DIY daily chore board (or social distancing, week-one)

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Hi friends. We made it through week-one of social distancing relatively unscathed. While working from home (my norm) has become a lot more challenging with everyone else home, the kids actually seem surprisingly OK with this new arrangement. For the first time Jonah mentioned last night that he misses school (specifically his teacher and his friend Veda), and I suspect that longing will grow as time goes on, but for now things seem OK. Kristin is getting the kids out for hikes in the woods daily, which everyone loves.

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None of the kids are particularly fond of walking per se. They would always prefer a bike ride if given the choice, but the one thing they cannot resist is climbing. The prospect of finding fallen trees to scamper across is always guaranteed to get them into the woods.

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We started the week with one of those COVID-19 daily home schedules that made the rounds on social media last weekend: reading, outside time, low-tech academic time, academic screen time, creative time etc. And by day two I would say that Jonah in particular seemed to appreciate the structure. The only problem was that not everyone felt like doing the same things at the same time (Mama K included), and there was no good reason why they ought to do so. Good thing crafts and control are my jam and months ago I bought supplies to make a magnetic chore board just like ones I’d seen on Etsy for more than I wanted to spend. I never got around to assembling it, however, which turned out to be spectacular because now we need an entirely different set of magnets.

Do you suddenly have lots of time on your hands and need a way to structure your child’s day and motivate them to check things off of the list? Behold, the magnetic chore cart:

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This took very little time and cost far less than the ones I found on Etsy. None of these are affiliate links and I will make zero dollars if you click on any of them and buy anything. I’m just into sharing things that work for me.

Here’s what I used:

  • A magnetic chalkboard. This one from Bed, Bath, and Beyond was surprisingly cheap and worked out perfectly.
  • Wood craft discs. I went with 1.5″ diameter because that felt right to me (but there’s no wrong way to do this).
  • Round printable adhesive labels. I was able to find some (online only) that are 1.25″ so they worked out perfectly with the discs. Avery provides a template that makes customizing and printing them incredibly simple
  • Button magnets
  • Chalkboard marker
  • Superglue (to attach the magnets to the discs)
  • Mod Podge (if you want – to coat the magnets after you affix the labels)

The kids love the chart. They especially enjoy getting to move their magnets from “to-do” over to “done” when they’ve completed a task. I included a variety of household chores that felt appropriate for their ages (and we can always add more magnets later as needs evolve), but also included home school activities like:

  • Creative Time
  • Outdoor Time (60 min)
  • Reading (30 min)
  • Low-Tech Academic Time
  • Academic Screen Time
  • Quiet Time (30 min)

At five days in I’m surprised to see the focus and interest the kids have in even low-tech academic time. We didn’t intend to use the schedule on weekends, but on Saturday all three of them eagerly dove into their workbooks.

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We bought that Star Wars math workbook for Jonah and when it arrived in the mail on Friday he literally ran to the mailbox and proceeded to complete roughly fifteen pages. This is the kid who (according to his first-grade teacher) won’t stay focused and complete his work at school. This whole home school experiment is a really illuminating peek into the way our children learn and the wide range of ways that can happen. I’ve always been attracted to the idea of home schooling, but one of the things that really appeals to me now that we’re in this situation is that we’re able to spend the day in a way that truly aligns with what we value. When we can spend just a couple of hours a day on “academic” learning, it leaves oodles more time for puzzles and art and baking and fort-building and tree climbing – things that a seven-hour school day squeeze out of the picture almost entirely.

As for chores, I’ve been wanting to do a better job of building life skills for awhile now (mainly since reading this book, which I wrote about here). My objective was to harness some of the desire to help and contribute in adult ways (which we often squash in young children unintentionally, because their help at that age is the opposite of helpful) by making learning a new chore seem like a respectable contribution to be proud of. I asked them what kinds of things they might want to learn how to do, and on Saturday we put them to work (alongside us, to demonstrate that it’s a shared activity, not something dreadful you’ll be sent off into isolation to slog through). When they finished I was thanked them for their hard work and told them that we couldn’t have done it without them. I want their chores to give them a sense of purpose as far as maintaining our household is concerned. At five and seven I feel we’ve started a bit late (we’ve asked them to pick up their toys for ages, but we’ve never structured chores in quite this way, and I feel like we always gave it a negative spin) but I’m hopeful that if we’re consistent housework will become something that we all contribute to.

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After matching each pair of socks Jude backed up several feet to try to make the shot into the laundry basket, which brought him all kinds of joy.

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Headed into week-two I feel like we have a routine that’s working, but we’ll see how things evolve. It snowed tonight (on our first official spring weekend) which is frustrating because if we’re trapped at home I’d love to at least begin gardening with the kids, but I know we’ll get there. If you have other tips to share, please comment!

2 thoughts on “DIY daily chore board (or social distancing, week-one)

  1. Pingback: Reflections on six weeks of family quarantine | Sushi Grass & Fireflies

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