So, I've got this wheel on my fridge.
I made it out of heavy paper and one of those little brass thingies that holds stuff together. The wheel itself has the three boys' names on it, and around the outside of the wheel are the three daily household chores that vex everyone the most: Dishwasher, Laundry, Trash.
Once per day, the wheel is turned one turn clockwise. Chores are distributed accordingly.
They call it the Wheel of Misfortune.
Of all the chore systems I've come up with, this one has worked the best. The fact that any one chore only comes up for any one boy every three days (and occasionally doesn't even need to be done that day - like when the dishwasher doesn't get run or there's not enough laundry to do) keeps them from burning out. And each one knows it's fair becuase he knows his brothers have to do the same chores.
We're reasonable parents, and we really don't ask for much beyond this small responsibilty. So when someone refuses to do his chore when asked, it's a Big Deal. Extra chores are assigned. Privileges revoked. Natural consequences apply whenever possible.
"I need to drain this pasta but I can't find the sink!"
"Well, did X unload and load the dishwasher yet?"
"Then you have a sink full of dishes. It sucks when one person doesn't do his job. Take it up with the person who was supposed to do it."
The more they hold each other accountable, the less I have to do it.
Which, at their ages, is a good thing.
My job, after all, is to make my job irrelevant. I want them to be self-sufficient, independent people who don't need Mom telling them what to do all the time or jumping in to solve their problems.
Sometimes this is easy.