Chores and Allowance. Two issues that I think many families struggle to figure out. What chores are appropriate? How do you get your kids to do their chores? Should you pay them for it? Why do kids need to get paid money at all? I won’t claim to have the perfect answer to all of those questions, but I will share how we do chores and allowance in our house. And so far, it has worked for us. At the very least, it may spark some discussion and ideas for your own family.
It may first help you to understand who our family is. My husband works full-time, both at home and at the office, and many days he travels across the country. His hours are pretty flexible, but he definitely puts in a lot of time at his job. I am mostly a stay-at-home mom; after teaching special ed for 12 years, I now teach fitness classes at a gym so that I can work but still be available for the kids. (Daycare is expensive, yo.)
Hunter is our oldest. At 16, she is a junior in high school, participates in the marching band, takes AP and Honors classes, and does nerdy girl things that nerdy girls do. Kaiden is 8, starting 3rd grade. He takes martial arts classes twice a week and would watch YouTube videos of Kids React and DanTDM all day if he could. Aren is 11 months right now, and her hobbies include drinking milkies and destroying the kitchen cabinets where we keep our plastic storage bowls. She doesn’t make chores easier on any of us.
I’ve always had the idea that children should help around the house. Not only do they need to know how to cook and clean and do things as an adult, but our family is a team and we work together to make the house run. However, it wasn’t until recently that I figured out what type of chore system works best for our family. In the past, the kids had chore charts with different tasks on different days. Somehow that system always ended up failing for one reason or another – usually because something would come up on a Tuesday and those chores would need to get skipped and then Wednesday would be a mess, and then Thursday I would be fussing about things not getting done….and there you go. Chaos and disaster.
So we decided that we would have chores on specific days, but they wouldn’t be attributed to any particular person. They were just the things that needed to get done that day. There are also daily chores that must happen EVERY day, and everyone contributes to those. And finally there are monthly chores that we basically just need to be reminded to do before we say “EW, gross! Somebody needs to clean this!”
We all share the chores, because we are a team. If hubby works late and Hunter has band practice, then Kaiden and I pick up most of the chores. If I am teaching a class at night, then the rest of the family does what is needed. I honestly try to do what I can while the kids are at school and Arien is working, but Aren occasionally sabotages my plans. At the end of the day, we all work together to do what we need to do.
Here’s what our chore chart looks like:
Green Succulents Weekly Schedule Planner (printable PDF format)
We sat down as a family to determine our tasks, so that everyone had input. Everyone makes their own beds, everyone cleans their own bedrooms, and everyone cleans their own bathrooms (we have 4). I do a load of laundry almost every day, so that it doesn’t pile up. Hunter is mostly responsible for her own laundry, but I’ll occasionally ask for her to bring up whites to add to the rest of the load. The rest is divided up among all of us. Dishes are mostly Hunter’s chore (since Arien or I usually cook), but we all try to keep the sink empty during the day. The dishwasher runs after dinner and I like to put away dishes in the morning.
How do you make sure everyone contributes to chores? That is explained further with allowances.
Allowance is another area where I struggled for many years. I didn’t get much of an allowance when I was younger, and I didn’t know how to approach it with my own kids. I wanted them to learn how to manage money, but I also felt like they should do chores without expecting payment. So how do we balance chores and allowance? We simply don’t pay them to do chores.
Let me explain. My kids do chores because they are part of our family. I don’t get paid to cook and wash dishes and scrub toilets, and neither do they. That just doesn’t happen in real life. However, we have a portion of our budget set aside for them, and they do get an allowance. It is based on their age – so Kaiden gets $8 per week and Hunter gets $16 per week. This money is THEIR money. They are allowed, within reason, to spend or save their money however they like. If they want to buy blind bags at the Target checkout, they can. If they want to save up for a fancy car, I’ll encourage it. However, if they want to do things such as go to the movies (outside of a planned family activity), buy clothes or shoes outside of the allotted school clothing budget, buy a gift for a friend or family member, or go to the mall with friends — they spend their own money. We have a family budget with different amounts set aside for specific categories. We feed our kids, buy necessities, and pay for essential school supplies. We have money budgeted for family meals and family fun. Any extras come out of the kids’ wallets if they want to do additional activities. And if they can’t afford something they want…. then that’s sad for them. They have really started thinking about how much money they have, how much things cost, and how to manage their savings and spending.
What about those chores, you say? While our kids don’t get paid to contribute to family chores, they DO have to PAY if they don’t do what’s expected. This idea came from the book Parenting with Love & Logic by Foster Cline and Jim Fay. I borrowed the book from my mother-in-law (who is a therapist, by the way) and was completely hooked to it. According to the book, we have set expectations for our children and we do not nag or remind them of what they are supposed to do. Our chart is taped to the fridge, for example. Our kids know what is expected of them every day, and if someone else has to do their job, then they have to pay that person. When Hunter’s chore was to do the dishes every night (before our current chart was in place) we used to have to remind and remind and REMIND her to get the dishes done. It was exhausting! We finally told her that they must be done by 8pm, or we would do them for her and she would have to pay us. Our going rate was $10 per night. I think she only “forgot” to do the dishes once or twice before she realized she didn’t like that consequence, especially since she only got paid $15 per week.
Allowance “fines” also occur for other reasons, such as if Kaiden goofs off at his martial arts class. He had a bad habit of playing around and not paying attention during class, which felt like he was wasting the money I paid for class. Since each class costs about $15, he was told that he could waste HIS money if he liked, but not mine. So far he has paid for a portion of ONE class, and his behavior has greatly improved. No more lectures, no more nagging. I feel like I might have a handle on this one aspect of parenting, finally.
Chores and Allowance – Conclusion
I won’t claim to have all the perfect answers on this, but this has definitely worked for our family. Hunter and Kaiden have been getting a weekly allowance for a couple of years now and it has GREATLY cut down on the popular question, “MOM, can we buy this?” My response is usually, “Did you bring your wallet? Do you have enough money?” and their question is answered from there.
As for the chores, this chart is somewhat new to us, but my family seems to do well with structure and clear expectations. This chores and allowance system may not work perfectly for you, and that’s ok! Change it to something that fits your family dynamic. I do highly recommend the book Parenting with Love & Logic, linked here. (This is an affiliate link, so if you purchase through this link, I will receive a small payment. You will not pay any extra. Thanks for supporting my blog!) This book has helped me with SO many other parenting moments where I typically throw my hands in the air and consider selling my kids to the circus. I much prefer calmly setting expectations and allowing naturally occurring consequences to happen.
I hope this has helped you in some way! I’d love to hear your comments and feedback on chores and allowance, or if something different works for your family. Please share below!