This question is likely to start a heated discussion among parents. Parents of infants & toddlers will volunteer tons of brilliant ideas, helpful advice, and strong opinions about how they plan to foster a strong work ethic in their children. Parents of grade schoolers will nod politely. They know the majority of this advice is worthless because they tried it and the house is still a wreck. Parents of teens will be unable to say anything at all because they lost their voice yelling at kids to do their chores.
I’ve tried many things through the years to encourage my kids to do chores around the house. Some of these strategies only created more work for me. Some of them were successful; but only for a couple of weeks. I’ve finally settled on a system that works pretty well for our family, and might be worth trying with yours.
CHORES THEY DO NO MATTER WHAT
They get paid for these chores with ROOM AND BOARD…not money. If they complain about it, I shut down the wi-fi and start ranting about the cost of Netflix, water, electricity, gas, cable and groceries. They’ve heard it all before, and will usually start cleaning just to shut me up.
- Load & unload the dishwasher
- Take out trash and recycling
- Carry in groceries
- Put laundry away
- Sort socks (because I hate sorting socks)
CHORES THEY GET PAID TO DO
As soon as they were old enough to stay home alone, I implemented a system that allowed them to make money for certain chores. These are chores I normally have to do on the weekend: vacuuming, sweeping & mopping, bathrooms, dusting, yard work, etc.
I write each of the chores on a post-it note, along with what I am willing to pay for the chore. I post the chores that need to be done on the “CHORE BOARD.” If they want to make money, they choose a chore from the board.
When the chore is done, they move the post-it note to their personal board. At the end of the week, I add them up and give them their “paychecks.”
It took a few weeks to perfect the system, and it is still evolving. I learned to vary the pay according to the time and gross-factor involved. No one was willing to pick up dog poop for a dollar, but they were more than happy to dust the T.V.’s for a quarter each. Some jobs will stay there for weeks (cleaning the garage) until someone is sufficiently motivated by the newest video game release.
WHAT THEY HAVE LEARNED
My boys understand that if you want to earn more, you have to work more. They are learning to negotiate; if they don’t feel the pay is appropriate for the amount of work, we discuss it and alter the pay if needed. They are learning to manage their time and their money. If they want a new toy or video game, they will set a goal so they have enough to buy it on “payday.” They understand the value of money because they earned it and are less likely to blow it.
They are also learning how to clean. They have a long way to go, but I see them starting to appreciate a clean house and value the work it takes to maintain one (you’re welcome, future daughters-in-law).
MAKE IT WORK FOR YOUR FAMILY
This system works for us because they have choices and it is flexible. The work is broken up into small chores that aren’t overwhelming. You can adjust the work to accommodate different developmental stages, and you can adjust the pay to fit your budget. I prefer a simple chore board made from a sheet of paper and post-it notes (because I’m crafty like that), but you can certainly get more creative if it will help motivate your kids.
The best part? I spend less of my weekend doing chores, and more time having fun with my kids.
Do you pay your kids to do chores around the house?