Tuesday, January 17, 2012



Does that word cause a pit in your stomach?  It does for me!  Our job as parents is to prepare our children for the world that awaits them -- spiritually, emotionally, and physically.  This includes the life skills that will help them be successful in life. 

Andy and I realized recently that we had slipped into that old parenting habit of constantly reminding our children to do what they already know they need to do. It was miserable for us and for the kids.  And it wasn't working.

Last I checked, Andy's boss doesn't bribe, cajole, or nag to get him to stay focused on his work.  It is Andy's responsibility to get his work done on time.  If he does, he is rewarded with good relationships with his boss and coworkers.  He is also rewarded with a paycheck!  If he doesn't do his work, 'real life' rewards him with some natural and logical consequences. 

Our former approach not only wasn't working; it was not preparing them for a world where they will not be reminded over and over to do their work -- they will receive a  natural or logical consequence (failed grade, lost job, etc.) and life will go on.  When they are grown, it is up to them whether they learn from those experiences, but in our home, we can talk about it and learn together. 

I had already prepared chore charts for each of them a few months ago, so they knew exactly what they needed to do, and when.  (ie, 'before lunch', 'before playing with friends', etc.)  The novelty had worn off.

We have now been using our new system for a couple weeks now, and I have to say we are all very happy with it!  We still use the above pictured chore charts.  In addition, here is what we did:

Please excuse the wrinkles on my 'example' chart. 
A certain toddler stepped on it as I was taking the picture. :)

We raised each child's allowance from a conservative $.25 per year (Nichole was receiving $1.75 per week at age 7) to $.50 per year (Nichole now receives $3.50 per week).  Lucas receives an addition $2 per week for caring for the chickens, rabbits, turtles, etc.

Then Andy and I considered the tasks that we find ourselves regularly nagging reminding them to do, and put a new policy in place -- they need to do their own work, or plan on paying someone else to do it.

Why is this a reasonable approach, you say?  Well, the reality is that we don't all keep up with what we need to do.  For instance, if Papa doesn't have time to mow his lawn, he might hire Daddy or Uncle Ian to do it for him.  If I've been focused on home schooling and I'm behind around the house, I occasionally hire a cleaning service to come and help me catch up.  Those are logical and acceptable alternatives to doing the work ourselves.

Our kids get a kick out of the fact that they don't have to do their work if they prefer not to.  Instead of hearing, "_____, you still haven't put your dishes in the dishwasher!", you will see Daddy clean up Sunday lunch, notice that a child was excused but did not take care of his dishes, do it for him, and note it on the chart.  Later, he will gently remind him, "You were busy with other activities. The job needed done, and I was happy to do it for you."  If the child complains about losing the money, the reply is, "You are welcome to do it yourself next time." :) 

Paying us to do their work for them is not a discipline....it is a privilege!  They get to choose to use their money that way if they wish, and we focus on the fact that we are all a team together, keeping the home running smoothly.  They are also learning the value of saving and spending.  (If they go into the negative, which we haveen't faced so far, they will need to either work to pay us back, or lose a privilege.)

On Saturdays, we go over the chart with them. (No shaming or tsk-tsking over how often we may have put their dishes in the dishwasher for them, or the fact that they skipped their chores 3 times this week.)  Then we divvy up the money due and head to a nearby thrift store, where there is much happiness as quarters and dollars are spent, and much searching for the 50% off colored tags.  (They are also learning how to shop for a bargain! :)  Each of them checks out on their own so they can hand over their money and keep their own change.  Doing this regularly helps them value their money in a way that we didn't see when it was just sitting in their bank.

How do you handle chores around your house?


Janae said...

That's awesome!!

We've been doing something similar and it's helped but I think we were missing a few key elements that will make it really work for Cayden!!

You are such an inspiration, Kiara!

Anonymous said...

I love it... at one point we had a teen son who felt he had gained enough financially from his birthday that he would now pay his brother his allowance in order to get his chores done. I permitted this for a week, then came the second week. Same son again "payed" his brother with his allowance to complete his chores. I very calmly explained to this son that in the real world when you don't show up for work 3 times in a row, whether someone does your work or not, you lose your job. If he chose to not do his chores the following week, he would be fired and his chores would be given to the other family members (with possibly a slight increase in pay for those under 18) but that when he ran out of money, he would not be able to "re-assume" his job as it would no longer be available. He reconsidered and decided to do his own work.

Denise said...

I really like this idea. Someone recently suggested a similar idea to us. Instead of (or in addition to) writing it on paper, he suggested having a jar for each child, full of quarters equaling the amount of their weekly allowance. That way, they have a visual when you're removing one or two quarters for the job that you did for them. He said that his kids did NOT want to see those quarters disappearing, so they made more of an effort to do their chores.

With four kids, it's a lot of quarters each week, but we still may give it a try. This constant nagging is OLD! :)

Andy and Kiara said...

I just ran across this blog post with some similar thoughts, and other great ideas I might implement (like having your wallet in hand when allowance is paid out). :)

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