I have a number of concrete projects going into the new year — g’bye 2016, we won’t miss you! — including RPG stuff, card games, fiction, and more. But I also have a few ideas that have been little more than vague, unformed blobs. Spending some time pushing these concepts forward is a a goal for 2017. The first of these? Meet:
The Deck of Many Chores
My household is a blended one, meaning kids who started in two different families with very different ways of doing things were smashed together. The routine of responsibility that once existed got blown to bits, and I’ll be the first to admit I did a terrible job establishing a new one. It’s been a few years of setting up household chores system and watching them either crumble away slowly or die a quick death. Either way, it’s been something I’ve gone back to the well on many times.
Gamer-nerd that I am, at one point a phrase popped into my head—The Deck of Many Chores—for no particular reason. But I instantly had a concept to go with the dorky title. The idea is to use a deck of cards to help provide flexible structure that could be worked into just about any system of chores. It would cover children of varying ages and it would not come with directions, but just suggestions so that parents could adapt the deck to their needs. I wanted to make a tool that would not only help with our personal situation but could be helpful to other families.
As you can see from my badly-scribbled first attempt using magic markers on blank cards, this is intended to work to work with a standard 52-card poker deck. Low value cards have chores for young children, working up to tasks for older teens and adults when you get to the face cards. Some cards are intentionally blank so that families can throw in stuff unique to their situation (babysitting, pet care, etc.). The suit breakdown goes like this:
- Clubs: Daily
- Spades: Weekly
- Hearts: Monthly
- Diamonds: Seasonal & Special
You pull out the cards geared for young children, mix ’em up, and let them draw first. Then add the stuff for each age group and assign depending on your household’s makeup and particular needs. So for my big and varied family, kids have to do at least one of each daily, weekly, and monthly task to earn the basic privileges (phone, internet use, friends coming over to hang out) but must do more to earn allowance (scaled based on ages). We’re just getting started with this new way of things so I’ll let you know how it goes.
Once I flesh out the deck, test it, tweak it, I want to offer this to folks in three different ways:
- Free! I will offer a simple one-page PDF for anyone who just wants to use a regular poker deck and just put the corresponding chart of chores on their fridge.
- Pay What You Want! For anyone who wants to download and print their own deck that’s been through the ropes of graphic design and actually has chores written on the cards, they can literally pay whatever they think it’s worth, starting at a buck.
- $XX! I also plan to make real decks of actual cards available via DriveThruCards, pricing to be determined once I figure out the full costs involved in producing a print-ready deck.
You know, Chore Poker wouldn’t be a hard game to invent using this deck …
This is a very early iteration of this idea, and it needs to be fleshed out and refined. The goal is to hit that sweet spot where the cards can apply to many different types of homes (house, apartment) and family makeups (young children, teens, etc.). If you have questions or suggestions, leave them in the comments. I will credit anyone who offers a significant contribution in the final product.
Here’s to cleaner homes, lower stress, and a Happy 2017. Cheers!