Getting your kids to do their chores without nagging

Are You the Mom or the Maid? Getting Kids to Do Chores WITHOUT Nagging

Overview: Does getting your kids to do their chores without nagging seem like a pipe dream? If so, here are some ideas which should help!

Having our kids do chores should theoretically make things easier for everyone around the house.  However, getting our kids to do their chores can be a painful process.  Quite often, it feels like getting our kids to do their work becomes way more work for us.

Are You the Mom or the Maid?

And it can be frustrating as well.  Does this resemble your household at all?

Chores Technique in a Typical Household

  1. Have a family meeting.
  2. Tell kids what you want them to do each week.
  3. Post a chore chart.
  4. Nag, nag, nag as you see the kids not doing their chores.
  5. Start doing the chores yourself because it’s just easier that way.
  6. Give up.
  7. Resent the fact that you’re the only one who does any work around the house.
  8. Start the whole process all over again.

Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be this way.  We can get our kids to do their chores without having to nag them constantly.  

Time Capsule: Medieval England Unit Study

Technique #1

I recently read about one clever way to get your kids to willingly do their chores in the book Cleaning House: A Mom’s 12-Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement by Kay Wills Wyma.

  • Put a jar in each child’s room.
  • Fill the jars with a dollar bill for each day of the month.
  • Have a family meeting.  Tell the kids what you expect from them each day that month.
  • Post a chore chart to be sure there isn’t any confusion.
  • If the expectations aren’t met by the end of the day, remove one dollar bill from that child’s jar.  No discussion necessary.
  • At the end of the month, the kids get to keep whatever amount of money is left in their jar.

According to Kay Wills Wyma, seeing the money in the jar is a huge motivator.  If the kids want to keep the money, they’ll do their chores.  If not, they don’t get paid.

Technique #2

I learned about another unique technique from Dr. Kevin Leman in his new program called 3 Easy Steps to Help Around the House.

  • Talk to your spouse about how much money you want to pay each child.  (**If you think you don’t have the money to pay your kids a salary, see below.)
  • Have a family meeting.  Give the kids a list of all chores which need to be done around the house and let them decide how to split them up.
  • Post a chore chart to be sure there isn’t any confusion.
  • If expectations aren’t met by the end of the day, pay a different child to do that chore.  Pay them immediately from the other child’s salary.
  • At the end of each week, give each child the amount of money that they have earned.

Again, Dr. Leman says that the money is a big motivator.  Most of us are motivated by money or whatever money can buy.  By the way, if you have younger kids, you may be able to get away with using candy or a different reward.

** Think You Don’t Have Money to Pay Your Kids?

If money is tight and you don’t think you have enough money to pay your kids a salary, add up how much you spend on them for clothing, sports equipment, extracurricular activities, youth group events, car insurance, and anything else you can think of.  From now on, instead of you forking out money to pay for these things, your kids can pay for them from the salary you pay them.  And if they refuse to earn the salary then they don’t receive the privilege of purchasing those items.

Chores in the Caskey Household

My husband and I have decided to combine the above techniques into one which will work better for our family.  We want to put a system in place which is simple enough that we won’t give up on it… but also has enough detail to it that it will effectively motivate our boys.

Our system has two parts: Outdoor Chores and Indoor Chores.

Outdoor Chores Technique:

We have a large yard.  We actually mow a couple of acres of land so each of our boys mows half. Depending on the time of year, sometimes they need to mow once a week and sometimes twice a week or more.

This summer, we will be paying our boys $5 a week to keep the yard mowed.  That amount will stay the same no matter how many times it needs to be mowed.  They will also be asked to do other yard work and to help in the garden from time to time.

From this money, our boys will be responsible for their lunch at McDonald’s where they go with their youth group once a month.  This is done on a Sunday when their group leads a church service for a local nursing home.  We usually give the boys $10 and they bring back the change… however, we’ve found that they spend the vast majority of the money that we give them on McFlurries and shakes and fries and all sorts of stuff they don’t normally get.  They could certainly spend less if they wanted to.

Now that they will be purchasing their lunch with money they have earned, whatever money they don’t spend on that lunch will be theirs to keep.  We hope this will help them learn to be wise about what they are buying.  If they would like, we will even offer to let them pack their lunch so that they don’t have to spend any of their money on food.

