Making Chores and Allowance Work. Ideas Welcome!
It’s back to school time and back to chore time—and both can be a royal pain. Let’s face it, after a lazy summer of breaking rules and breakfast for dinner and ice cream for lunch, it’s time to get back to routines and schedules. And I’m not just talking about school. Our household chore routine is out of whack as well—my kids spent six weeks with their Dad in London, came home and apparently forgot how to pick up their clothes off the floor. Or put their dishes in the sink.
This is as a good a time as any to start an official chore list and a monetary allowance to make it stick.
Side note: I know that there are many, many thoughts on whether your child should actually get an allowance, and if so how much that should be. For the sake of this discussion, let’s assume your child is paid allowance of $1 for every birthday they have celebrated.
Here are some of the things I’ve just implemented to make chores and allowance more manageable:
1. Set aside a “chore day” (or night). It’s easier to keep track of chores when everyone in the family is doing them at the same time. We have a mid-week “tidy” night for light chores and Saturdays are usually our big cleaning day. I like to be able to walk around the house and quickly assess if the kids did their weekly chores, and if they were done the right way.
2. Show your tween what you expect. If you tell him to clean the bathroom, he’ll probably clean the bathroom to his standards. Been there, done that. Show him exactly what you expect, and make a checklist if you think it will help. And still don’t expect them to get it exactly right the first or second time.
3. Assign a value to each chore. My daughter earns $11 (because she’s 11 years old), and she has five chores of equal difficulty, each of which is worth $2, and one simple chore worth $1. If she decides that after doing chore 1-4, she’s too tired to empty the bathroom trash or put away the dishes, I can easily adjust her allowance. This way she gets the point that I expect all chores to be completed, whether it’s at the beginning or the end of the chore list.
4. Get your child a debit card. If I had a dollar for every time one of my kids walked into a store with their wallet, looked at something they wanted to buy, laid down their wallet with cash in it, then walked away… I would have about $50. After too many close calls, I decided to get each of my kids (ages seven and eleven) debit cards. I keep them in my wallet so they don’t get lost, and so I can have final say about what they buy help them make financial decisions.
A debit card will most likely be something that your child uses daily in their adult life anyway (if they don’t have chips in our brains by then), so it’s a good time for them to learn the link between their debit card and their bank account. A debit card is not just a piece of plastic, and their bank account balance isn’t just a random number. My children used to think money miraculously came out of the hole in the wall, no matter how many times I told them that you have to put money in to take it out.
3. Use an automatic bank transfer to pay your kids. So I don’t have to worry about having cash on “payday”—I barely carry cash at all myself, I’ve set up my bank account to automatically transfer my children’s allowance into their accounts. Let’s see if this works. The other great thing about automatic transfers is that you can easily cancel it or change it if the chores aren’t done correctly.
Do you have any other allowance and chores tips for me?