Learn how to implement a household family kanban board.
The week that I am scheduled to go back to work from maternity leave is the same week that my kids are starting school! It is going to definitely be a huge undertaking to get us back into a routine and making sure we remember everything before we head out the door. Our kids are all under the age of seven, so I need to streamline our morning and after school routine if I’m going to ensure that my husband and I will keep our sanity this school year.
To take the stress off of a dual income family with four kids, we’ve decided to introduce a kanban board and integrate it with a reward system. For those that don’t know what a kanban board is, in simple terms, it is a software methodology that allows people to visualize their work in order to effectively eliminate bottlenecks and see improvement in operations. Basically, for the all intensive purposes of this post, it is an advanced chore chart! (By having your kids call it a kanban board, they’ll sound super smart to your process/engineering friends!)
The goal is that the kids know what they should be working on next – whether it is homework, finding their shoes for ballet or filling up their water bottle for soccer. With kanban, the principle is that they should be limiting their “work in progress” (represented on the chart as WIP) – meaning that they shouldn’t be doing ten different things. Rather, they should be focused on the ONE THING they should be accomplishing.
I’m sharing with you how you can do your own kanban board!
Supplies Needed for Home Kanban Board
velcro (or any removable adhesive)
empty Kleenex facial tissue box
cardstock (multiple colors)
Directions for a Family Kanban Board
Step 1 | Creating Your Columns on the Family Kanban Poster Board
There should be four columns: to do, work in progress, check, done. To Do (generally known as backlog) visually shows you the work that needs to still be completed. Work In Progress should only have one card in there at all times per kid – this should be what they are focused on getting completed. Check means that they are ready for me to check their work. Done means that I have checked their work and they have completed it. When they have a card that goes to “Done”, they get a reward for that accomplishment (more details below). You can add your own columns depending on what your family workflow requires.
I would use washi tape because it is repositionable and decorative.
Step 2 | Create the Cards
Think of work around the house or homework that can be done in “groups”. For example, we had things that the girls had to do before dance class – get their dance clothes on, find their ballet shoes and find their dance bags. Each of these work items represented a card. For this grouping of cards, we had one set color. For soccer, we had a different set of cards with a certain color. I would suggest starting with sticky notes initially until you get the hang of what should be grouped together. This will help tremendously in not having to redo the laminated work cards.
Once you know the routine of work to be accomplished that have regular cycles/routines, type up the work to be done, laminate and cut them using cardstock.
Since our kids were younger, we tried to implement sight words into the cards so that they could also learn while kanban-ing!
The columns for Work In Progress and Check should be narrower than those of the To Do and Done columns.
Step 3 | Add Velcro to the Poster Board
Add velcro stickies to the back of the laminated cards. Add them also to the poster board.
Step 4 | Implement the Reward System
While kanban does not require a reward system, we implemented one to help motivate our kids. Every night, we would review the work that they had completed. Each card or set of cards would represent “tickets”. We would give them the tickets and they would put it in their personalized Kleenex facial tissue boxes!
For us, each ticket represented 25 cents (this process also teaches them about money). The kids seem to love this, as they get to see something tangible for the work they’ve completed. Once they have enough to purchase something, we take them on a shopping spree.
I know, I know – it sounds like I am taking my work to my home! My husband, who is an engineer, jokingly showed the picture of our kanban board and said, “Not only do I have to do it [kanban/agile] at work, I have to put up with it at home too!”
I added velcro strips to our walls so that it didn’t damage the paint when I had to remove it.
Here it is in all its glory:
Summary of Kanban Board for Families
The benefit of the kanban board is to improve communication, prioritize what needs to be done and establish a routine in this new school year with an infant, toddler, new Kindergartener and First Grader.
How are you getting ready for the new school year?