Hillary Chybinski: Getting Your Kids to Cooperate - With Index Cards

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Getting Your Kids to Cooperate - With Index Cards

We are a very routine-oriented family. I like to keep things organized and everything just seems to work better when we stick to our typical schedule. But you know how hard it can be to get kids to cooperate. And I am not a fan of nagging to get my kids to do things. And quite frankly, when the mess and the squabbling starts to build, my voice starts to raise, and no one is a fan of that!

Bucket of Sharpies and Index Cards Help Keep Kids on Track.

After all those snow days, I found us arguing more. The kids would come home from school, turn on Minecraft or watch TV, and I would nag them:

"Did you unpack your bags?"

"When are you going to start your homework?"

"Pick up your toys!"

Finally, I had enough. I decided that rather than yelling at them from my desk, I needed to put the responsibility where it really belongs, with them. They are old enough to do many of the routine things that need to happen each day to keep us on track. Now to figure out how to do that.

Index cards. An individual to-do list for each of them. With basic to-do's for each day. Yes, I could put up a chalkboard, or make a chore chart from a cookie tin. . .but this wasn't a Pinterest Parenting moment. . .it was a "Mom Gets Real" moment. It was not my responsibility to make sure their water bottles made it out of the bags and into the kitchen sink. I have other things to do.

So I put their name at the top of an index card, in Sharpie, in their designated house colors of blue and green (I told you I'm into organization). Then I started to think: Homework, Unpack Bag, Hang Up Coat, Pick Up, Dishes in the Kitchen, Teeth and Pajamas, Read, Bed.

Index Card To-Do Lists

I start the cards in the morning before school. I have a brief meeting with each of them when they get home to add specific homework and anything else that needs to be on their list. Then that's it. They are responsible for completing the necessary tasks, while I finish work and get dinner.

We've been using the Index Card Method for over a week now, and the nagging, arguments and undone tasks have definitely decreased - A LOT. Also, there's barely any arguing and no yelling or freaking out. The boys have each told me how good it feels to cross things off their list. Owen even asked me if he could add something he did, just so he can cross it off. (a little apple-tree there)

Sometimes as parents we need to change our approach and try something new in order to get different results. It's easy to fall into the same old trap of how we've always done things. Keep doing the "right" thing. But it can also be good to change it up a little, try something new. If it doesn't work, you can always go back to the old way - right?

What's working at your house right now?

catch you soon - 


  1. Love this idea!! I think kids need some sort of visual, this would be perfect for a couple of boys that I know! LOL

  2. Love this idea! The cards are small enough so as to not overwhelm kids, and yet they are still very effective.