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News

Chore revisions – let the past remain the past

Some of you who have been using ChoreBuster for a while will have noticed an odd quirk – when you edit a chore it recalculates the entire schedule from when you made your account, often months ago, to the present, then off into the future. As chores are allocated based on what work gets done, the new schedule could look totally different to the one you had moments before. 

This isn’t really a problem when you first set up your schedule but as people start to do chores it is – people who had recently finished chores would no longer be allocated those chores and so ChoreBuster would ‘forget’ they had been completed and calculating rewards based on chore completion becomes impossible.

Another side-effect of shuffling a schedule like this is that an email containing chores to do that day may no longer match what is on the website so if some people use the email and others use the website, confusion ensues.

A solution!

This week those problems have been mostly solved – whenever you change a chore the new settings will only take effect from tomorrow onward. The past will be unaffected. If you delete a chore then it will remain on older days of the schedule and stop appearing from tomorrow onward. 

This is achieved by creating revisions of a chore when it is saved, similar to how CMS software does when you edit a page. Each revision has a period of time when it is used to calculate the schedule, which is the time between revisions. The current settings, the ones you see when editing the chore are used from whenever you last saved the chore and into the future.

Caveats

When saving a chore all future days will be recalculated, as before, so if the weekly email has been sent and you make some changes the day after then the issue of emails and online not matching will still occur. This problem should not occur with the daily email as new settings take effect the day after they were saved.

This was a major rewrite of some core parts of the ChoreBuster algorithm and there were some tricky parts that are hard to be 100% sure about. If you notice any strange behavior, please let us know. If it’s working properly but it is more annoying than helpful, please let us know!

If you change the start date of a chore the revisions don’t work and past parts of the schedule may end up looking different. Sorry, fixing that was too hard for now.

That is the main update we’ve been working on. But there are a few more things we’ve managed to squeeze in recently too, so read on for more.

Chore End Date

In order to make chore deletion work the way described above, every chore needs an end date. So when you delete a chore, behind the scenes they are not really deleted, just given an end date. It was trivial to provide a field in the user interface so you can set this to a value without deleting the chore.

This field is not likely to be used often so it is hidden away in the “Optional Extras” section when editing a chore.

Cloning Chores

Often you’ll want to create a few quite similar chores with minor variations. Now, you can create a duplicate of another chore with a single click from the Show Chores screen. Look for something like this:

Be aware that if you clone a chore with a start date in the past that this will cause the schedule to be recalculated from that date onward, potentially making a mess of your finished chores and rewards tracking. To avoid this you can edit the start date on the cloned chores.

Enhanced privacy – no more Google Analytics

Pretty much every website uses Google Analytics to analyze what people do on the website in order to support marketing efforts and diagnose problems. It’s free and the graphs are pretty. The issue with this is that it means Google then knows everyone’s activity on most of the internet and all the surveillance capitalism that implies.

ChoreBuster now self-hosts its analytics system, meaning no data about your behavior on this site is being provided to Google or other third parties (unless you use Google Chrome but there’s nothing we can do about that!). It was really simple to set up, about as easy to install as WordPress. If you’re running any websites and want a free, simple and high performance analytics solution, give Matomo a try. All you need is a LAMP stack – it’ll work on any shared hosting provider.

Categories
News

Survey results – mobile app development

Recently we ran a poll of our most involved users, asking for their ideas and feedback about what features they’d like a ChoreBuster mobile app to have.

Most people want to use ChoreBuster on their phone in order to help with the day-to-day running of the household by keeping track of what needs to be done soon and what has been finished. So the first release of a mobile app will concentrate on that and leave making changes to the chores for the future.

This preference makes a lot of sense because having a larger screen, as on a laptop / desktop, makes it much easier to see more of the schedule and see the effect of your changes. Even the best-made mobile app is going to be hard to use for editing a complex schedule involving a few people, simply because of the small screen.

We will begin working on a mobile app in the very near future, as soon the current batch of work is finished. There will be an announcement on what that work is very soon – it’s a big change and fixes one of the longest-running limitations ChoreBuster has so we’re pretty excited about it.

Categories
Parenting

How to get very young children involved with chores

We can all relate to the feeling of being overwhelmed with household responsibilities. But there’s just no getting around it: chores need to get done. And what better way to do them than with an extra set of hands?

Toddlers are very eager to be helpful. So, instead of imposing your expectations on them, ask them if they’d like to help you do whatever chore you’re doing. Then, when they get involved, aim to work together, so that the child feels like a full participant in the task rather than a slave to parental demands.

One great thing about toddlers is that they’re eager to explore and attempt new things. If you have a 2-year-old who likes helping you cook, let him mix a pancake batter or stir some spaghetti sauce. What he learns today could turn into the skills he uses for his own family someday!

You don’t have to wait until they can wield a broom or mop before involving them with cleaning up. It’s not just about getting the job done — it’s about teaching them how to do it. So if you’re sweeping the floor, offer opportunities for the child to help with what you’re doing.

It’s important not to force kids into helping with chores. The aim is not to control the kids, but rather to develop their own initiative and sense of responsibility for their actions. Kids will naturally want to be helpful if we give them opportunities and show them how much we appreciate their help!

If they participate, even if it means going more slowly or if you have redo the task, praise their efforts and let them know they are welcome. This will set off a developmental trajectory that leads children voluntarily helping and pitching in at home on their own accord.

Where possible, have young children do work that can be done as a group. For example, fold the laundry for the whole household together. That way they are building connections with their family rather than doing something alone as an individual. Chores becomes associated with a positive experience rather than a rushed halfhearted lonely one.

The two-year-old who stirs pancake mix today could turn into the six-year-old setting a pretty table and starting breakfast for everyone tomorrow — and will feel darn good about it.

