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One of my big goals for 2020 was to implement more structure into our daily chores. My girls have always been eager to help and for the most part do a great job, but I know that if we had a system in place, there would be less nagging and frustration. Plus, I thought they were old enough to handle more responsibility and learn about money management.
Are we ready to start chores and allowance?
If you’re on the fence about implementing chores or allowance in your family, consider these facts:
-Chores build confidence and competence. When your children learn and master new skills, they learn that they are capable of doing hard things.
-Taking part in household tasks increases gratitude as children learn what it takes to get the job done.
-Kids who do chores as young as three years old are more successful as adults (yes, really.)
-Chores curb self-centered impulses. Children are inherently self-centered, and chores are a concrete way to teach them to be considerate of others.
-Children who do chores learn about delayed gratification: something that’s much safer to learn at 4 than 24, when the stakes are much higher.
-Kids who do chores show more empathy, have better relationships, have higher self-esteem, and are more disciplined.
-Kids who earn their own money by doing chores are more financially responsible.
If that’s not enough to convince you, how about this: every member of the family should be contributing to the household – even if it’s simply folding laundry.
Generally speaking, the earlier kids start doing chores – even very small tasks – the more salient these results will be. My girls have had ‘unspoken’ chores practically since birth, but we began using these chore charts and earning allowance at 2 and 4 years old – and it’s gone super well!
What system should we use?
There are so. many. systems. out there for chores! I did lots of perusing Pinterest for ideas – magnet boards, sticker charts, popsicle stick jars, you name it. But ultimately, we decided on the Family Economy System. I first heard about the Family Economy through Ralphie of Simply on Purpose and became convinced after seeing Merrick over at Merricks Art using the system with her family.
The Family Economy System appealed to me for a lot of reasons. To name a few:
-The chart is sleek and simple, not circus colored craft paper (no offense, if that’s your thing), and I could have my kids use a dry erase marker to fill in as they go.
-The amount of chores in the system seemed doable for my kids, while still actually being helpful.
-You can completely customize the chores to your family’s needs.
-The point system is not all-or-nothing: my kids know that they are compensated for their work, but they won’t lose it all over a mistake.
-They can earn back points with ‘extra credit’ chores if needed: I love that it teaches them that they can get second chances in life.
What chores should I assign?
What you assign for chores depends totally on your family needs and your kids. I always take into account three key factors: age, ability, and needs. For example, my kids don’t go to full-day school where they would need a packed lunch, so that’s not on our chore chart. However, if you needed that to get done, it would be a perfect task for a school-aged child! And I would definitely assign different chores to a three year old and an eight year old, based on their abilities.
For my kids, since they are so young, I wanted to focus on building good habits. Some of these chores are super basic (like, you know, staying in their room until their alarm clock glows!) but I want them to get into the habit of doing these simple tasks. As they get older and master them, we will switch the chores out for more complex tasks. I also put chores on that I want them to be more independent with: like getting ready in the morning. They would still do these chores (with my help) but I want them to do them independently.
Ultimately, we chose the following chores for our kiddos:
-Stay in your room until alarm clock glows
-Put clothes away (folded laundry into drawers, dirty laundry into basket)
-Shoes in basket
-Clean up playroom
-Clear the table
-Wipe down table
-Bring in/sort backpack
-Read scriptures together
Some other chores that might be helpful for your family:
-Take out the trash
-Collect the laundry and bring it to the laundry room
-Collect small trash from household trash cans and bring to the trash/recycling bins
-Bring in the mail/packages
-Water house plants/garden
-Tidy up bedroom
-Fold laundry and put away
-Wipe off counters/mirrors/sink in bathroom
-Clean tubs, toilets
-Mop/steam mop hard floors
-Get school supplies/sports gear together
-Unpack backpack and bring forms to mom/dad
-Work in workbook
-Quiet reading for 20 minutes
-Online course for 20 minutes
-Feed pets/take for walk
This is my two-year-old’s chart from when we first starting doing chores. I make a little drawing by each chore for little ones still learning to read, and made some of her daily tasks into chores to help her build good habits.
Why Should I Pay Allowance?
How Much Should I Pay for Chores?
I was a little bit anti-allowance. “Why should kids be paid for doing what they’re supposed to do in the first place?” I thought. But, the more I considered allowance, the more I came to appreciate kids earning money. Now, I’m adamant that kids earn even a small sum for the work they do.
Earning money is super helpful. For one, I want to teach my children that all work has inherent value, even work done in the home. Is sorting laundry rocket science? No. Will they make a career from it? Probably not. But even when I’m not working in the home, I’m working hard – and every task is worth a monetary value. My kids should understand this at a young age to appreciate the simple tasks that it takes to make a household run.
Second, I want to teach my children that they will be rewarded for a job well done. It might not always be a monetary reward, and life is not always fair, but in our house, we want to recognize and show gratitude for the things we do for one another.
Third, I want to help my children understand the value of hard work, and how to value money. If kids do chores without allowance, they certainly learn many life skills – but money will not be one of them. And I really want my girls to understand how to wisely save and use their money.
When it comes to how much to pay, it depends on your circumstances and your family, but we do half the age of each child per week. For example, my daughter is 4 years old. Half of 4 is 2, so her full earning potential is $2/week.
Using the family economy system, each of her chores is worth 1 point, and she has nine chores a day. If she does all 63 chores, she earns the full amount. If she earns 50-62 points, she will earn half of her allowance, with the ability to do three special extra chores to earn the full amount. If she earns 50 points or less, she only gets half of her allowance. I love this point system because it rewards children proportionately to the work that they do. It also gives second chances – if there was an off day where we missed some chores, there’s the opportunity to do other tasks and get back on track.
How should kids store and spend their allowance?
One of the great benefits of kids earning allowance is being able to intentionally teach them about money management.
When we first began doing chores, we had a little family night lesson about money – earning it, and how to wisely use it. Our kids learned to count out their allowance (the value of coins), add up the total, and sort percents with help. We encourage our girls to save 10% of their allowance, and donate 10% to tithing in our church. These funds are used to help people all around the world. If you do not belong to a church, you could have your children pick a worthy cause to donate a portion of their allowance to.
To store money, I created a stacking bank system. Each girl gets three small lidded boxes: save, tithe, and spend. I use a chalk marker to label the boxes. When we pay out allowance each week, we take some time to sort their money into the boxes. When they’re done, I put them up into one of our kitchen cabinets for safe keeping. Older children might have their banks in their rooms, but at 2 and 4, I’m almost certain I would end up separating coins on the floor if I did that.
When it comes to the 80% that goes into their ‘spend’ bank, I think it’s important to let kids use it however they darn well please. Yep, I’ll let my girls buy whatever they want with their allowance money. They want to spend it on a unicorn-shaped balloon at the super market? Cool. Feel like buying a pack of gummy bears? Why not. Kids will have to learn at some point that some things are worth saving for, and some are impulse purchases that don’t bring long-term fulfillment. I’d much rather have my kids waste $5 on a chia pet than $50,000 on a too-big car loan as an adult.
Our whole family has really enjoyed using the family economy system. It’s cut down a lot on how much nagging I have to do, and circumvents conversations about ‘whyyyyy’ they need to do things – just point to the chart! I also love teaching the girls about money, and that they can earn their own money to buy the things they want. Do your kids do chores and earn allowance? I hope this was helpful for you and your family!