I’ve tried many different methods to try and get my kids to do chores and earn an allowance. Nothing seemed to be working. Then I realized, I was making it way more difficult than necessary. I needed chores & allowance, simplified!
We’ve tried chore charts. We’ve tried nagging. We’ve tried leaving it up to them. We’ve tried to make chores fun. We’ve tried turning chores into a game to see who can finish first. We’ve tried so. many. methods.
So after all of these methods that haven’t worked over months (possibly years, I don’t know…), I stepped back and thought about it. The solution is often very simple (hence my blog name: A Simple Kind of Mom). To find the simple solution, I had to figure out what it was that I wanted:
1>> I wanted my kids to have money, because we typically do not buy them stuff unless it’s Christmas or their birthday. I wanted them to learn how to save, spend, and manage their money.
In this article, How Doing Chores Can Help Your Kids – And You, Susie Walton, master instructor at Peace in Your Home advises to keep chores and allowances totally separate. She says, “Allowance is one thing. When it comes to chores, life skills, responsibilities — that’s a whole different venue. Say to your kids, “Chores is what we do to keep the family going. We all live in a house here. These are things we do together. We do it as team.””
2>> I wanted help around the house. Without nagging. I wanted my kids to gain responsibility, independence, values, build confidence, and know that they MUST help out with chores.
3>> I wanted my kids to help with a good attitude, although I realize this is up to them. I cannot force a good attitude (but I can model it).
Prior to this recent change – here is what we were doing for several months:
The Pharaoh, age 6, had 6 chores – and Birdie, age 4 had four chores each week. I had a checkbox style printout that I put up on the fridge every Sunday and they had the whole week to complete these chores if they chose to. If they completed all of them by Saturday night, it was up to them to turn in the slip in exchange for allowance (allowance is half of their age. So at age 4 she got the chance to earn $2 each week, he was able to get $3. It was also all or nothing, you can’t do half of your chores and get paid for half.
This wasn’t working well. They skipped on their chores most of the time. She would do a couple just to help out, but she never cares about the money (she offers her allowance to her brother almost every time!). He would only complete them if there was a new Lego set or Egyptian item that he was saving up for. Every Sunday morning, fresh chore charts were put on the fridge and they were discouraged with themselves for not completing yet another week. OH, and part of the deal was that I wouldn’t say a darn word about the chore charts. NO NAGGING. No reminders.
Well, I needed to realize they are only 4 and 6 years old, and they do need reminders.
SO. Here is our recent change, and although the first couple of weeks there was some complaining going on – this past weekend was a huge success. And everyone was happy!
Kids get allowance every week, no matter what. It’s still half of their age, and it will increase $0.50 with each birthday (as in, when The Pharaoh turns 7 he will get $3.50 a week). This will help them manage their money, learn to save it, or waste it on cheap dollar store crap even if it slowly kills me inside.
I can see in the near future of possibly making them put a certain percentage into a savings. But for right now I just want to get this new routine down.
** Update: Now that we have this routine down – they are putting 20% of their allowance into savings (not to be touched until age 16), and 10% towards a charity of their choosing (could be giving to their school, the homeless, a park, etc…). The Pharaoh had a hard time with the 20% into savings idea, but we explained that it’s still “his” money, and it helped to total up how much he will have by the time he was 16 just for saving a couple quarters each week.
Sunday mornings ALL OF US will be doing chores. You have to pick a time that works for you though, maybe Sunday mornings you go to church, or you just want to relax and not do a dang thing! When we wake up on Sundays, we have breakfast and then a new tradition as well (poetry and tea party). It’s a nice relaxing Sunday morning, and then after we’ve cleaned up we are ready to tackle chores as a family.
We turn on music, we try to make it fun. I personally love cleaning so I am naturally happy during this time.
Throughout the week the kids are expected to help when asked as well. Reminding them that we are a TEAM, this is not everyone has fun playing while Mom cleans up and picks up after everyone. So when the dishwasher needs to be emptied, I will simply ask “Who can help me unload the dishwasher?” – and someone always shows up to help. Or I might ask, “Kids please pick up anything on the floor so we can run Roomba“.
The kids have the opportunity to each earn a quarter for doing their chores with a positive attitude. I specifically explained to them what this means: no complaining, no saying “my legs are tired” (BS!), and when they are finished they are to ask what else they can help with. The thing is – and what it really comes down to – is they HAVE TO DO THEIR CHORES.
It’s that simple.
They can choose to do it with a good attitude or they can choose to be grouchy the whole time (bummer for them!). I made it clear that I have all day to make sure their share gets done, and they can either do it while the whole family is pitching in, or they can drag their feet and do it alone (not as fun!) when the rest of the family has moved on to playing or other things.
It may sound harsh, but I promise I say these things to my children with love and assurance. I want them to succeed. I want them to have this responsibility.
So sure, the first couple of weeks they were a little grouchy at the start, but they did their chores.
However this past Sunday was much different. I think first bonding over poetry and tea time helped. When I reminded them of what we will be doing next, the Pharaoh started to let out a sigh and I quickly reminded him of his chance to earn a quarter for a positive attitude, and that the chores would be done regardless.
Here’s what happened. Instead of both kids doing their own chores separately, they helped each other with each chore together. They put away their clothes together (they share a room), they vacuumed the couch together before moving onto the stairs. They organized the shoes together. They helped make each other’s beds. When asking him to wash the windows – Birdie asked if she could do it too. I came into the room and saw this…
… and then they asked their Dad if they could clean all of the windows in our house. They were laughing. They were smiling. They were taking turns with the spray bottle and squeegee. This was by far their favorite chore.
Lastly, every Sunday, the playroom needs to be picked up and organized. And I’m not talking toys shoved wherever they will fit. I want items put where they should go. I’m a little OCD strict on this, can you tell? We don’t have many toys (compared to other friend’s houses), and I have no problem telling my children if they can’t take care of their toys then we can find someone who can 😉
My kids cleaned for a whole hour this past Sunday. No complaining. They both earned their quarter. Birdie gave hers to the Pharaoh (although I told her I wanted her to keep it because she earned it). They were also RUNNING out of the door to go play outside as soon as chores were done. And played out there for at least another hour… FREEDOM, they were thinking!
I really think this new system is going to work. It’s a win-win for everyone. We talked about how they felt after completing their chores and seeing how much they helped the family. They both agreed they were proud of themselves, and felt good about it.
Check out my friend’s post regarding Age Appropriate Chores for Your Children!
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