Tip Tuesday — Put them To Work

How do you get your kids to work FOR you, not against you? Last night we gave Laylee her first allowance so we could teach her about saving money and paying tithing. She was pretty much stoked that 5 of the shiny monies (dimes) went into her pink pig’s belly.

I’m not sure if she understands the tithing thing but she did keep saying that her savings box was for college. We gave her several options for the use of her 40 large, but she insisted that her savings were for college. Nice. At this rate, she will have her bachelor’s in approximately… never.

When I explained what allowance was, I told her that she would also be expected to do more “responsibilities” around the house. She was very excited about this plan. Responsibilities = big-girlness. Big-girlness = eating as many peeps as you can fit in your mouth because you’re tall enough to reach the cupboard of coma-inducing refined sugar products.

Currently she helps me set the table, clear her place, “make the bed” (cackle), and “dust.” Not bad for a three year old, but I still don’t think she’s earning her keep.

When we were young, my mom made chores fun by having us “play vacuum cleaner” (Dealers were exempt.). Yes, she trained us all to be dealers. We also tried various chore charts. These were more fun when we were younger and not as able – To Deal. (Isn’t that the name of a Mandy Moore flick?)

Some were not so much fun, such as the “15 minute blitz.” This involved my mom running around like crazy, talking really fast and peppily urging us on like a cheerleader as we tried to make it look like our limbs were moving quickly to clean the house, while making sure that we were cleaning less than our siblings. I HATED the 15 minute blitz with all of my soul. I am SO using it on my kids. I will also be singing the “Good Morning To You” song as I flip on their light and sing tales of orange juice and “get out of bed you lazy bum.” They will LOVE it.

How do you get your sweet little freeloaders to start earning* their 25 cents per week, not to mention all the food and toilet paper they consume? (Yes, I do mean eating toilet paper. Another day, another story about my kids finding ways to be absolutely disgusting at lightning speed. If I’d just been two seconds faster, I could have stopped it. Two seconds slower and I wouldn’t have had to witness it. But hey, I dip my Oreos. I guess TP ain’t the only thing that tastes better when wet.)

*I don’t think chores should be directly linked to allowance. I’d love your opinions on that issue too.

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31 Responses to Tip Tuesday — Put them To Work

  1. Jeana says:

    I agree on not linking chores to allowance. I just wrote a book on it, infact. You can see it in Shannon’s comment section at Rocks in My Dryer.

  2. I also think that chores should not be linked to allowance. In our house, chores are linked to privileges (visit a friend, use the computer, watch TV, etc. None of that until chores are done)
    Now that some of our children are older (14 and 10) we do have certain chores that we pay them to do, because they are bigger jobs. No work, no pay.

  3. Jennie C. says:

    In our house, the kids of helpful age (three or four) get three dollars a week. This is to teach them about money, not about chores. $1 is for spending, $1 is for saving, and $1 is for church. The kids of really helpful age get an extra spending dollar.

    Chores are done because we are a messy family and we all need to help clean up our messes. Basic chores, like cleaning up after dinner and making the house livable after a long day of living in it. Extra chores are worth a “credit” (quarter). Extra chores are dusting the baseboards, vacuuming the van, shoveling out the fireplace, sweeping the sidewalk, cleaning out the cupboard where the trash can lives, etc. Pretty much anything I don’t want to do gets hired out at twenty five cents a pop.

    On the other hand, they can lose credits (demerits) for work done poorly or incompletely, or for walking with muddy shoes through the freshly cleaned living room.

    This is all accomplished through the judicious use of key tags with little pluses and minuses on them and a small plaque with a coat hook. And the knowledge that kids are willing workers who want to be valued and productive members of society.

  4. Kim C. says:

    We don’t give allowances at all, but we do have our children do daily chores plus help out when asked. And they have other ways of earning money.
    Two ways we have of getting “general pick-up” done quickly:
    3 minute timer: like your mom’s 15 minute blitz, but less ambitious. We set a timer for 3 minutes and run around getting as much done as possible. Maybe the shorter time inspires, because we find these rather exciting most of the time. It’s amazing what you can get done with 10 or 14 helpful hands!
    Age pickup (or if it’s really bad, Double-Your-Age-Pickup) – the 4yo picks up and puts away 4 things, 6yo does 6, etc. Usually the slower workers find themselves picking lint out of the carpet to get their last few items.
    They usually have pity and help me find my, er, 29 things. Yeah, 29.

  5. Sarah says:

    I agree – chores shouldn’t necessarily be tied to allowance – I think everyone in the household should contribute to its upkeep, simply out of respect for home and family (‘course, my house is a disaster zone right now, so maybe we shouldn’t go by me, eh?).

