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Money for Chores?

Do your kids do certain jobs around the house (ok – yes, I am talking about the “c” word – CHORES) without getting paid for them?  Do you feel there are some things your children should just contribute (another “c” word) to the family or the household without having a carrot of some sort waved in front of them? 

I am feeling it is time to set up SOME sort of allowance system.  I previously wrote about financial expert Suze Orman’s opinion on allowances.  Her way is a bit “out of the box” but very interesting – and certainly makes some sense. 

A lot of parents I know tie allowances into chores – you do your chores, you get your allowance each week.  But most money experts say DON’T DO IT.  As Jean Chatzky, financial editor of the Today show and daily radio host on Oprah & Friends, said when asked if you should tie the allowance to good grades or doing chores:

"My feeling is no for two reasons. One, I believe it's the child's responsibility to do his or her best in school and to help around the house. School is their job just like work or running a household (or both) is yours. And two, if you make one contingent on the other, you're taking the chance that your child will choose to forego the cash in favor of not emptying the dishwasher or walking the dog. And you want them to have the money so that they'll learn how to manage it."

Whether you go along with Suze Orman’s method or as Jean Chatzky suggested, most agree there are things kids should do around the house (chores) just because.  And today, as a first step in this whole process, that is what I am thinking about.  What are good “jobs” or tasks for my kids to do that are not tied into any financial compensation?  Things like setting the table, picking up their dirty clothes or feeding the dog.  My kids do help out currently, but it is always when asked and not on a regular, consistent basis.  Time, I think, for that to change.

Do most parents have a list of chores their child must do?  Is it formally stated on a Chores Chart – or is that just for anal, wannabe organizers like me?  I can see where that would be helpful in showing your child what needs to be done, so that you don’t have to nag remind them constantly.  Or, does managing a chart just become one more thing for the parent to keep track of? (one of my greatest fears!)

For people like me with more than one child, do you switch some things off every other day?  You know, today is Johnny’s day to set the table, tomorrow is Mary’s, etc?  Or again, does that make it too complicated to keep track of?  I can see already the fights we could have…“But Mom, I did it yesterday – it’s her turn!”  Maybe a weekly system would be better.  One week one child sets the table and the other clears it; the next week it switches.  

It already sounds confusing and I haven't even started yet! But what I do know is having our kids be responsible for things is important.  This Zen Mama Wannabe truly believes that the more kids are able to take on as contributing members of a family, the more this will help them as adults become active contributors to our society at large.  Ah yes, teamwork.  Learning how to work hard and pitch in for the greater good.  These are qualities that must be taught.  So, I'm on board – chores it is.  I just need to set it up so that doing chores does not backfire and become a CHORE for me!

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4 Responses to “Money for Chores?”

  1. Tonggu Momma Says:
    November 17th, 2008 at 5:58 am

    In our house, chores that are daily or weekly repeaters don’t earn money, but seasonal jobs do (leaf raking, weeding, helping put away holiday decorations, etc). I think you have to just find what works for y’all and be willing to change if you find it isn’t working anymore.

  2. LarkLady Says:
    November 17th, 2008 at 11:43 am

    Wise words, Tonggu Momma: you have to be flexible and re-evaluate as you go along, keeping what works and making alterations as needed.

    But Zen Mama, if you think that giving your children responsibilities of their own will lessen your work, think again! 😉 Helping them learn to take responsibility is an important part of parenting, but at least initially it will be more work for you, not less. So prepare for that.

    Your 4-year-old isn’t ready for the same level of responsibilties as your 7-year-old, so factor that in when you think about alternating tasks from day to day or week to week. And be careful of assigning tasks on which someone else depends — things like feeding the dog. It might be simple and well within their abilities, but since it’s the dog that suffers if they don’t do it, it’s not the best type of task to start out with.

    Ask them for input. Explain that they’re getting old enough to take on more responsibilities and ask what they think might be appropriate daily and weekly tasks.

    And be very sure you all understand the “rules” — who is responsible for doing what, how often, and what the penalty is for not doing it. Ask the kids if they think a chart would help them to remember what needs to be done. When will the system be reviewed and evaluated and changes made, if necessary?

    And let us know how it goes!

  3. Danna Says:
    November 17th, 2008 at 4:21 pm

    Enjoyed reading about the issue of chores, I’m on the “need to do it” side of things, not for $$. Think an allowance should be about learning to keep within a budget, giving, as in gifts, learning about how long it takes to save for something etc.

    For chores, we did have a chart, reward system based, gold star was placed when the chores for the day were done, by the kids. At the end of a week if all was done, RARELY, they might get an extra dollar or 2, or a treat etc. Thought this showed them that work , & extra work was rewarded, but just ok was not rewarded.

    It’s all so complicated, & you just don’t know the outcome for a long time. Think my kids did learn that great results required hard work. That $$ is worth working for but requires work & commitment to do it & that it can be very rewarding personally. They also learned about responsibility, that’s the biggy!

    I remember my guys cleaning off the table each night, loading the dishwasher etc, & when I’d ask about anything else, they did that 1 finger by the side of their nose, which meant that they were off the hook & the other one had to do it! Not so good, but funny!

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