble over, so we figured removing one source of dispute was a good plan.

At the end of each month, we take the girls out to a fun dinner (usually at their favorite malt-making, jukebox-playing diner) and talk about how well they did–always accentuating the positive, of course. At the end of the meal, they get their allowance for the month, which is based on how well they did their jobs.

Now our house is cleaner (mostly), we have less arguments, and the girls are learning to be responsible.

Works for me!


10 thoughts on “Job Descriptions for Kids

  1. Jamie – Hey, those jobs don’t rotate. They’re perennially mine.

    Mummymac – Glad to have you!

    Everyone – Let us know if you come up with other job descriptions. I think it would be interesting to hear, since each family has different things that need to be done (not everyone needs a Zookeeper!).

  2. Tamara –

    Nice to meet you! Just so you know, 3-year-olds love to dust. Technically, they do not actually have all that great of an effect on the dust, so you’ll probably have to follow right after them, but the point is to teach them the habit, so go for it!

    They also like to sweep (same qualification as the dusting) and they can certainly put throw pillows back in place, things like that.

    Can you tell I’m extremely lazy, so I want to get my kids to take over as soon as humanly possible?


  3. Pingback: Following Closely « for better, for worse, for life

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