Mom of 16 Shares 'Fail-Proof' Hack to Make Sure Her Kids Never Miss Their Chores

The entire Bonell family poses for a group photo outside.
Paul Knie Photography via The Bonell Family/Facebook

When we think of "big"/ families, we tend to think of anyone with four, five, or even six kids. Most of us wonder how they manage it, and figure there has to be a whole lot of chaos going on behind closed doors. But the truth is, there is often a method to every big family's madness; and as a mom from Queensland, Australia, shared this week, her family of 18 (that's 16 KIDS, people!) follows a foolproof chore chart that keeps her home in tip-top shape pretty much year-round. 

  • Jeni and Ray Bonnell are the proud parents of nine boys and seven girls ranging in age from 4 to 29, who were all raised to help out around the house.

    And they actually do. In fact, in a recent video shared to the family's YouTube channel, Jeni explained how she's gotten her kids to be so cooperative over the years. 

    "Do you have trouble getting your kids to help with the jobs around the house?" she begins. "Well, I might just have your answer."

    Although three of the Bonell kids have grown up and flown the nest, there are still 11 children (plus two adults!) living under the same roof, which Jeni said is why "it's really important to keep some sort of order to the chaos that is our family."

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  • She calls it the "job roster," and admits it took her a while to perfect a system that worked for everyone.

    But now, she's got it down to a science. Every three to six months, the family gathers around the kitchen table and agrees to the weekly chore schedule for the coming months. Jeni tosses labeled, color-coded, and laminated pieces of paper into the center that have the chore types, days of the week, and her kids' names written on them.

    Together, they lay it all out in a weekly calendar "kind of like a game of cards" and agree to the order of things. Then, Jeni snaps a photo, recreates it in a schedule on her computer, prints it out, and laminates it.

  • She then posts it on the wall, so everyone can see what job they have and there isn't any confusion.

    It's not too rigid, Jeni explained, because things have to be flexible to accommodate the kids' various schedules. And some nights, two kids may double up on one chore. But the Bonells do their best at the start of the week to plan accordingly, and Jeni writes brief descriptions of each chore so it's clear what's expected of each kid.

    "We don't have too many complaints about the job roster," she said, adding that kids get a day off for their birthday or if they are sick. Plus, tasks aren't too rigorous -- they include washing up after supper or dinner prep and plate-setting.

  • Getting kids to step up to the plate doesn't just take the load off mom and dad; according to science, it helps them develop pretty important skills.

    In fact, a Harvard Grant Study found that doing chores during childhood led kids to grow up and become more successful adults later on. (Hear that, parents? Go ahead and keep pestering them about cleaning their room!)

    Research by Michigan State University also found that doing chores boosted kids' confidence, and that structure and routine helped build a child's self-control, which in turn reduced parent-child struggles.

    So if you're looking for a foolproof way to end the battle over who unloaded the dishwasher last, you might want to give the Bonell family's "job roster" a whirl. Hey, if it works for 16 kids, there's gotta be something to it!