    The best way to get my nearly 4 year old to help out? Convenience cleaning products! The Swiffer Carpet Flick is our friend. My Princess loves to use it, and it actually works, and it keeps Pumpkin (9 months old) from picking up lint with her recently honed pincer grasp and eating floor fuzz all day.

  6. KEP says:

    I’m sort of torn between “in this family everyone needs to do their part and do you see me getting paid for doing my chores?” and “in this society you do get paid for doing work and we’re teaching you that if you’re lazy you don’t get money”. I think when my daughter turns three we’ll delve into this more. Right now she has a job chart and she’s perfectly happy to do things for stickers. I may have extra jobs she can earn commission for later.

  7. My daughter gets paid when she does things that are really MY job, such as feeding the baby while I shower, or playing with the baby while I’m cooking. Keeping her room clean, and vaccuuming are her jobs to help pitch in and therefore she gets zero. Oh, I give her $.50 for everytime she helps me. 10% goes in the plate at church. She gets paid every two weeks on my hubby’s pay day 🙂

  8. Grammy says:

    Over the years, we’ve tried it all. At one time we did tie chores to allowance. (Remember when chores were clicked off on a chart and allowance was paid in nickels – all laid our in a row so that you could see them slipping back into the big jar for every day your chores weren’t done? That was physically painful!) But it wasn’t my favorite way.

    I Loved the 15 minute blitz! And if you’ll remember, I blitzed too. I wasn’t JUST a cheerleader.

    When you were much older, the Zone approach worked very well. Since you all have very busy and varied schedules, having each of you in charge of 1 zone that could be done when you could work it in (provided the whole house was clean all together by Sunday morning) was a workable solution.

    I do think that everyone who lives in the home needs to do their part to help make the house liveable (in age appropriate ways). It not only teaches skills and responsibility, it keeps Mom from becoming a slave to everyone.

    Another great 3 year old chore is gathering the trash cans.

    You’re doing a great job!

  9. Traci says:

    My #1 rule is to resist the urge to “re-do” their “work.” Sometimes the results are not perfect or the way I would do it, but they are sincerely trying to help. I made this rule before I had kids, when I was the oldest daughter left in charge of six younger siblings. It’s put to the test a lot, but I still believe that a lot of praise, a little thank you, and more or less leaving whatever they did ALONE goes a lot farther in helping kids WANT to participate in the family work and home upkeep, and that’s more than half the battle. I have had situations, of course, when something had to be done to remedy their efforts, but using it as a chance to work beside them and teach them the right way to do it is so much more effective than just doing it all over myself in martyr-like fashion. They’re more likely to help again when they feel truly encouraged.

    I’d have to agree that allowance is better used to teach about money rather than housework, since every member of the family should help out just by virtue of being part of the family. However, sometimes need a little push in the right direction and incentives do work.

    One idea that has worked marvelously for my aunt’s family of school-age children is a “learning jar” program. Each child has a jar or cup with his/her name on it and all the cups sit on a shelf in the kitchen. There is one additional jar labeled, “Learning.” At the beginning of the week, each child starts with $10 in quarters in her jar. During the week, each time she leaves her homework in the middle of the table, fails to put her laundry in the hamper, leaves shoes in the middle of the stairs, or complains when asked to set the table or take out the trash, a quarter moves from her jar to the learning jar. At the end of the week, the child gets to keep whatever money is left in her jar. (The quarters in the learning jar are recycled into the next week’s divy of money.) It has worked wonders for my younger cousins, as they have started being conscientious about the little messes they leave all around that mom used to take care of, and there is less sibling riot over doing chores, since anyone who bellyaches loses a quarter. Plus, they aren’t entirely getting an allowance for doing squat – they do get more for being more of a family player.

  10. Wow, great minds think alike, I guess–I blogged on this very subject yesterday! Everyone’s comments on my site have been so informative, confirming the direction Hubs and I were already leaning.

    As for getting them to be helpful, it sounds corny, but the best thing is catching them being helpful and making a huge ol’ fuss about it. “Thank you so much–you are really helping me!”, etc. This really seems to be a motivator. Of course, they still think I have a modicum of worth; when they’re teenagers we’ll need a new plan altogether…

  11. Tess says:

    what a sucker I was! my mom and dad made a chart to reward us for keeping our room clean 6 out of 7 days a week for 6 weeks. That’s 36 out of 42 days, right? Our reward? …drumroll… our choice of a 12 pack of pop. Which maybe cost $2. For 36 days of hard labor. And we hoarded those cans of pop too, because all we ever got was koolaid and sweet tea. So, you know, I don’t think it matters the amount, or the reward, as long as you make it soooo desireable that they think they are really getting something!

