We have really found a great stride with our oldest child in having a responsibility and chore chart. With school starting back in 2 months, this would be a great time to start if you haven’t already! Here are some of the BIG questions that I worked through in the beginning:
How do you start and how consistent do you have to be?
It all started for us one night about 9 months ago when my son began complaining that he didn’t like bedtime because we would get short and snippy and tell him to “do this” and “do that”. We were happy to oblige him the next morning with his own checklist of morning and nighttime responsibilities. (This later paved the way to adding the option of chores to earn spending money). He is about 5 ½ now so I guess we started somewhere between 4 and 5.
With his responsibilities, we are pretty well consistent. But as you can see from the picture of his list (posted on the mirror at his desk in his room), most of these things usually have to get done regardless. In the mornings, he does not get breakfast until his responsibilities are done. He starts kindergarten next month (EEK!!), and we will have to adapt to this system then. I will probably use an alarm clock and if he gets his responsibilities done in time, he can then have the option of doing his chores in the afternoon after school.
We are NOT as consistent with chores (separate concept from his responsibilities). Some days he asks to earn money–other days I could really use his help and will bring it up, and some days both of us just ignore the idea altogether.
When should you start doing chores with your child?
Chores were introduced as soon as we saw that his responsibilities were in a strong enough pattern. We decided for us that chores would be optional. One day work would not be optional for him, but right now it would be. Let me tell you though, he ALWAYS chooses to do them. The only condition we put on chores is that his responsibilities always have to be done first.
(NOTE: If your child is not reading yet, it would be easy to draw pictures next to the words)
A hiccup I had for a long time in introducing chores was I saw all these fancy/crazy organized charts that locked me into doing laundry every Tuesday and vacuuming every Friday. I don’t really structure my house cleaning that firmly and wanted the flexibility to decide day by day what activity would work best. So…. as you can see from the picture, it is a simple list posted on the refrigerator that has a small black magnet that I put next to the task each morning. By the time he has finished his responsibilities, I have figured out what housework needs to be completed.
How much do you pay them?
We pay him .50 cents a chore and give him that option 6 days a week. That totals about $3/week. We liked that amount because he could go spend it on something right away if he wanted to, but if he wanted something of quality, he would have to learn to save.
Do you let them spend it on whatever they want?
We really do. But that being said, I have never been one to walk him around a toy store in my leisure time. To give you a couple of ideas, his last purchase was from Mast General Store. He had just seen the LEGO movie and became mesmerized by growing his very own crystal.
I would show a picture of the final product, but it is still materializing in the solution and should be another 7 days or so before finished. Clearly, he is VERY excited.
He also has fallen in love with taking things apart. For awhile, this was a BIG problem in the house and severely hampered my level of peace during “quiet time”. I have since learned to give him different projects of MY choosing for him to take apart and he is also welcome to spend his money at the thrift store purchasing (preferably broken) electronics. Spending all his money at Menchie’s for frozen yogurt isn’t a rough way to spend the evening either!
If you are thinking of beginning this journey of chores, I hope it blesses you as much as it has us! It might take a couple of weeks to establish a new routine in the mornings and evenings, but the payoff is worth it!