→ Related Content: 6 Smart Strategies to Take Charge of Household Chores

Indoor Chores Technique:

Getting your kids to do their chores without nagging

We have a goal to try to teach our boys all of the life skills which will be necessary for them to know before they leave our home.  Because we want them to learn lots of different things – and because our time left with them is finite – we seriously had a hard time figuring out how to organize all of the tasks we’d like to teach them and assign dollar values to everything without giving ourselves a brain embolism.

We also had a hard time figuring out how we could seamlessly switch from us paying for everything to our boys paying for everything without all of us going crazy.

Fortunately, we had a light bulb moment.  We decided that instead of switching everything over in one fell swoop and possibly crashing and burning, we are going to switch over more gradually.

Part of our new technique will be assigning point values to all of their chores rather than handing over cash for everything.  Our thought is that over the summer, as our boys accumulate points, they will be able to cash in these points to participate in a myriad of family activities that we will be doing with them when we take our vacation this year.

Because we have already budgeted a hefty amount of money for these types of activities, we won’t have to come up with additional funds in order to “pay” our boys for their hard work.

To get started, we will go over all of the fun stuff which is available at our vacation destination with our boys.  This will help to motivate everyone.  If they’re interested, we may also make a dream board of some of their most desired activities and include the number of points associated with each activity so they will know what they have earned as each week goes by.

Next, we will decide what chores each boy will do for the following week.  These things will be added to a chore chart and posted on the refrigerator so that everyone knows what they are responsible for.

Finally, we will sit back and see them complete everything without any nagging.  At the end of each day, we will note what has or has not been done.  We are planning to implement Dr. Leman’s strategy of paying the other sibling to complete the work rather than nagging the one who has dropped the ball.

At the end of the week, we will pay each of our boys by giving them cash for the outdoor chores – and adding their earned points for the indoor chores to a chart.

If all goes well, by the end of the summer our boys will have earned plenty of money for their McDonald’s lunches, a little bit of spending money, and a WHOLE LOT of points which they can cash in to do the kind of stuff they enjoy doing on our vacation.

There’s a lot more to write about with such a huge undertaking… so I have also written a post called 8 Important Tips to Prepare and Run a Life Skills Boot Camp to talk more about this process and how things are going. Hopefully, making this shift will help our kids to take responsibility for completing their work so that I can concentrate all of my nagging on my husband. LOL  Just kidding.  I would never nag my husband!

Question:  Do your kids do their chores without any nagging on your part?  Do you have a system in place which you could share with the rest of us? Please leave a comment below.

Getting Your Kids to Do Their Chores Without Nagging
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20 thoughts on “Are You the Mom or the Maid? Getting Kids to Do Chores WITHOUT Nagging”

  1. Thank you for the tips. I’ve always been concerned about giving monetary rewards for general household chores but maybe I should consider it. I’ve always thought that chores should be done without monetary reward. Some extra chores like mowing the lawn or washing the car could call for some monetary reward, but I’ve considered that the other chores like helping in the kitchen or taking out the garbage should be done anyway. As adults, we don’t get any reward for doing these things except maybe the sense of accomplishment or gratefulness from our spouse although we shouldn’t expect it.

    I also feel that basic necessities should be given unconditionally like clothes, etc. Not so much entertainment and luxuries.

    But maybe I need to adjust my thinking.

    I admit I need to let go more and let my kids help out around the house more. I think the hardest part is teaching them how to do things like cook, iron, etc. It just takes so much time to teach them, and when I’m busy, it’s easier to do them myself.

    1. Michelle Caskey

      You’re right. It does take a lot of time! I hear where you’re coming from with thinking that kids should do general household chores without monetary rewards… but they are actually getting those rewards in the form of privileges.

      My boys are, at least. We’ve paid a bunch of money for them to participate in basketball and baseball this year. It would be great for them to just inherently see the link between their responsibilities around the house and the privileges they receive. If they aren’t seeing that link, however, we might need to make it a bit more concrete for them. We’re hoping this new system will help! 🙂

  2. When my sons were young and loving to go on field trips, which I planned a lot because it is a great way for boys to learn, i would remind them that we can’t go on field trips if I have to sort and put away the laundry, and clean out the dish washer, and, and and…So they wanted to help so we could go on field trips. Then we posted job ads with jobs that we would pay to have completed.

  3. I love these ideas…. Just wondering how to use them with the ” buddy system”. I’m referring to pairing up a younger child with an older child. What happens when the younger one skips out, and what if the older one is exaggerating about how the chore played out?

