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.
And it can be frustrating as well. Does this resemble your household at all?
Chore Technique in a Typical Household
- Have a family meeting.
- Tell kids what you want them to do each week.
- Post a chore chart.
- Nag, nag, nag as you see the kids not doing their chores.
- Start doing the chores yourself because it’s just easier that way.
- Give up.
- Resent the fact that you’re the only one who does any work around the house.
- 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.
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.
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, extra curricular 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.
Indoor Chores Technique:
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 everything get completed without any nagging. At the end of each day, we will note what has or has not been completed. 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’ll be writing more about this process and how things are going in future blog posts. 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.
And please check out the other great posts about Teaching Responsibility from other iHN bloggers at iHomeschool Network.