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Parenting

Why is it so difficult to get my child to do their chores?

We all know how hard it can be to get your child to do their chores. Maybe they are resistant, they drag their feet, they complain and they won’t cooperate, OR they just flat out refuse. Either way, you’re left frustrated and wondering what you did to deserve this sort of treatment from a member of your own family. And you feel helpless in the face of their behavior. And then you think about all the chores that need doing and all the other things you have to do in a day and organizational time seems like an enormous task.

While tools like chore charts can help, often the root cause of the problem is something to do with the negative associations that have been built up around chores and damage to the parent-child relationship.

Remember that a child resistant to chores is:

  • Still a child – children are not born with a need to do chores.
  • in need your help in resolving the issue emotionally, not intellectually or by cajoling.
  • better motivated through a strong relationship rather than external rewards, in the long term.
  • it could be that the chores are too difficult for them.
  • showing signs that they needs more connection with you—not punishment.

When helping a child to do their chores:

  • Make sure you are dealing with your own fears and reactions rather than those of the child.
  • Keep the perspective that no chore is worth shifting from stability to chaos.
  • Focus on your relationship with them and give them the emotional space to ask questions and share their problems.
  • Try to shift them away from feeling overwhelmed to feeling calm.
  • Remember that there is no one else they want to please more.
  • It can be more effective to cooperate with them than to order them around. Teach them how to cooperate by demonstrating cooperation.
  • Make the most of any resistance they offer by turning it into an opportunity to connect, love, and build a relationship.
  • Join them in working to complete this difficult task, helping them develop a positive attitude toward chores.

In many ways, the difficulties we have around chores are just one aspect of the parent-child relationship. If the relationship is not great then there will be problems with other aspects as well. Attempting to solve chores alone will probably not be effective.

For a far more in-depth look at this approach we recommend a book called Beyond Logic, Consequences and Control by Heather T. Forbes.

Categories
Parenting

Age-Appropriate Chores For Children

“Chores are an important way children learn responsibility and gain independence,” says David Anderson, Ph.D., a clinical child psychologist at the Child Mind Institute. “As they get older, they’re able to take on more complex tasks, and they can do chores that help the entire family.”

So when is your child ready to take on different kinds of chores? It’s often assumed that children have a list of “age-appropriate” chores that they can take on. But this is a bit of a fallacy, especially since the word “appropriate” can mean so many different things to different people.

The fact is that chores are not one-size-fits-all. Every child’s ability to perform certain tasks will vary, depending on factors such as maturity level, attention span and motor skills.

For example, most parents agree that a two-year-old probably isn’t ready for sweeping duties, but there might be some who think their child is ready for it. The same goes for a 15-year-old and driving — you may or may not feel your teen is ready to take the wheel at this point.

The bottom line: This is one area where you need to look beyond your child’s age to determine when he or she is ready to take on new responsibilities.

Nevertheless, here are some guidelines:

Baby / Toddler

Assist in making their beds
Pick up toys with your supervision
Take their dirty laundry to the laundry basket
Fill a pet’s water and food bowls (with supervision)
Help a parent clean up spills and dirt
Dust

Preschool/Primary – 4 to 8 Years Old

Set out clothes for the next day
Make their bed with minimal help
Bring their things from the car to the house
Pick up their toys
Make their bed every day
Set the table with supervision
Clear the table with supervision
Help a parent carry in the lighter groceries
Sort clothes and towels for the laundry
Match socks after clothing is washed
Dust with supervision
Hang up towels in the bathroom
Clean their room with supervision
Be responsible for a pet’s food, water and exercise
Vacuum individual rooms
Dust individual rooms
Fold laundry with supervision
Put their laundry in their drawers and closets
Put away dishes from the dishwasher
Clean their room with supervision
Empty indoor trash cans

Preteen – 9 to 12 Years

Keep bedroom clean
Be responsible for homework
Write invitations and thank you notes
Change bed sheets
Keep their rooms tidy and do a biannual deep cleaning
Wash dishes
Wash the family car with supervision
Prepare a few easy meals on their own
Clean the bathroom with supervision
Rake leaves
Learn to use the washer and dryer
Put all laundry away with supervision
Take the trash can to the curb for pick up
Change light bulbs
Dust, vacuum, clean bathrooms and do dishes
Clean mirrors
Mow the lawn with supervision
Baby-sit or nanny

Teenagers – 13 to 18 Years

Responsible for all personal chores for ages 9 to 12
Earn spending money
Purchase their own clothes
Maintain any car they drive (e.g., gas, oil changes, tire pressure, etc.)
Do assigned housework without prompting
Do yard work as needed
Baby sit
Prepare food — from making a grocery list and buying the items (with supervision) to serving a meal — occasionally
Wash windows with supervision
Do housework as needed
Do yard work as needed
Prepare family meals — from grocery list to serving it — as needed
Deep cleaning of household appliances, such as defrosting the freezer, as needed

Categories
News

Manual override

For a long time Chore Buster was fully automatic – you would specify how often chores need to be done and the schedule would be generated for you based on that.

Sometimes it doesn’t come out perfect. For those times, just click on the arrows to move the chore to someone else.

screenshot

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News

Chore Icons

Each chore can now have an icon associated with it, making schedules more attractive and easier to understand, especially for those with low literacy due to young age or disability.

screenshot

At present the icon library you can choose from is mostly household furniture and places, with a few cleaning actions mixed in. If you find nothing suitable for the chores you’re creating, let us know and we’ll see what can be done to accommodate you.

Also if you find the icons messing up the formatting of the schedule, speak up. There may be situations where text-only is more suitable but without seeing your schedule and situation it’s hard to know.