When we first opened our store, our kids were only 9 months and 3 years old so they have literally grown up with Mum and Dad owning a toy shop. Every kid's dream hey!
They wanted everything. "Mum can I have _?" seemed to be a daily question -over and over again until the answer was finally a yes.
And then it started again.
Now we have always been determined to not raise entitled children, so something had to be done. I was sick of the melt downs because I said "no", (oh dear God – the melt downs!). I had to remove the word NO from my vocabulary and help them make good choices about what they want and why.
So one day I created a chores chart.
Now, with my youngest only being 4 at that stage, I wasn't expecting her to understand it but I thought that it would help my eldest with some responsibility. Star charts had never worked in our house (I know because we had tried all of the charts that you can buy for various reasons) with no success, so I thought about the problem and considered what could help everyone in the family be calmer.
But before I delve into that, a bit of background with regard to my opinion of kids doing chores.
Firstly, I firmly believe that kids should, as part of their daily living, clean up after themselves. So tidying up their rooms, putting their washing in the basket, bringing dishes into the kitchen etc.
But the rest, in my opinion is my job! As the adult it’s my job to do the washing, do the dishes, clean the house and make meals etc. I know some people will argue against this and that’s ok, we can agree to disagree but to me, the kid's job is to have fun - to play, grow and learn.
The only other thing we require the kids to do is to feed and clean up after their pets - if they don’t do this, they’ll die. They want the pets, so it’s their responsibility to look after them - no one else will.
Secondly, I don’t pay my kids pocket money. I don’t get paid just for living my life, so neither do my kids. I provide them everything they need, but I don’t buy them ‘treats’ unless it’s their birthday, half birthday (yes, we do half birthdays - it's fun!) or Christmas.
So, with all that in mind, if the kids choose to help me do my work and do some household chores, then they get paid - if they choose not to then that’s ok too, it’s my job, so I’ll do it. This attitude also stops any of MY AGRO over the kids not helping around the house, because it’s not their job. They need to pack up after themselves and not kill their pets – easy!
I know so many families where chores are a huge sticking point and source of many arguments - the kids don’t want to help, parents think they should and BANG, there it is - everyone’s agro!
If I'm too busy doing my job (their optional chores), to play or read a story, I simply say, "I can’t right now, Mum's busy doing her jobs". The kids quickly saw that if they did contribute, it actually becomes a game, it’s actually not that hard and they get our undivided attention. So to them, instead of chores being a chore, they equal time back with Mum and Dad to do fun stuff.
AND they get paid to do it - win, win, win!!
So how do we make it work?
Well, we have a chores board and it looks like this.
Every year we re-do the board because as they get older and more responsible, the jobs get harder. At the start it was, sweep the kitchen, put the washing in the machine etc. Now as they get older it’s, do the dishes, take the bins out, clean the toilets, mop the floors etc.
To re-do the board, we all sit down as a team and look at everything that needs to be done around the house and decide what they WOULD be able to do - not want to do, but what physically they are capable of doing. Then we decide how much each chore should be worth; the horrid jobs that take ages earn them more than a quick tidy up.
We then get crafty - we use pegs, cardboard and the hot glue gun. Nothing fancy, just some words on a page.
Then we add the money to the job and stick the board on the wall. Every time they're bored or want something to do, I suggest they could do a chore. As soon as it's complete (maybe not to my standards but so long as full effort has been put in), they get the money off the chores board and into the money box it goes.
If they do the job, they get the cash! Simple!
So there is money sitting on the fridge that is theirs for the taking anytime they like, so if they really want something and don’t have enough money, they work for it and in just a short time they have enough to buy whatever they like.
We have trialled other methods before landing on this about 7 years ago and it works!
What I have noticed since starting this, is that the kids actually don’t want very much at all. Now they know the value of money, they don’t want Pokemon cards, Shopkins, LOLs or whatever is the rage at school that week because they know how hard they have to work to get the money. This has increased our minimalist life substantially.
Today they both have over $700 in their money boxes so they can really buy whatever they want, which they love. But they don't spend it on nonsense - they save up for something that is really important to them!
Most importantly, I no longer have to tell them no if they ask for something. We simply have the discussion about how much it is and now that they understand the value of money, they decide they would like to continue saving so they move on. If it is something they really want, at least I know they've really thought about it - they either get something they really want, or don’t, but I don’t ever have to say NO – winning!!
Younger kids who aren’t yet interested in money but old enough to start taking pride in being able to help, can be more persuaded if you give them options on what they’d choose to help with and also by making cleaning a game! At age 3 they are usually beginning to recognise the needs of others and glow with satisfaction when they can show you how clever they are!
Here are a few game ideas that work well for many families and you’ll be sure to praise them for it.
I hope this helps with some of the battles you’re having. I'd love to hear your family's story and find out if this system works for you!
If you have any questions or would like clarification, just send me a message and I’ll get back to you!