I have heard many debates over the years about kids doing chores. Should they be given chores? Should they not be given chores? Should they be paid? Should they be chores or just expectations?
Having raised kids for almost a quarter century, I have had strong opinions on this very subject and I have not swayed much over the years. I think there should be definite expectations for kids around the house – that are not chores. I think kids should have chores. I also think they should get some sort of compensation based on their age, the chore and the household finances.
I am not one to think that my way is the best way, it is just what works for us.
First off, I believe kids need expectations. When should that start? At about a year. A year!? Yes, a year. If a child is old enough to take a toy or book off of a shelf or out of a basket, then that child is old enough to put it away. If a child can undress herself, then she is old enough to put the dirty clothes in the laundry basket. My children had a lot of small expectations when they were very young. I taught them to pull their blankets up to “make the bed” in the morning and after naps. I expected them to bring their dirty dishes to the sink or counter once they were walking. They put their dirty clothes in the hamper and helped me put their clean clothes away. They are capable of many things at that age and still so eager to help.
Once they were a little older, around 2, I began to give them jobs. They could bring the bathroom garbage to the kitchen and dump it into the kitchen garbage can (with minimal help). They were able to feed the dog. They could even change the toilet paper roll.
As they grew, their chores grew. It was not until around age 5 that I actually gave the kids any sort of weekly chore expectations. At first they were simple chores and as they grew they began to take on bigger chores. Any time a new chore was given, it often felt that it was harder for me to give them the chore than it was to just do it myself. I realized that there was a definite learning curve with all of the individual jobs and it was important to endure the 1-2 weeks of teaching and monitoring the job being done before expecting it to be done right. There were many times that I just wanted to do the job myself or have one of the older kids do it, but it was always worth it to hang in there and let the next child learn the task.
When the children were fairly young, I did not give any financial compensation for their hard work. Sometimes I’d give them a candy or even just a high five. At times I would take a minute when we passed by a Dollar Store and talk to the child about how well she has been helping out at home and let her pick out a toy. But I did not actually give money for chores until around 5 years old. This was my magic age and partly because school had started by then and it gave me an opportunity to teach the children how to count coins.
To be fair, there have been many times over the years that our finances were pretty humble. We simply did not have the ability to give the kids several dollars per week for their chores. This was particularly the case when we had three teenage daughters and three kids under the age of 5 at the same time. Because things were so tight, we did not pay the kids for their chores, instead we allowed them the opportunity to earn money for going above and beyond. This made it possible for them to do additional jobs to earn money to go to the movies or something with their friends.
Regardless of what we were doing at any point in time, I have often found that it all hinges on me. I am the one that needs to decide who is expected to what and then police the expectations. And this is my downfall… I have had almost 25 years of having children and I have had many different ways of managing chores. Some have been effective. Some have been ineffective. Some have been way too confusing. Once again, I am rethinking the chore charts… I think this is the third time this year. What better time to start a new chart than the new year?
I am on the way to creating another chart. This will be a hybrid of our favorite chart to date that I created a few months ago. The only significant change is that I am going to a monthly system instead of weekly. I believe it will make my job policing the chores a little easier.
While on the search for monthly chore chart ideas I came upon this fantastic website – https://www.chorecharts.net – with several free chore chart templates as well as chore bucks. I’m kind of excited because I have not really thought about doing chore bucks before… hmmmm… now the wheels are really turning.