Friday, June 27, 2008

For the Task Master in All of Us

I found out about this really neat website from one of the Yahoo groups (I don't remember which one).

It called Chore Buster and it is free (one of my favorite words). It's an awesome organizational tool for those of us who are not natural-born housekeepers (I'm like a natural-born house-killer). It's a scheduling tool that will take chores and assign them to people and days based on how often you think the chore needs to be done. It can be more or less random as you choose. I've decided that I'm sick of wondering how to get it all done. It's time to delegate! I've actually used it (well, knew about it and set it up anyway) for over a year. The kids are generally cooperative once a list is written down on paper and they have a great time checking off the chores as they finish them. The eldest (coincidentally the name of the book she's reading) will saunter over to the list and just do them (the ones I've bothered teaching her, anyway). For the youngest (mostly not reading yet) I draw little pictures on the calendar to match the chore or the object of the chore. We do NOT do everything I have on the calendar--but even doing some of it is already better then what we had been doing before: a catch as catch can approach. There is still one thing I won't do. I won't clean something (with some notable exceptions) that looks clean.

At the website, you get a free account (which you don't even need to have a password) and get started. You put in the people in your household, you decide what level of work they should do (100%--same as everyone else down to 25% for little-little kids). You can decide if the person should receive their chores via e-mail (daily or weekly). You can even say that a person shouldn't get chores on Tuesdays (in case they have sports practice that night) or is on vacation.

Once you get people entered, then it's time to put in the chores. This was actually one of the hardest parts. Decide what jobs need to be done around the house, how frequently (or on which days), and then put in how much work it is to do that chore. I think I started with easy stuff (lists used from and thanks to FlyLady--whose program worked for me for about two days).

Once you enter a chore, you can also decide who shouldn't do the chore (like cleaning the gutters I decided couldn't be done by me, my eldest, or my youngest--kinda leaving only the hubby). You can also decide which room the chore is in--that way you know what to do when you're in that room instead of running around across the whole house as you go from chore to chore. For our rooms I chose to use the upstairs, downstairs and outside. That way I have a list for the upstairs (for morning or evening time or school). Then I have another list I keep for the downstairs (food times and evenings). My husband pretty much gets the outdoor list, but the kids are assigned to water plants and weed. Now if only I could get them to go out there alone.

One way I found to use the system was particularly handy. Let's say you want a specific chore for a specific person (maybe even a specific day). Well Chore Buster isn't really into that because it's all about spreading out the chores equitably and (kindof) randomly. But I really wanted to have my kid's specific cleaning chore marked out. I created a chore that said 'room cleaning--oldest daughter' and then made it so that noone but the oldest daughter could do that chore. Worked like a charm. Could work with specifically rotating days for cooking or dishes for instance. Just make a couple of chores 'dishes-kid 1' and 'dishes-kid 2' then have 'dishes-kid 1' always be Monday, Wednesday, and Friday or every two days starting 6/25/08 and make it so noone but kid 1 can do it. Do the same for kid 2, only on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday or every two days starting 6/26/08.

Another benefit (which I don't use because I don't believe in paying per chore--though I'd be happy to pay when their old enough to mow the lawn) is that you can put a price on the chore. There's also a selection for what part of the day the chore fits and if the chore should be done by two people. There are also some standard chores to get you started (import chores in the left-hand menu under chores).

To find out what chores to do when, I take the old fashioned way and print out a calendar. Those who are more electronically integrated can use an RSS feed, get a widget for your desktop, e-mail (mentioned above) , or mobile phone.

Perhaps the most helpful thing for me would be to make a chore to print out the next chores. That's where I fail at it! You can even check out other people's chores (if they left them public--here's mine as long as you remember that I'm forever an optimist. I'm in the top 60 for sheer number of chores--before baby.).

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