Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A Chores Experiment

I have struggled for quite some time to find a way to get my kids to do chores around the house.  I have tried daily chores.  I have tried charts and lists.  My most recent effort has been to do Saturday chores.  Basically, every Saturday, I give each of my three girls a list of 3-4 chores to do.  I try very hard to make sure they are reasonable and fair, but my directions are inevitably met with whining and complaining.  For example, I typically assign them each a section of the playroom to clean.  The conversation starts like this:

Child 1 - "Why do I have to clean up the marker?  I didn't get them out!!

Child 2: "She's not doing anything.  she's just sitting there watching us clean!"

Child 3: Cries

Child 1: Yells at Child 2 - "Stop putting stuff in my section for me to clean!"

Child 2: "I'm putting it in your section because that's where it goes!"

Child 3: "Moooommmmmyyyyy!!!!  They're fighting!"

Child 1:  "Well, I'm cleaning and she's yelling at me.  And #3 isn't even cleaning.  She's just telling on us!"

Child 2: "You're not cleaning!  you're just throwing more stuff in my section for me to clean!"

And so on and so forth until . . . . .

Me: Yell, Yell, Yell - "Just Forget it!  I don't know why I bother asking you to help.  Just go to your rooms and I'll clean it up!"

In short, we all really, really dislike chore time because we all know how it will end.  It is miserable for everyone.

In the past, I have never paid my kids to do chores.  I figure it is their responsibility.  After all, I am asking them to clean their rooms and the messes they made.  I do waaayyyy more chores than them and I don't get paid, right?  I guess I want them to take pride in a clean, orderly space and I feel that should be reward enough.  Obviously, "clean and orderly" aren't all that important to them.

Well, this past Saturday, there were chores that needed to be done.  They all had stacks of clean laundry that had been sitting in their rooms for a week.   Their rooms were messy and the playroom looked like a bomb had exploded.  Hubby was outside doing some yard work and I was not looking froward to implementing the Saturday chore torture routine.  So, I gave it a little thought and decided to give them some incentive this time.  I told them that this time they could earn money for doing their chores.  I reminded them that we were going on vacation soon and that they would be able to use the money for souvenirs.  I gave them a list of chores, each with a dollar amount attached.  I told them that if the chore was not done properly, they would not be given the full amount.  I also told them that money would be deducted for complaining, whining, fighting, or tattling.  Let me tell y'all - it was light someone lit a fire under these girls!  They jumped right in and got to work.  Their rooms were spotless.  Their clothes were put away properly.  The playroom was organized.  The best part - there was no fighting; no whining; no yelling.  They each earned the full potential reward of $7.

Now, I 'm re-evaluating my previous approach.  Maybe they are too young to have the intrinsic motivation I am hoping for.  If so, maybe bribing rewarding them with a little cash is o.k.  After all, parting with $21 was soooo much easier than all the yelling and arguing that would have surely taken place using the "old" method - my sanity is completely worth $21!!!  As a bonus, they can work on their money management skills if they continue to earn some cash.

So how about all of you??  Are your kids required to do chores?  If so, do they earn money for it?  What system works for you?


Karen said...

I used to pay him, but after reading some posts I changed my mind. I am not going to pay him for something that he should do automatically. One day when he has his own house no one will pay him, he just needs to do it. lucky, he LOVES to help me by putting away his clothes, (which I have to fold neatly in the drawers later on), loading the washer and dryer, cleaning up his toys, cleaning up a mess, (though there are always toys out in his room) bringing dishes and utensils in the kitchen. I think that me keeping a clean and organized apt helps too.

Karen @ BakingInATornado said...

In terms of money management skills: any time my kids earned money, even allowance from as young as Kindergarten, they had to put a portion of it into a savings account. Now my oldest is going to college and I'll be turning that account over to him as his spending money. Worked out great.
Also, what worked for me was paying them in my own chores. For instance, their favorite shirt didn't get washed this week because I didn't choose to do that chore. Their favorite cookies didn't get bought that week because my chore was to make out the list and I didn't put them on. My kids learned that we all have chores, we all have to do them, and all of our chores affect each other.

BunkinMama said...

I would say this is a great way to work on money management skills! I like this better than a flat amount as an allowance each week, since it is based on how well they do their chores.

We haven't gotten to the arguing stage yet, since M is still a baby. V does grumble about doing her chores, but loves to help me do my chores.

Oh and I nominated you for the Liebster Award Come over and check it out!

Lisa @ The Golden Spoons said...

I am really torn now about paying them. Before, I would have totally agreed with you. Unfortunately, mine hate chores and paying them made it so much easier for everyone. Really interested to get this feedback from other parents!

Lisa @ The Golden Spoons said...

My hubs manages the money in our house for the most part and he puts a set amount into savings accounts for the kids each month. However, that money money is not tangible to them because it never passes through their hands. I like the idea of giving them money, but requiring they save some. I also like the idea of "paying' them (or not) by the chores you do.

Lisa @ The Golden Spoons said...

The allowance is part of the issue - we don't give our kids an allowance. Part of me thinks they should't get paid fr chores because is just just part of their responsibility to the family. However, I also don't feel right for just handing them money every week that they didn't "earn" somehow.

Jessica Cobb said...

Our oldest (almost 7) has a few chores we expect her to do every day as her way to help around the house, and also if she expects us to continue paying for and taking her to/from ballet every week (set and clear table at meal times, clean up living room before bedtime, keep her room clean, put away her clean clothes). We do have extra chores she can do to earn video game time (sweep, load/unload dishwasher, clean out the shoe closet and put everyone's shoes away). She gets a ticket worth 5 minutes of play time for each chore she completes; the maximum being 4 tickets per day. Our middle child (3.5) has started expressing interest in playing games, too, and has been eager to do things to earn his own play time (pick up books and toys, help sissy with her chores, etc.) We tried doing allowance for a while, but it didn't seem to give our daughter the same satisfaction as game time. We also came to feel that they shouldn't be paid to help around the house; since no one's going to reward them as adults for cleaning up we don't want to set that precedent for them. ((They're actually cleaning out the shoe closet together for game time right now, giving me a few minutes to zone out.))

Robin Kramer @ Pink Dryer Lint said...

I'm glad that you found something that made your day easier, Lisa! So many families have different takes on how to approach chores, allowances, payment, etc., and it's probably best to seek wisdom about what method works best for your particular kids at the stage of life you're in, without guilt or comparison.
(I think I've listened to the exact same conversation that you detailed above with my own girls, crying included!)

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