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Looking for a responsibility chart that actually works?  Try this free printable, and be sure to use the tips to make the most out of this method!

There are few things that can set off the Mom monster faster than a kid who dumps a mess on the counter you just scrubbed.

Or the one who drops his socks in the middle of the floor you just cleaned.

I know.  I can feel the blood rushing to my head just thinking about it.  And I know I’m not the only one!

It’s high time we let those kiddos who are so good at making the mess learn how to clean it up.


What you need is a tool that makes it all easier.  Something we call the responsibility chart.


I know it seems easier to just do it all yourself.  You’re the only one who knows how to do it the right way.

But you aren’t doing your kids any favors by protecting them from work.

No one wants to be the Mom who drops their kids off at college and has to show them how the machine with the door on the top works.  (It’s called a washer, dear.)  

Besides, if you teach them your ninja skills at loading the dishwasher now, they’ll be the envy of all their roommates one day.  (Probably.)

So let’s figure out how to make that responsibility chart actually work.

How to Get Kids to Use a Responsibility Chart

If you're tired of making responsibility charts only to abandon them two weeks later, here are the practical tips you need to make this one actually stick!

Filling Out Responsibility Charts

Here’s the main thing that causes problems.  People often look at lists of chores for kids by age, pick out a few that might work, and slap them on a chart.  

That works for the first few days while it’s a fresh idea…

but it doesn’t last.

A Better Solution

Today, look for chores in your house that need to be done day in and day out.  Especially things that stop the flow of life.  

For us, the dishwasher is a prime example.  If it doesn’t get unloaded first thing in the morning, I notice right away.  

(You can’t overlook the dishes piling up in the sink and on the counters.)

That means I won’t forget to have someone do that chore.

Setting the table is another example.  As the food is nearly ready, you’ll realize that this chore needs to be done.

You may have pets under your feet begging for food.  There’s your cue to call the dog feeder to come and do his job.

Timing Is Everything

Sometimes, the nudge you need is in the timing.  

If you begin each day with a set of chores, you’ll develop a routine.  Even young kids will learn that morning time means she should make the bed.  

Floors have to be clean before lunch goes on the table.  

(You can probably come up with a few more ideas!)


Some people think you should never pay kids to do chores.  I see their point.  Do you get paid every time you sweep your floors?  (If so, tell me how!)

Let’s do this in moderation.  Kids should be expected to pitch in without pay.  

After all, they make as much of the mess as anyone (sometimes more!).  

But at other times, it’s good to associate work with a paycheck.

A free printable responsibility chart that actually worksUnpaid Work

In our home, we have chores on a weekly rotation.  The jobs are dog feeder, barn feeder, table setter, and sweep under the table.  

For a whole week, each child (except our 3 year old) is expected to do their chore of the week.  

On Sundays, we switch.

We add kids to the rotation when they turn 5 years old.  Obviously we have to add another chore to the list whenever we add a new kid.

I also ask for help with other chores throughout the day, and these are also done without pay.

Paid Work

Cash.  Allowance is an oldie but a goodie.  Our kids break their money into savings, spending (for the concession stand or anything they want now), and giving at church.

We used to pay allowance for doing the larger responsibility chart (read on!), but we’ve #yearofno’ed this idea for now.

Screen Time.  Using screen time is our current method, and I think it’s more effective than any other method I’ve tried!  

My kids are obsessed with their Kindles and Xbox, but they aren’t allowed access to screens all the time.

(How??  I put passwords on everything that only I know.  mwahahaha)

So when they learn that they can earn some screen time by completing their responsibility charts to my satisfaction, the work gets done well and quickly.  Amazing!

Responsibility chart

Penny Method.  I stumbled across this idea by Tara Holland, a fellow Mom of 5 kids, and it’s fabulous!  

She was listing her home and needed to keep the house clean.  So every morning she’d have kids pull a chore from a cup.  

If they did the chore well in 10 minutes, they’d immediately earn a penny.  (That’s “child did it” well and not white glove perfect!)

Kids could also earn a penny if their room was clean when Mom randomly checks it throughout the day.  If a child volunteered to take on an extra task they could earn 2 pennies.

The children can keep their pennies in their piggy bank or turn them in at the end of the week for a prize.

Prizes could be things like a ride on a 4 wheeler or tractor, a family movie night, ice cream with Mom or Dad, or whatever works for your family.

How to Keep It Simple

  • Write a list of instructions for each chore.  “Clean bathroom” might come with a checklist for “toilet, mirror, floor, empty trash, etc.”
  • Do it early in the day before people are cranky and tired.  Get chores out of the way before fun time.

responsibility chart

  • Jump in.  When they see you working along side them, they’ll naturally work harder themselves.  Kids are resentful when they don’t see a parent actively working. (Remember that even if you’re paying bills, to them you’re “playing games on the computer” while they work.)
  • Don’t make the list a mile long.  Have a few daily chores and others to be done once a week.
  • Rotate responsibility charts, but not constantly.  We rotate monthly.  That gives them time to learn to do a job well before they get something new.  But it’s also frequent enough to keep them from being bored.
  • There’s a good chance the magical day when your kids don’t complain or need prompting about chores will never come.  Don’t let that get you down!  Refuse to participate in their pity party, and hope that your positive attitude catches on.

Responsibility Charts

First, brainstorm chores you’ll add to the charts.  (Remember what I said about the dishwasher?)

Once you have a list of ideas, break them into charts for each of your children.  

You can ask both little kids and big kids to clean the bathroom.  It won’t be the same kind of clean, but the little ones will get better with practice.

Keep only the most important jobs.  What do you want your kids to learn?

Free Printable Responsibility Charts for Kids

Want a ready made chart?  Click on any chart below to view and print.  

There’s even a blank copy!  

Feel free to print them and use them for your own family as needed.  

Call me a nerd (my husband did), but I bought this laminator a while ago and I love it.  I used it to laminate these charts, and now the kids can use dry erase markers to cross off their list.

Responsibility Chart OneResponsibility Chart TwoResponsibility Chart ThreeResponsibility Chart FourResponsibility Chart Blank Free Printable

More Responsibility Charts

Looking for something a bit different…or more colorful?  These charts from Etsy are adorable!

These tips will help you put together a responsibility chart that actually works (for once!).

One day you’ll be surprised to find your kids tackling their work without so much as a reminder.  Well, one can hope!

Want more ideas about how to get the kids to actually follow through on their chores? Here’s what has worked for our 6 kids!

Have you had success with responsibility charts?  Share your tips!

Looking for a responsibility chart for kids? This family chore system has free printable chore charts you can print out prefilled or you can DIY your own ideas. With tips from a mom of 6 for making it really work.