Solving the Battle of Chores and Allowance

I never thought it would happen!  My kids are excited to do chores!  And, the best part is that we are not paying them for everything that they do!  We have eliminated tears, procrastination, arguments and a messy house!  It feels like a dream come true!

When I stop to think about why this plan is successful, there are a few key things that stand out.  This time I decided to think like a teacher, “What is my objective?  What I am I really trying to teach my kids here?  What do I want the end result to look like?

  1. I want my kids to realize that they should not be paid for everything that they do.
  2. If something needs to be done, step up and help out.  
  3. A system must be simple and easy for everyone to understand and then follow.
  4. Systems work well when they are objective, visible and predictable.  
  5. If you are willing to work, you can make money.  
  6. It is important to take responsibility for the work you need to do.

I am a mom of a 4, 7 and 8 year old kids.  I will say, that this plan might be tough for kids that are too young. As an educator, I am aware that each child is very unique.  Children grasp things at different points.  Therefore, if I were to answer the question, what is the perfect age to start this chore system, I am not sure that I can give an exact age.  What I do know is that it really depends on the individual child, and that I have hit a sweet spot with my kids ranging in age from four to eight years old.

The chore plan that I have been using this summer is actually a hybrid of a few different things that I saw on line, as well as my own experiences, and a culmination of a few last minute thoughts from my husband.

So here is the plan.  At the start of each week (Monday), the kids get a new punch card with 15 numbers on it.  I use a single hole punch to punch one of the numbers when someone does a job.  IMG_1126The neat thing about this system is that the kids get to select different jobs all the time.  I wanted to find a way to have autonomy over the jobs they do.  I also needed to have something flexible that could be done even on vacation.  The child must tell my husband or I what they have completed, and we get to be the judge to decide if it is satisfactory according to our standards.  It is first come first serve on the job.  It is possible for the same job to be done twice in one day if the area gets messy twice.  However, you may not clean something that does not need to be done.  A child can do as many jobs as he or she would like to do in one day.  This is where they get to be accountable, and take responsibility for completing their chores within the allotted amount of time.  In this way, we are also learning about time management.

Everything from setting the table to cleaning a bedroom are fair game.  I even offer punches for helping me pack lunches for a day at the beach, creating a list for grocery shopping, and clipping coupons.  I love the absence of argument about which jobs someone will do.  It is possible that we will be so busy on a certain day, that hardly any jobs will get done.  That’s okay.  As long as each child gets ten punches by Sunday evening, he or she has completed the quest for the week.

A minimum of 10 punches in one week sheds light on the next topic to highlight.  At the start of the summer I had actually stopped paying for chores that were done.  I did not want to continue paying kids for every little job that they did.   However, I noticed that nobody was really doing anything and I was nagging a lot!  One of the core values that I wanted to instil, was that when there is a need you step up; and sometimes you do something just to help out.  Sometimes you don’t get paid.  It is important to feel a sense of community, and help out the family.  Originally my plan was for the kids to get ten hole punches each, and that would make their chores complete.  No money was to be attached.  Then, my husband had a brilliant idea!

What if the first ten hole punches were done just to help out; responsibilities because you live here and this is your way of  giving back.  And then, what if anything after the minimum of ten jobs each extra job was worth 25 cents?  This worked great!  My hardworking middle son Luke, has truly figured out one of my core values that if you are willing to work hard, there is a way that you can make money.

After two weeks, the system is working better than I could have imagined. I keep the punch cards along with the hole puncher in the kitchen by the electronics. I also have brought it in my purse on vacation and been able to keep the system going.  As long as there’s follow through on my part I can see this working for a long time.  So far the kids have made anything from zero extra dollars to $1.25.  I love rewarding people who have taken initiative and are working hard.  IMG_1127

Lastly, the system works well because it is objective, predictable and visible.  It is easy for me to keep track of the punches, so it is always updated.  I dont have a problem saying to someone, “You have only 3 punches, I need something done from you.”  Everyone is on the same plan, which creates a sense of community as well.  The more success I have with it, the more I think about doing an adapted plan in my classroom. I am not sure what it will look like, but I like the basic components of this plan.  The neat thing is that everyone is on board and really does like the structure of it.  My kids are taking responsibility for completing their chores!  It is wonderful.  

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