As of noon today, all of my kids are out of school for the summer. And I’m already remembering what three bored children can come up with to entertain themselves.

While it might be less messy than the paint, white-out, vasoline, and markers of their toddler days, the constant picking and button-pushing pulls me away from my work and into the role of referee and judge.

One solution that (sometimes) works is the extra chore jar. I found a glass jar and filled it with strips of paper. Each strip carries a household chore that can be completed in ten to fifteen minutes. Stuff like dusting baseboards, washing window blinds, pulling weeds, matching socks, sweeping the garage, and cleaning toilets. Each task is something that needs doing. And something I’d rather have someone else do.

Whenever someone makes my life difficult (by adding work to my to-do list or pulling me away from my computer and reading depositions), then the offender gets the chance to make my life easier. By pulling a random strip from the jar and putting their excess energy to good use.

You’ll notice my disclaimer. This solution only sometimes works. The jar has been known to spark arguments when another child wanted to do that particular chore. And been known to cause extra work for me in the form of instruction, supervision and inspection.

When all else fails, I resort to time-outs in their rooms. Or push them outside to play. Or take them to the park or pool. Or farm them out to the grandparents for a sleepover. All before I return to my desk and secretly mark off the remaining days until school resumes in August.

What about you? For those with squabbling kids, what solution works for you? Can you think of any other uses for the chore jar?

The Extra Chore Jar
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2 thoughts on “The Extra Chore Jar

  • May 26, 2010 at 10:13 am

    >I like the roll of quarters… it works for a car trip, so why not at home? Each child gets a roll of quarters ($10). Every time I have to deal with fighting or picking or any other annoying behavior, I get a quarter. Whatever they have left at the end of the week, they get to keep. Of course you couldn't do this every week or you'd be broke, but it would work for some weeks.

  • May 26, 2010 at 5:04 pm


    I've never heard of this idea but love the concept. It definitely answers the question of what is there to do today cause I am so bored.

    Love and Hugs ~~ Kat

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