Working on Chores

Over the past few (okay, many) years, I have been trying to figure out a good chore system to use with the children. I’ve purchased pre-made plans and tried ideas from magazines and the web. While some plans worked well in the beginning, they were difficult to keep up consistently, and my chore dilemma became, well, a chore.

The chores I assign to the kids aren’t hard ones. They involve tidying their bedrooms, feeding the pets, and cleaning one or two rooms in the house. If we all did our part, I figured, our home would be in good shape most of the time.

Because my children are always on the lookout for ways to earn money, I thought tying chores with allowances would be the way to go. Each day they completed their chores, they would receive their “pay” for the day; no work meant no pay. While this sounded good in theory, it turned out that the small salary wasn’t enough to motivate them, as most days they left their chores undone, and I had to take care of everything myself.

We switched back to “these are your chores, and because you are part of this family, you need to do them.” While this was a more effective way of getting the work done, I then had children who were bemoaning the fact that they never had any extra spending money.

So now, we’re combining the two methods. The children each have a chore chart with jobs they must do each day as a way of contributing to the household. If there’s not time to do the chores before we begin schooling for the day, the jobs must be completed immediately after school before playtime, computer time, or television. These chores don’t receive any pay.

But, there are extra jobs the kids can do, and to keep track of these, we use a jar of marbles. Each child has a quart-sized jar; when a child completes one of the extra chores, he or she receives a certain number of marbles (designated by me) to put in their jars. Marbles are also given for being kind, playing with younger siblings, good manners, etc. When the jar is full, the child then receives a certain amount of money (also designated by me). A diligent worker, then, can fill up a jar a couple of times a month, while those less-inclined to work will naturally have less spending money.

For us, this plan seems to be working well. But it’s shown me that methods of completing chores around the house must often be tailored to fit the individual family, and sometimes, as the children grow, these methods will still need tweaking. So if your family isĀ  struggling with getting chores done, don’t give up. There’s a plan (or a combination of plans) that will work for you!

Photo by kahle

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