  12. Shan says:

    I have tried to make chores and helping out seem like the greatest fun ever for my three year old. We really take the time to let her know how much her helping out is appreciated. We really try not to correct how she’s done something like make her bed. It seems to be working because some mornings she will get up and make her own bed without being asked.

    We also use a sticker reward system for problem areas. She knows that X stickers equals some sort of treat like picking something fun for dinner. We aren’t currently using it for any chore related problems but to encourage her to try new foods.

    We have our own business so she does get paid if she helps out cleaning the equipment. Her Papa has a handyman business so she’ll get paid if she works with him as well. That money goes into her piggy bank and eventually into her bank account.

  13. Karen says:

    I’m going to go out on a limb and be the odd duck and say that we do give an allowance for things our son does over and above his regular household expectations/responsibilities.

    Everyone collectively flog me now.

    He enjoys marking the x’s off his chart and earning small bits of money to spend at his discretion. I just don’t see a problem with that. All things in moderation.

  14. Heth says:

    We have two big poster board signs taped to the fridge. One is morning chores, one is after school chores. I drew little pictures next to each job for the little ones who can’t read yet. Mostly it is just a reminder as to what they need to be doing as they wander aimlessly around the house in the morning when they are supposed to be getting ready for school.

    Before school includes:
    eat breakfast
    brush your teeth
    get dressed
    shoes on
    backpacks packed
    make your beds (yeah right)
    feed the rabbit

    After school looks like this:

    Papers out of your backpacks and into the “basket”
    Put laundry away
    empty garbage cans
    unload the dishwasher
    set the table
    clear the table
    take dirty laundry to the laundry room

    Those last five rotate and each kid has specific jobs for a few months. This system has worked well for now, but I am always prepared to change things up. Our kids get no money for their work because I am a slave driver.
    *whip cracking*

  15. YR says:

    word to Karen- I grew up in a house where we only grudgingly helped our Mom do anything- we were horrible and she kept playing the martyr. However, as a teenager i would mow our humongous lawn (about an acre) everyweek and never received any thanks or pay, two things I think would have motivated us to help more. I think it is essential for kids to learn that work will earn them money and then that money can be translated into buying things they want for themselves- which i think fosters independence and a sense of figuring out what one really wants. my husband said that growing up he never received gifts (other than bdays and holdiays) he didn’t earn. that cabbage patch he was finally able to buy meant so much more to him than the toys i had that I’d play with for a week and then not care about anymore.

  16. Kristen says:

    We just started giving Care Bear $5 a week for allowance. Some of it is linked to chores (she makes her bed, cleans up her messes when she’s done playing etc.), but it is also a way to help her learn to be financially responsible. We make her save $1, tithe $1, and the rest she gets to spend, if she chooses. It’s been pretty successful so far.

  17. jenny says:

    I tried to leave a comment earlier but blogger was grouchy…

    In our house chores and allowance go hand in hand. The boy, 9, feeds the dog, makes his bed, puts away his clean laundry, does the recycling and helps clear the table & the girl, 5, sets the table and makes her bed.

    If a chore isn’t done consistently through the week, cash gets minused from the allowance. The son is so, so jealous of his friends who get an allowance with no chore stipulation…but he knows in this house no work = no allowance.

    He’s come to realize that helping out in other ways, without being prodded, will lead to additional privileges for him (staying up later to watch baseball, stuff like that)when the situation allows.

    I’m a big proponent of ‘if it ain’t broke…’ but I love seeing how everyone else does it. Woot! for your tip tuesday 🙂

  18. brooke says:

    When my mom was young, her older brother “let” her iron his shirts. It was such an “honor and privilege” to do so. Not saying that Laylee should be anywhere the iron, but that angle may work for other chores.

  19. emlouisa says:

    My kid gets no allowance since he is only 2 1/2 and would most likely try to EAT the money. He does have a job though. He puts sorts the recycling and takes his little shopping cart into the garage and fills it with bottled water, then puts them in the fridge. Yeah, the kid has it rough.

    Great topic though! It’s interesting to see what everyone’s ideas are.

  20. Lauren says:

    My mom did the “blitz” thing too. I thought she made it up! Crazy.
    Sug, whose nanny I am, is 18 months and he is a big help — he can load the dishwasher with his own silverware, take small bags of trash down to the garbage chute, wipe off a table with a rag,
    Allowance wasn’t tied to “the things we do because we’re a part of a family” (ie, helping with dinner, keeping my room clean) when I was growing up, but when we were younger we got extra money for above and beyond things — my favorite was a penny for every stick we picked up after Nebraska storms.

