I haven’t blogged about Chores for Children since Wally was 4 or 5.
I know that touchy-feely parents are all into the whole idea that assigned or even *gasp* paid chores are terrible for children and surely will lead our kids to be mass murderers when they grow up, but it’s a risk I’m comfortable taking.
I believe that giving our children some money that they earned through their work and are expected to spend on their “treats” actually teaches them a little about how the world works. 🙂
Several years ago, I started paying Wally for chores. Not all of his chores, but the portion of his assigned tasks that were things he was doing for me. They’re technically my chores. He does them for me, he gets paid. The deal I made with him was that he couldn’t decide *not* to do them any more once he started, unless we sat down and renegotiated. He gets paid for the farm chores – feeding and watering the rabbits and chickens, checking on their well-being, and alerting me to problems that arise. He must do this faithfully and mindfully, since there are lives at stake. For this, he is paid $2 a week.
He recently expressed a desire to have an opportunity to earn more money, and together we brainstormed household chores that he could take over and for which I would be willing to pay him. We decided he’d work towards the goal of taking over the family laundry entirely. I haven’t decided what to pay him for this yet – we’re still working out the details. 🙂 It’s complicated by the fact that PART of the laundry is already his (nonpaid) responsibility.
In addition to his paid chores, Wally (currently 9) is expected to help out with other tasks, both assigned and not. He is of course expected to pick up after himself, and to help pick up after his siblings. He keeps asking if he can learn to wash the dishes, but that just hasn’t happened yet for a variety of reasons, but he does clear the table after dinner, and help set the table if he’s not busy. He is expected to help as needed, without needing to be asked, and he does ok.
Wally used to have a chore chart. Not to earn stickers or prizes, but because we all function a bit better when we have a written list to remind us of things we don’t want to forget. I didn’t want to make it my life’s work to remind Wally to do his daily tasks, but he struggled to remember them on his own. (Just as I, and probably you, struggle to remember the things you meant to do unless you write them down. There are several entire companies devoted to enabling people to write down what they’re supposed to do on any given day.)
Wally’s first chore chart contained four things: Brush Teeth morning, Brush Teeth night, Pick Up Toys, Draw Mommy a Picture. He made it. He did those things every day and happily marked them off on his list. 🙂
A few years ago (age 7?) his chore chart contained: Practice Kung Fu 20 minutes. (A timer was purchased for this.) Brush Teeth after breakfast. Read 1 Chapter. Pick Up. Over the years we’ve added a few items (practice guitar 20 minutes, for example, and an increase in his required reading time).
This year (9), we no longer use the written list. He is able to remember on his own his daily tasks without being reminded (except, evidently, when I’m in the hospital with T). But we have moved on to a different type of written list. Wally has a Things I’m Supposed To Do chart through which he can earn an additional 5 or 15 minutes of game time every day. It contains things like Listen when someone’s talking to me, Only use one glass each day, Help without being asked, and other misc. things that I would like him to be working on. It has worked pretty good so far at a few habits we wanted him to either establish or beak.
A few weeks ago, Genna found a printable Dora Chore Chart on Nick Jr’s website. Of course she *had* to print it out. And since we have a laminator, I laminated it and we made magnets for the stickers and we pimped Wally’s old chore chart and made it a Dora chart. Genna’s list contains, in picture form, Brush Teeth Morning, Brush Teeth Night, Pick Up Toys, and Help Out. Then she added Make A Snowman, Pick Up PlayDough, Pick Up Kitchen Stuff (her toys), Wash your Hands, and also has a picture for Shut The Gate to remind Wally to shut the gate when he goes outside. She didn’t quite get the whole Chore Chart idea, lol. But she’s thrilled with it.
In addition to those “chores,” Genna, at 4, is also expected to help out. She can fold some of the laundry (washcloths and rags), she clears her own dishes, she is expected to pick up after herself (and she does, usually without being reminded), and she puts her own dirty laundry in the correct hamper. She typically also does any task requested cheerfully.
Teddy, at this point, does nothing. He helps administer his feeds and meds sometimes, I guess, lol. He will help pick up, as long as the next activity is Take It Back Out Of The Basket. You might think that, at nearly 2, he’s able to help, but his delays just stack up against him. He helps right now by working on improving his walking skills and playing and exploring his world.
In our house, children do not help with floor care (right now, I need to be really assy about clean floors), making the beds (I make my own, if you can call straightening the sheets “making the bed,” and the other bed where the kids sleep never gets made, and I could not care less), putting away dishes (the only cupboard for dishes is just not accessible to children, and that’s ok – we break enough glasses as it is), or washing windows (our windows are tricky and if you’re not careful on some of them, you end up pulling out all of the old glazing and losing the pane of glass. yes, we should fix this.), but anything else is fair game. If I’m doing something, and the kids aren’t otherwise engaged in constructive activities, I will invite one or more to help me. Sometimes the invitation is phrased more like a command, lol.
So, Genna’s helped me make Teddy’s blends. Wally’s helped me with Wallypop stuff. They both helped put away groceries. Genna’s disinfected doorknobs. 🙂 Wally’s scrubbed the toilet. Wally is also learning how to cook.