Personally, I hate doing chores. If someone paid me to do chores I don’t think it would make me any more likely to do them. Sadly, chores are a necessary, if annoying, part of life.
Many families enlist things like chore charts, or other reward systems, to encourage children to do more chores. We used to pay the kids (coins) based on the chores they completed, but we found it wasn’t much of a motivator for them. (They must take after their mom!)
We don’t reward chores in our house anymore, and I’ll tell you why.
I’m a lazy homemaker, and so is my husband. We don’t make our bed every day. There are often clothes on the dresser or the floor. (I call it my wear-again pile.) Our shoes may clutter up the entry way. I can’t ask my children to maintain a level of tidiness that is greater than our example. But when we’re put into a time-crunch (dinner guests or friends coming over) we all pull together and tidy up quickly and efficiently.
My girls are now of an age that they understand how a household runs. If we don’t do the laundry, we don’t have clean clothes. Same for the dishes. The chores are just a part of life and if we choose not to do them there are consequences.
Completing chores is it’s own reward.
I would love for someone to pay me after I put away all the laundry, or when I get the dishwasher filled and turned on, but in real life that doesn’t happen. So we don’t reward chores that are necessary to keep a household running. The girls know if their clothes don’t get in the hamper, they don’t get washed. And if I step on a toy on the floor, it gets thrown out (or so they think!) These are natural consequences when you don’t look after your stuff, and your household.
If they do something great – like sorting through toys and choosing some to give away – they do get a reward. We hold a yard sale and they get to keep what they make, or we donate the stuff and get an ice cream on the way home.
Raising my daughters to understand real life consequences is more important to me than making sure they make their bed. In our busy lives we do what we need to do to keep the household running fairly smoothly. Homework takes precedence over any chores or household jobs. And we try hard to give the kids unstructured play time most days, which to me is also more important than folding laundry.
My kids also know when I’m at my wits end. They can tell when I’m about to blow my top because I knocked over that pile of laundry in Emma’s room for the 5th time today. Sometimes they offer to help me out, which is a reward for me. It also shows me that they know how to take some responsibility for the running of the home. The girls often rally as a team and I’ve been known to reward chores with a kiss and high praise when they do something before I ask for the 18th time.
Do you have a chore system that works in your home? I like the idea of real-life rewards and consequences. If the girls wear something inappropriate to school (after we have a conversation about it at home first) I like that they get talked to there – or get blisters because they really shouldn’t have worn those shoes.
Let me know – in the comments – how you encourage your kids to help out around the house. I’m always looking for other (non reward based) tips for getting the girls to help out!