  4. These are all great tips! I’m so tired of saying “I’m not your maid!” to my daughter! I’ll have to try something! Thanks for linking up to the Bloggers Brags Pinterest Party. I have pinned your post to the Bloggers Brags Pinterest Board

  5. There are good ideas here.
    We don’t reward for everyday chores with money, because they are expected to do them. It’s everyone’s responsibility to contribute to the family. Also, there are no gender specific chores in our house. When they do extra chores they get rewarded. Sometimes with money, sometimes with extra time at night. Honestly, it’s whatever I feel like rewarding at the time or what’s available. Too, if we do give them money they have to put 10% in savings, 10% in tything, and they get the rest.

  6. So…if the kids don’t do the chores, and the sibling assigned to take over their chores doesn’t do the chores…who gets to do the chores? Mom? I had the dubious honor of attempting to keep track of which kid was supposed to do what and which ones did/did not do them, and who was reassigned to do them…. And then throwing my hands up when the dishes STILL WEREN’T DONE! Nope. I burned out on that whole approach. (Maybe it’s because we have 5 kids, I dunno, but I felt that I was expending way more energy into something with very limited returns.) We quit paying for chores. Period. I might pay for extra help on big projects, but that’s a negotiated amount per job. We finally sat down with the kids and pointed out that we were, shockingly enough, a FAMILY. We each needed to help out because we all contribute to the messiness of living. Dad doesn’t get paid for doing chores. I certainly don’t get paid for doing chores. It came down to a kind of “Suck it up, Buttercup!” approach. You used the toilet/shower/dishes/clothes…so you get to help maintain them now. When you move out, guess what? You won’t get paid to fix your own meals or do your own dishes, either. So this is just one grown-up treat (ie: the responsibility to maintain a healthy environment without monetary reward) they get to have early! 😀 It gives us a chance to work together and be cheerful in the work God expects of us. Are the kids always happy? Nope. It’s a work in progress. However, they weren’t any more cheerful about chores when they were paid, either.

    1. Michelle Caskey

      Yeah, Mom seems to be the one who keeps track of who is supposed to be doing what – whether we use a carrot or a stick to motivate the kids. 🙂

  7. There are perhaps non monetary rewards that need to be considered here, such as being able to choose the family game on game night, have a friend over for a night on the weekend, choosing the family walk path for that weekend, etc. There are many families who aren’t spending money on clothes, sports activities, equipment etc so they don’t have this money to use because they can barely pay the basic bills. It’s great if children grow up learning how to manage money and earning it, fantastic life skills but they should still be included in running a household that is on a baseline income and participate because families work together and help each other.

  8. Thanks for your article. It (getting our kids to own their responsibilities) seems to be a common challenge in every family. We ask our boys (11 & 13) if they are free to do what they want to do. If it turns out that they are not free because they have neglected to fulfil their responsibilities on time they have to pick an extra job out of a box, put it on a magnet peg on the fridge and are not able to have free time until their extra jobs are done to our satisfaction. We’re still working on it. I think also working on their heart attitude is most important.

    1. Great suggestion! And yes, you nailed it with the heart attitude. We all start out as fairly selfish people who think the world revolves around us. And the goal is to help them realize that that isn’t the case.

  9. I am really struggling with this whole thing atm. I have 5 – 18yo girl 16yo boy 15yo boy 12yo girl and 7yo boy. My 18yo rarely does her share – too “Busy”. But what sort of consequences do you use for an 18yo? The next boys do their basic 1 or 2 cores at a basic level. Everyone ignores the washing up roster. I don’t have spare cash to pay much. And keeping a track of who’s done their chores and when (if i try to implement more chores than just the basic empty bins and empty dw which at their age they should be able to do heaps more to help esp now that hubby is working away and we maintain a small farm) all does my head in (with the added brain fog and energy levels of chronic fatigue). Even when we sat down recently and set up a jar with ideas of rewards it didn’t help. Frustrated.

    1. It’s a struggle. I can relate for sure! The only advice I have for you is to try to find some form of motivation for your kids, whether that is computer time, youth group activities, TV time, or some other privilege that will mean something to them. Tell them what you expect them to do and then require them to do it before they receive the privilege. I actually write down chores on my boys’ daily schoolwork list and they have to check it off before they’re done for the day.

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