27 Apr Family Friday – Chores and Allowance
It’s almost time for my oldest to graduate from high school and head off to college in the fall. With that change coming, my mind has been flooded with thoughts on whether or not we have taught her everything she will need to know to be off on her own.
For this child I hope we did ok. She was our first and our parenting experiment in many ways, and we’ve learned so much and changed so much in the past 18 years that I hope she’s learned something along the way.
If not maybe she can look back here if she needs a refresher while she’s on her own.
So for her sake and mine, I thought I’d share some of what we do to help instill some work ethic and money management in our kiddos. At least what we have hoped and tried to teach them…
We are still a work in progress for sure!
I HATE cleaning but I love having a clean house. So like many things in my life, I’ve had to teach myself to enjoy the process.
One of the ways my husband and I have learned to motivate our family to quickly get their Saturday morning chores done (more on this later) is to play some dance music and get it done together. There’s something about having some up beat music playing in the background that helps to tune out that part of me that would really rather being doing ANYTHING else. We try to keep the same schedule as much as possible so the kids know the routine and what’s expected before they head off to do whatever they want for the day.
I’ve tried to teach my kids to follow these simple rules, and:
“Do what you don’t want to do, when you don’t want to do it, because you know you should!”
And really it just has to be done. Life requires maintenance (every part of it) and so we must learn to maintain it. I’ve learned if I can teach my kids to keep a couple things under control around the house, a little bit every week, then everything seems to be managed just a little bit better.
- Get the worst thing over first! That chore that you despise and just wish you didn’t have to do at all (i.e. cleaning toilets… yes all of my kids clean toilets!) do that one first. Otherwise your brain will find ways to creatively avoid getting to it and when you finally do (after much nagging) you’re tired, irritated and the chore becomes that much worse. The bonus, once it’s done: everything else is easier and seems to fly by quickly!
- Stay focused on the one task you are doing and stay in that room until you finish.
- Bring a basket, garbage bag and all cleaning supplies you need to the room you are in. Put anything that needs to go to another room into the basket and take it all to deliver and be put away once you are done.
- Do all of your laundry once a week. Then at the end of the week you should only have about 2 loads to do. Super easy!
- Everyone helps with dishes and kitchen duty after dinner.
- Everyone takes a turn taking out the garbage.
- Mom and dad can change these rules at any time J
Do you pay your kids for chores?
I’ve heard both sides of this debate and agree some with each.
At our house all daily chores are everyone’s responsibility. Everyone has to help maintain dishes, floors and bathrooms throughout the week.
However, we do pay for weekend chores. Which are things like deep cleaning bathrooms, toilets and showers, and mowing the lawn. But they aren’t an option, you can’t opt out of doing them. We are just nice enough to pay you for them. Ha!
Brandon and I believe that kids need to learn to manage money and the only way to teach them how to manage money is for them to earn and use money even if we have it to give to them.
Not many of my friends worked a job in high school like I did. While I was glad to have the money and the experience, hanging out with friends that didn’t have jobs made me feel like the odd one out or that I somehow had a harder road. So I started thinking there was no way I would make my kids work and go to school.
Then, one day I went to lunch at a Subway in Provo, UT. There behind the counter was a very well known Mormon celebrity’s son.
At first I thought, why in the world would he be working at Subway? He surely doesn’t need to. As I’ve gotten older I realized how incredible his parents were. They could have given him everything, really anything he wanted but they chose to teach him how to work for it instead.
Seeing this kid working behind the counter at Subway stuck with me. His parents saw the value of teaching him to work.
Back to chores and allowance…
When kids are little they obviously can’t get jobs so we offer them an allowance.
(Side note- Although our kids have part time jobs as teenagers they are still required to deep clean their bathroom once a week.)
By the time they are teens they just know this is what we do every week and they have learned to love the peace that comes from keeping things tidy. (I hope!)
We aren’t perfect, and I don’t expect my kids to be either. Life is bumpy and no chores will be getting done at our house today with everything we have going on. However, it’s expected that they will need to get it done sometime this weekend.
We have reworked this formula over the years and it changes as needed but in general we like to have the kids learn to distribute and save their money like the following;
- 10% tithing to our church (charity)
- 20% savings for college (education)
- 20% savings for missions (service)
- 50% for whatever they want including toys, games, ½ clothing wants, ½ extracurricular, eating out, dates, gas etc. This might seem high for spending money but we want them to learn to use their money by making decisions on good vs bad purchases, not just mindlessly spend our money.
A long time ago I heard someone say: If you are going to be buying things for your kids anyway, let them work for you to earn the money to help pay for the item you would have bought them anyway.
This way they learn to work and learn the value of money while also learning how to responsibly manage and save their money for things that they want.
Bonus- You get a little more help around the house!!
We pay for all of our kids’ necessities and have them pay for ½ of their extra curricular once they reach high school. This helps insure that they are participants in being responsible for their own success.
I’ve seen kids handed everything. I’ve seen the kids who’ve paid for half of their extras (even with parents who can afford to pay for it all like the story above) and the appreciation and the commitment in a kid who has paid for at least some of his own sports, piano, etc. is incredible.
Are we strict with these rules? No, it is case-by-case and kid-by-kid.
Sometimes we end up paying more for one of our kids because their sport is really expensive or sometimes we help the kids out with gas money if we know they have been super busy with school or extra things they’ve had going on.
For example my oldest daughter is senior class president, Leos club president, and on the seminary council. She also plays varsity tennis and works part time, all while trying to keep her grades up. She has learned to really manage her time and prioritize so that she can participate in everything she wants to do.
However, on weeks like Prom or Homecoming when we know she will be doing extra student council hours and if it’s during tennis season, we tend to be lenient, understanding and so do the other kids. They will help her out with some of her chores and we help out with extra gas or food money until she can normalize her schedule again.
For us it’s about teaching “work as a transferable skill” and something to build on, not about being rigid or harsh. We teach them to manage money, not to hate that they have to work for it.
But the kids always help with some part of whatever they are participating in.
We try to keep everything generally the same for each child but have also explained to them that each child has different needs. If one kid needs a little more money now, another kid might need it at a different time, so everyone tries to be understanding of each other’s needs.
Sometimes my kids tell me how much they hate having to clean their own bathrooms, and that the neighbors have cleaning companies come in and… How come we don’t??
To which I remind them that what I am paying them I could easily pay someone else to do the same chores, but then they wouldn’t have any money to work with.
We COULD just make them help out for free. Ha!
We have had a cleaning company help out with the chores before when things were difficult with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and when my kids were little and required a ton of work. It was just what our family needed at the time so things didn’t get out of hand around the house while I was tending to Allie’s extra needs.
Even then, our kids were still required to clean their toilets once a week.
I know, I’m mean right? 😉
I don’t know if we are doing it right or wrong and it might change again over the coming years as my kids start to leave the house. But I hope we have given them some kind of foundation from which they can build and transition to living on their own, managing their own finances, chores and responsibilities.
I hope they have learned to work, to learn to enjoy it and become better and grow because of it so that it’s easier to manage and do later on.
What are your ideas for chores and money? I’d love to hear the great ways you have inspired your kids to work.
Have a great day!