How do you do it? HDYDI

I get that question.  A lot.  It’s usually answered with an, “It depends on the day” or “I don’t really know” or “One day at a time.”

I remember many years ago, when Will was just an infant in my arms, attending a mom’s group at my parish.  Around that table sat many years of motherly wisdom.  There were moms of 11 children, 6, 4, 3, 1 and everything in between.  I’ll never forget Debbie, the momma of 11, sharing with us the two pages of prayers her children said every day.  It was then I thought to myself, sheez, I can’t even do more than a Hail Mary or an Our Father and I only have one bambino.

Then it hit me.  One day at a time.  One baby at a time.  One tradition at a time.  One prayer at a time.  One lesson of motherhood at a time.

I’m no longer the rookie mom.  I don’t need to send me the newsletters telling me what my 18-month-old should be doing this month, how to handle tantrums or potty train a stubborn toddler.  I cancelled my subscription to Parents magazine long ago.  Playgroup happens everyday at my house.  I actually have learned some things along the way.  But, I’m not too proud to realize when I need to reach out to an experienced mom and ask for her advice.  There are many waters we have yet to discover:  teenage years, high school, prom, first dates, driver’s ed, college applications…Yes, lots of living left to do here.  Praise the Lord, right?

Every Monday, I thought I’d share some advice, some life lessons I’ve learned, borrowed, stolen or created in hopes that it might help you.  So, here goes…


We’ve always had a loose interpretation of a chore chart.  It went like this:

Me:  Will, did you take out the trash?
W:  What?  You asked me to take out what?

M:  The trash, Will.  Remember?   I’ve asked 3 billion times in the last 2 minutes.
W:  Huh, didn’t hear you?  Do I have to? [insert whine here]

M:  Get your butt out to the trashcan and help out around the house young man.
W:  But, Mom….[more whining, heavy sighing and bellyaching]

It got old.  Fast.  That, and I got tired of yelling.  The kids got tired of it, too.

Enter, the best invention ever made.  The Chore Chart.  I got ours from EM Tanner Designs (no longer in business), but the Organized Parent has a super close second. Yes, yes, you can be crafty and make your own.  I was lazy.  And this one was super de-duper cute.

Every Sunday evening, I fill in the chores assigned to each child.  When they complete their chore, they get a check mark.  If they don’t do it or they do it with sass, they get an “X.”  If they get two or more “X’s” in a week, that translates to no screen time on the weekend.  No computer, no Wii, no iPhone, no TV.  They don’t get screen time during the week (unless they need the computer for school), so this is a BIG deal.  Personally, I think every child should have chores, no matter how many you have in your household.  It’s the first small step in learning responsibility.  I typically don’t assign chores for Saturday because of the various activities we have going on and the only big Sunday chore is laundry.

Clare is usually paired with somebody to assist, so I’m not super hard on her.  But, the school-age kids don’t get any slack.  For the most part, they do a great job of doing their chores.  We’ve adjusted and tweaked it since we started the system back in January.  Oh, and NO they do not get paid to do chores.  We call them “Citizen of the Household” or “CoH” duties.  It’s just the tax you pay, living at home.  We all have to pitch in and help.  We are considering giving them a small allowance for above and beyond chores.  But, that’s another Monday HDYDI post, now isn’t it?

So far our grade on the chore chart?  Winner winner chicken dinner.


  1. Vanessa on April 26, 2011 at 2:29 am

    I think the HDYDI Mondays are a fantastic idea! I've slowly been figuring out that the only way to make it through this mom gig is to beg, borrow, and steal any helpful hints to get through the day. I find myself wanting to call you often for advice. If you have any good suggestions for authors of behavior books or any suggestions for dealing with those first tantrums and terrible defiance that starts to happen right before 2yo hit, we're right in that spot and totally flabbergasted as to how to deal with it without just yelling all the time.

  2. The Ball's Blog on April 26, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    I just ordered my chore chart 🙂 Screen time is the hardest! My soon-to-be-five-year-old is obsessed! I know, it's our fault, but I need to figure out a way for him to become more attached to his legos and less attached to the screen. Lauryn is just into her dolls. Thanks and lot of love from Illinois!

  3. Kathryn on April 27, 2011 at 2:01 am

    @V, you know you can call or text anytime girl. Anytime. One of the best books I've found is "Parenting with grace: Catholic parent's guide to raising almost perfect kids". There's some good stuff in there. I don't agree with 100% but I like it. Oh, tantrums are fu-un. I need to make that next Monday's post. I love your stuff on BH!

    @Molly, yes! When is your trip to A-town?

  4. HDYDI: After School Chore Checklist on August 20, 2012 at 7:31 am

    […] After School Chore Checklistby Kathryn on August 20, 2012You all know what a fan I am of our chore chart. It is heaven. We gave it a much-needed break this summer, but it is back in full session now that […]

  5. HDYDI: Get Ready for a New School Year on August 12, 2013 at 9:23 am

    […] part of a team will pay dividends for the rest of their life. Sloths need not apply at our house. Here’s how we organize the COH duties. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, chores start at age two and COH duties are a non-paying […]

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