There is nothing more annoying then some supermom claiming to know how to manage children and a household. I’ve been a single mom, and I am now in a blended family with three kids, so while I may know some things, I never want to be THAT chick. Over the years, I have observed a lot of debate when it comes to allowances and chores. I know households where kids get an allowance for no chores whatsoever, and others who pay kids for doing things around the house or even grades.
Personally, I am a big believer in not paying kids for chores for several reasons. One, children like to feel useful; when they are young they truly enjoy “helping.” As a parent, you really want to cultivate a helping spirit in your children. Yes, even if that means they make more mess or more trouble than they intend. If you start them young, then they don’t have the chance to develop resistance to helping you later when you actually need it. It’s a big embarrassment when you ask an older child for help and they give you attitude in front of others. Back when I was a single parent, I truly needed to the help and couldn’t afford it – I found, ultimately that led to a good sense of responsibility in my daughter.
Another reason to not pay is that it leads to a false expectation of what actually goes running a house. Adults understand that we all must put in work everyday in order to enjoy the leisure, but if kids don’t get that message, it leads to entitlement. Think of it as a long con – if you want your children to be helpful, appreciative adults, they need to value and understand that work is necessary.
Finally, if you give children money for chores, it destroys their incentive to earn money on their own. In our generation, most of us had to hustle for the things we desired. So we got paper routes, we babysat, we did whatever we could to pay for lunch money, or new clothes, or music. We now give our children so much, that incentive does not usually exist anymore.
I’m a big believer in the Montessori method for the little ones – when your child does their work – let them focus, let them make mistakes, gently correct them, and allow them to take pride in their task. Pick age appropriate chores, and be consistent. And of course, if you have some big project or crisis, lighten up on their load now and then.
Here is what we have our kids doing during the day, and during the week.
- Hang up your pj’s and make your bed
- Pack your lunch
- Set the dinner table – Kai (6)
- Clear the dishes, wipe down the table, sweep around the kitchen table– Issy and Theresa (10)
This hangs on our fridge
Once a week:
- Put away laundry
- Empty small garbage cans and add toilet paper to the bathrooms – Kai (6)
- Clean mirrors with glass cleaner & wipe down counters – Issy and Theresa (10)
- Help clean pet cages
The weekly cleaning chores don’t even take 15 minutes. The laundry and pet cages probably take 15 minutes, as well. Sometimes, I give them a choice – do it all on one day or split it up. The older ones usually want to knock it out early so they can enjoy their weekend, and the little one follows suit.
Just so you know, the bigger kids also help the little one pack lunch to avoid frustration. The ten year olds actually stop fighting (for a millisecond) to help him out, and take pride in watching him do things on his own at six. It’s pretty cute to see. They get it – and for a moment, at least, that is beautiful. They make sure he includes a fruit or vegetable, and they set a good example. As for the chores, the little one still needs help putting away his laundry, but he is getting into the habit. The older ones negotiate and trade-off their responsibilities depending on their mood. I tried to get them to do dishes, which was an unmitigated disaster. Next year.
As always, takes what works for you – I hope it helps, and I am open to suggestions.
Some good articles on the paying for chores debate:
Finance Columnist Explains Why You Shouldn’t Pay Your Kids For Chores – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/25/pay-kids-for-chores-ron-lieber_n_6754998.html
Wall Street Journal – Why Children Need Chores: http://www.wsj.com/articles/why-children-need-chores-1426262655