  21. Wow, I am so thankful for Tip Tuesdays!!! I have been thinking about this alot as my oldest is turning 6. So far there has been no allowance associated with her “chores”.

    I do expect her to keep up her things because she values the worth of her things, like making her bed because she likes to sleep in one (not that I would take it away, but to know that it is nice to have one), putting her toys away properly because they are fun to play with and get broken, lost, or put away for a week if not. THings like that. I want her to feel that having things, even some of the basics, are privileges and should not be taken for granted.

    Now for work she does over the call of duty earns her extra privileges like tv time, play dates, extra time with mom and dad, special daddy-daughter dates, etc.

    I do want to teach her about money but find that I also don’t want to teach her that the purpose of work is for money. We are industrious because being idle is a sin. (I hope that I am not coming off as to strong, but I have been thinking about this A LOT lately.)

    Eventually we will work because we want to and gain enjoyment from it.

    I think I am back to square one again.

  22. Gabriela says:

    My kids are still pretty young (8,5,3). I try to have something fun to do in the afternoon (usually swimming) and we have to get certain things done before we can go out. That usually gets them working.

    I like the comment about not being critical of the work they DO do.

    My kids get allowance, not attached to normal chores (cleaning room, putting clothes away, setting and clearing table, etc.) except for when they are total pigs and then I clean their room and charge them a large % of their allowance. I do offer harder chores that can earn them a little extra money.

    This all works much better when I take the time to take them to the store and let them spend their own money. That really makes an impact.

  23. My response is toooooo lengthy to put in the comments section of yours and Shannon’s blog, so I posted them on my blog today.

    Thanks for keeping a delightful blog for the rest of us to enjoy.

  24. Sugarmama says:

    I occasionally pay my older daughter to pick up all the pine cones and fallen sticks out of our pine tree-stuffed yard. She’s always extremely pleased at the opportunity because she’s under the impression that a few dollars is A LOT of money. So really, I think the trick is to keep them in the dark about the spending power of a dollar as long as possible!

  25. Stephanie says:

    I agree with not linking chores to allowance. This is my opinion, so take it or leave it, but I think kids should contribute to the household because they are part of the famliy and families should all work together.

    We give our daughter $ when she needs it for things like movies or a treat at the store and we discuss ways she can earn it at home (extra chores, watching her little sister extra carefully, doing “mom” chores, etc). She is good at paying tithing on money that she comes across other ways. Every family does things differently, trial and error is how we each figure it out, you will find your way. I wish you lots of luck.

    Another good 3-year old chore is wiping the baseboards. Give them a wet rag and some simple instructions and you have sparkling clean baseboards!!!

  26. Lei says:

    I expect my children to help out, but at barely 7 and almost 4, they are not yet earning allowances. I figure that isn’t necessary yet because they haven’t really grasped responsibility just yet. Perhaps next year – the age of accoutability – will be a good time for my oldest to start earning keep, lol.

    There are some things my kids are happy to do (dust, vacuum, sort laundry), others they need to *learn* to be happy to do (pick up toys, put AWAY folded laundry). Or, at least fake it. 😉

  27. lammyann says:

    K.. the reasons we do not give allowance are:
    1) kids figured out really fast that they could just say they didn’t want to get paid, thus didn’t do the chore.
    2) they will have PLENTY of time to learn how to manage their money-birthday/christmas/holiday money is sufficient until they’ve gotten older and now mow lawns or babysit and do other odd jobs.
    3)We’re just too poor. AND we never could agree on what was appropriate. Especially with 5 kids.
    Just my 2 cents.

  28. KC says:

    I get my one year old to work by putting her behind a laundry basket full of clothes, then yelling “PUSH!” She will actually push it down the hall and into the bedroom. With a proper harness….the possibilities are limitless.

  29. Nicole says:

    This is a good topic. I have always wondered what people think about this. I agree that chores and allowance shounldn’t be linked, but I also like the idea of giving them special jobs that they can earn money for doing. I mean, every one likes to be rewarded for doing a good job. I’ll have to weigh in again on this issue in a few years when my sone is older. Right now I’m just happy if he doesn’t throw ALL his food on the floor at any given meal.

  30. krista says:

    Wow-0 she is getting an allowance! The thought of me doing that for Aidan has never even dawned on me… Hmmm….

    I used to get paid for chores growing up.

    Now that I have my own place and don’t get paid to do it, I rarely do chores.

    I guess it didn’t work.

  31. krista says:

    OK- I have to correct my last post. FOR THE RECORD- I did not intentionally type: Wow-0.

    Somehow that was a typo. It was just meant to say: Wow.

    There. Fixed.

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