In comes the family chore manifesto to save the day! Okay, my day. I say family, because even though Erik works full-time and super hard, he still manages to keep our yards looking better than the abandoned-house look we were going for the first full year of our residence here. He religiously takes the trash cans down to the street for us every Wednesday morning. And sometimes, if its a leap year, he will even hang up his own shirts if he gets tired of perusing through the pile of clean couch-warming laundry I tend to overlook. (The stars have to be perfectly aligned for me to get any folding, sorting and stashing done. I blame the baby who loves wrecking my piles!) I do try not to ask him to do anything more. He knows the dishes shouldn't be his concern, he knows I'll vacuum often so our daughter doesn't aspirate on that dried rice I mentioned earlier. But this is a family home, we mess it up as a family, and we all have some sort of responsibility to keep it not just habitable, but comfortable and enjoyable.
This arrangement works pretty good. Chores are age-appropriate, and always reasonable. I even took the practice my mom used to do for my brother and I, and decided I would allow a rewards system if things went smoothly. For ours, I just thought of special, but realistic, rewards that I know my kids would respond to. Here is the sample of the chore chart and reward system I created for them.