Millie's Third Commandment for Children reads thusly: Thou Shalt Have Chores, and Thou Shalt Do Those Suckers.
I'm sure my kids would disagree with me on this, but I firmly believe that being responsible for a few chores from the time they are old enough to hold a dust rag is absolutely necessary for the development of trustworthy, competent adults.
Not that it's that easy, of course. At first I spent so much time reminding (or “nagging”) kids that it would have been much faster and less irritating to just do them myself. I'm sure that's what Hitler's mom thought. After nearly a quarter-century of using every motivational ploy I could think of to get the message across, I've become an expert on everything from The Chart to The Carrot-and-Stick Approach.
I once wrote an entry about the “House Points” Chore Reward System that Lance and I devised when the kids were elementary-to-middle-school aged and going through their Harry Potter phase. That system was really a lot of fun for all of us, and it worked for quite a long time (kid-time, that is, which is sort of like dog-time). When the kids became late-middle-school-to-high-school age, though, Harry Potter was considered to be a little babyish.
What became “cool” was video games and Dungeons and Dragons.
Enter Chore Wars.
This site is so cool and kid-friendly that I can hardly believe it's free. You set up an account on the site and type in whatever household chores you want, then set up the amount of experience points (XP) that can be earned by doing each chore. Then set up an account for each of your kids (or let them set it up, if they're old enough) and send them on “adventures.”
They will earn XP for each chore they do, and they will compete with one another to see who can “Level Up” the fastest. They can also win in-game prizes (like gold or jewels or potions), and if you want to you could give real prizes that correspond to the virtual ones (for example, a Golden Dishmop could be traded in for a chore-free evening).
It's completely customizable, easy for even non-techie parents to use and – here's the beauty part, for me – it keeps records for you. You can easily keep track of who's done their chores and who hasn't, how often they've been done and by whom. You can choose to award prizes for the kid with the most XP that week (chocolate coins is a good one!) and even set up special “quests” for one-off chores like cleaning the garage or shampooing the carpets.
If you and your kids are in a rut as far as chores are concerned, give this a try. It may be just the spoonful of sugar you need!