Chores for Kids
Working together on chores is a necessary part of living in a family. The amount of mess we generate in a day is pretty incredible, but we are getting to the point where we are starting to see the fruits of our labors in teaching the boys to work. For years it was more work for me to include the boys in household chores, but now it’s paying off! The three older boys can all fold and put away laundry independently. Aidan can clean bathrooms, wash dishes, do laundry, and he can get the kitchen really clean! Gresham can vacuum and dust, and he is the best at cleaning up the game room because he is good at organizing.
As our boys get older, it always helps me to talk to other moms and see what jobs their kids are doing and how they are handling chores. So I thought you all might like to see what we do at our house. Keep in mind that every family is different and has a different schedule and different needs, so I am certainly not saying every house should look just like ours!
Required Chores and Paid Chores
Each of our boys receives a weekly allowance starting at age 5. They also each have required daily chores. We don’t see the allowance as “paying for chores” but rather as having work to do because they are part of the family and having their own money to handle because they are part of the family. (The amount of money they receive in their allowance would be a really low hourly rate if we were paying them to do chores!) We also have a list of paid chores that the boys may do to earn extra money.
Out of their allowance, each boy sets aside money to give to the church and to save. Aidan gets $3.50 a week. (I’m sure this is low, but with our income and the amount of children we have, this is what we can pay.) 50 cents goes to his church jar, $1.50 goes to savings, and $1.50 goes to spending. We don’t have hard and fast rules on how long they have to save their savings money. Basically, whatever they want to save for is fine (within reason!). What we want to discourage is spending all of their allowance every week on candy or impulse buys.
My husband recently set up new checklists for the boys with their daily and weekly tasks. The weekly tasks can be done on whatever day works out, depending on the week. We usually have a late afternoon chore time in which they must choose at least one of their weekly tasks to complete. Saturday morning is usually a big chore time.
Aidan (age 11)
Meal clean-up: Breakfast – clear the island
Lunch – clear the table and island
Dinner – dishes
Take out the outside trash cans on trash day
Vacuum the stairs
Vacuum upstairs (his room, game room, Janie’s room)
Dust the game room
Vacuum the van (this doesn’t get done every week, although it probably should)
Clean two bathrooms
Gresham (age 7, turning 8 in 3 months)
Feed the chameleon
Meal clean-up: Breakfast – unload dishwasher
Lunch – load dishwasher
Dinner – Clear the island
Dog poop pick-up
Sweep the back porch
Bedroom – dust and vacuum
Feed the dog
Pick up toys
Meal clean-up: Breakfast – put away silverware from the dishwasher
Lunch – Sweep
Dinner – Clear the table
Empty bathroom trash cans
Dust baseboards and windowsills
Take recycling to the outside can
Sweep the front porch – 25 cents
Make Jonathan’s bed – 25 cents
Make mom & dad’s bed – 50 cents
Vacuum master bedroom – 50 cents
Sweep garage – 50 cents
Vacuum out Dad’s car – $2.00
Mop the kitchen – $1.50
Bathe the dog – $2.00
Clean the master bathroom – $2.00
Chores Troubleshooting: (Because making the plan is easy, but implementing the plan is another thing!)
Addressing the heart issues behind working, and what the Bible has to say:
My husband and I put together a printable Bible study about work and laziness. This is for kids and parents to do together. You can find that post here: Printable Bible Study on Work and Responsibility.
What happens if the kids don’t do their chores?
We pretty much lost all sense of routine in the months leading up to Janie’s birth and right after she was born. Life happens, and routines get tossed! When we implemented our new checklists, the boys showed very little motivation. They woke up every day with the expectation that they were going to enjoy a leisurely breakfast followed by endless free time. If I didn’t remind them, they didn’t do their jobs. We feel like especially at Aidan’s age (11), we should not be reminding every day for teeth brushing, bed making, and instrument practice. Gresham (7) should be starting to remember his jobs and may need occasional reminders, not CONSTANT reminders.
S0… We tried a new plan, and it’s WORKING! Friday night is movie night at our house, and so Friday night became the perfect time for a chore “make up” session. The older two boys are responsible for checking off their tasks each day. If it’s not important to them to remember to get their jobs done, they can make them up during the Friday night movie time. If they fail to vacuum during the week, they can do it during movie night. If they fail to practice their instrument for two days during the week, they can do a double practice session on Friday night. This plan has been pretty effective! If we have a crazy day with lots of appointments, I may choose to excuse them from their chores that day. But if we’re home, they need to do them.
Also – periodically rotating who does what chores can help keep things more interesting!
What happens if the chores are done poorly?
Learning to clean is a process. If Owen (age 5) overlooks some toys in the game room, I will remind him. However, if he is laying on the floor reading a book instead of picking up toys, that’s another thing. At our house, doing a poor job on chores means that you need to do extra chores so that you can have some more practice. Thankfully, Dad has taken charge of this and often supervises extra work in the evenings if I have not been able to do this during the day. I think that with boys especially, it’s so helpful if Dad takes a role in teaching them to be hard workers.
What happens if the kids never want to do any of the paid chores?
At our house, the boys generally ignore the paid chore list if there is not something they are currently saving for. Awhile back, I noticed that no one was ever doing any of the paid chores. We evaluated and decided that we had bought them a few things instead of making them spend their own money. If you want your kids to show the initiative to do paid chores, make sure that you are not funding their wants!
Also, if paid chores are not completed, we often do them as a family without pay. For example, the floor just needs to be mopped and mopped often. We usually end up doing the kitchen floor together when it needs to be done, and no one gets paid.
What if we have never asked our kids to do any chores? How can I get them to do them now?
If you have never really asked your kids to do chores but you want to get started, I would recommend starting with an after-meal routine where every member of the family has a job to do, even the toddler if you have one. Mom and Dad too. If your kids are not used to doing chores, it probably won’t work to ask them to clean while you check e-mails. Make it a family affair. After a meal, one person can sweep, while someone else clears the table and someone else puts plates in the dishwasher. Little ones can throw away napkins and put the butter back in the refrigerator. Turn on music and make it a positive time to be together. If meals are rushed because of schedules, try a Saturday morning routine where everyone helps start laundry, straighten the house, or whatever tasks need to be done.
For suggestions on what jobs kids can do at each age, check out our Guide to Chores by Room and by Age.