Our busy family of five keeps organized as long as our schedule is managed and under control. A messy schedule results in a messy family life. I use technology to create a workflow and make sure everyone understands their responsibilities. Listed below are some of my tips on how to use technology to create a family workflow. To see my family using our family chore tech in action, check out this video:
1. Create a digital chore list: Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel from Office 365 Home Premium are two of my favorite tech tools for keeping the family on the straight and narrow. Staying on top of things is much easier when the family is organized and everyone knows their responsibilities. Using the Office 365 Home Premium child’s chore chart template, I can individually color everyone’s duties.
We put homework on the chore list because it was a central way to keep track of daily duties. They can then either use the mouse or the stylus on our touch screen Windows 8 devices to check chores off when complete so my husband and I know what has been completed and who needs a reminder. Because I store the chore list on SkyDrive, we can access it on any device (no need to print a chore list anymore – that always seems to get lost!). I use the Excel To-do lists to help me manage family projects.
There are so many great Office 365 Home Premium templates to choose from, I am always finding new ones to use to help organize my family life. I also store my Excel To-do lists on SkyDrive so I can access them across my devices, and update them wherever I am!
2. Tie completing chores to screen time or other activities: Some kids get their allowance for completing chores, but in our house we decided instead to use incentives. Our kids value screen time and other special activities, so we set up a system that allows them to earn time with electronics by doing chores. One of my kids enjoys Minecraft, so he knows to do his daily chore first and then check it off on the To-do list before he can play his game. My other young son likes to go to the Radio Shack hobby section and buy electrical supplies for experiments. He earns money to buy his supplies only after checking off his chores on the list.
My teen, on the other hand, likes to choose his screen time depending on how he feels that day and how much homework he may have – so he knows to check off his chores before he socializes online or plays games on the family PC.
3. Add music to liven up the chores: Doing chores seemed to be a strain for my kids… until we suggested they listen to music while doing their work. All three kids lightened up and started dancing to the music while working. My teen can rock out to his favorite group, Green Day, while cleaning the dishes and one of my hip hop obsessed twin 10 year-old boys can listen to hip hop while he “hops” around mopping the floor after dinner. My other twin son prefers to vacuum, so he decided to listen to music on his MP3 player using earphones. We use a few different platforms to manage our family’s music from our Windows 8 PC. My favorite Windows 8 music apps are:
- Slacker Radio: While I prefer my kids listen to the Slacker Radio Classical Music light station, they prefer classic “rock” instead. We all enjoy listening to the Slacker Radio festival channel. So even though we can’t go to festival like SXSW Music, that does not mean we can’t feel like we’re right there just by listening to the music on our PC!
- iHeart Radio: If we feel like listening to the radio, we use the iHeart Radio app to listen to our favorite local stations.
- Xbox Music: We enjoy Xbox music to stream songs on our Windows devices.
- Shazam – We installed the Shazam app on our Windows devices to help identify the names of songs we don’t recognize.
How do you manage your family chore list and what incentives do you use?