Teaching our kids to work and to have responsibilities around the house is important to Husband and I (like most parents) and with young kids has definitely been a work in progress. We've been trying to find a way to be consistent and to teach the kids to be motivated, take initiative, and to be held accountable for their jobs.
Every parent knows that teaching your kid to work is work for the parents as well. We have been trying to find a good system that will eventually allow the kids to become as self-sufficient and self-motivated as possible (I mean really...what kid does chores without being asked/reminded?).
After asking lots of friends what works for them and some trial and error, we have come up with a system that works pretty well. Or at least it does for us now. It's a combination of a few of our friends' systems with some tweaks of our own.
Household chores is also an opportunity to teach kids to be responsible with money as they earn wages for the work done. I know every one has a different opinion on this. Some give allowance for chores, some don't. We decided to. We pay very little, but enough to get them excited and motivated. And enough so they can save for a rainy day and opportunity to save even more if they have something specific in mind.
This is what our "chart" looks like.
It's in our kitchen under our family calendar in plain sight so they can be constantly reminded about.
It has 6 parts.
1.) Morning Things. These are the things that we want them to do every morning before school. Make bed, brush teeth, pick up clothes of their floor, put away books from the night before. If they do it, they get 5 cents. Simple enough for them to be successful everyday and hopefully develop good habits.
2.) Afternoon Things. These are to be done as soon as they come home from school. Put shoes in their drawer, hang up jacket, hang up backpack, wash hands. If they do this, 5 more cents. Again, simple and trying to teach good habits.
3.) Daily Jobs + Dishes. Each of them are assigned a daily chore that will take them 10-15 minutes to do. These are simple jobs around the house such as vacuuming the family room, emptying the recycle bin, folding towels, or wiping down a bathroom. I have a spread sheet on our computer that has the assignments distributed for the month. This kind of takes me out of the equation in the moment. I am not telling them what chore they need to do and I don't get a "But Mooooom...." It is already determined and they take turns doing various chores. So far it is working well. They earn 10 cents for their daily chore.
They also rotate a dishes responsibility everyday. They either empty the dishes, set the table for dinner, clear the table, or load the dishes. Again, this is working well. 5 cents for the dish job.
4.) The Bank. When they complete a job, they move the card that lists that job into the bank. The cards for Morning Things, Afternoon Things, Daily Jobs, and Dishes already have their names on them (7 of each, so they can do it every day) so all they do is move in into the bank. On Saturdays, our Payday, we add up their cards in the bank and they are paid their wages.
5.) The Dues. This is where it gets interesting. If they do not complete any of the jobs they are responsible for, and I do it instead, their card gets put into the dues. I only put it in the dues if I complete the job for them, not only if they don't do it. The intent of this is to teach them that they are responsible to get the job done. If they don't do it, someone else does! If someone else does it then they get the wages. All money comes from working for it. An important lesson to teach! These are also counted on payday and deducted from their earnings in the bank. It took one week of First Daughter cancelling out her earning with dues for everyone to realize the importance of not leaving their jobs for someone else to do.
6.) Other Jobs. Since their daily jobs and responsibilities don't allow them to earn very much money to save very much very fast, we have provided a way for them to earn more if they choose. We put a bunch of other jobs - some bigger than others - for them to do in addition to their daily jobs whenever they choose. Some examples are cleaning out the car, cleaning the playroom, matching socks, help to make dinner, help mom with her chores. If they do one of these jobs without being asked to, they can write their name on the card and put it in the bank. They will be paid the amount written on the card on payday. This is a great way to teach initiative and how to work to earn to save.
We have been doing this system for a few months now and it has been great. The girls are earning money, they are learning to work, they are developing good habits, and I am feeling some relief with household chores.
We have learned that when teaching young children to do chores around the house it works best when they are set up for easy success. It works best if the jobs aren't too hard, don't take too long, but make a big difference. They get so excited when they can see how nice the family room looks when it's vacuumed, or how sparkling the bathroom is after a wipe down. It gives them a sense of pride in their work and accomplishment when their cards pile up on payday.
It feels great to have a system that's working. At least for now.
It really is a win all around.
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