To read more about the contributing author Tove Maren, visit her blog,
Mama In The Now.
“Can I PLEASE do some chores?!”
“Is it OK if I set the table after I clean my room?”
“He did more chores than I did. Can I please do some more? What would
you like me to help you with?”
A few years ago, I would have NEVER expected to hear those words from our
kids. But today they are a reality, a normal part of our daily lives.
It’s both amazing and wonderful, and certainly not something I take
Two years ago, our big kids (then 7 and 5 years old) asked to do chores
and wanted allowances. It was clearly time for us to have a good talk
with them about their responsibilities at home.
They knew that we all pitch in to help each other, especially because we
are a big family, they got that part. The boys had also learned that they
have to contribute their own money to pay for toys they want outside of
Christmas and birthdays.
My husband and I agreed, instead of handing the kids a set amount of money
at the end of each week, we would rather incentivize them to do age-appropriate
chores around the house. Some days I wonder if we are sending them the
best message by “paying” them to help around the house. But
the beauty of parenthood is that we have the right to change our minds
at any given moment.
For now, I tell myself that we are teaching them about fiscal responsibility
and they need to earn their allowances. It’s the message we are
sending them at the present time. If revisions are necessary, we will
handle those as eloquently as we navigate any curveballs this fun game
of parenting throws us.
This project was a lot of fun to prepare for them. It is simple, quick
and inexpensive to implement!
Our System: Chore Sticks!
- This system is great for younger kids, as it gives them control over how
much they earn each week and which chores they do.
- We kept the chores simple, fun and age appropriate. The object of the “game”
is to teach the kids that they earn more when they work harder. This a
great incentive if there is a particular toy they are saving up for.
- The main jar contains all the “chore sticks” at the beginning
of each week.
- Each day they will pick one or more chores to complete.
- Once they have done a chore the corresponding stick is moved to the jar
with their name.
- There are also “Bonus Star” sticks, which we, the parents,
may put in their jar if we see they are doing something super special.
- Once their sticks have been earned they cannot be taken away from them,
except for the “Bonus Star” – that stick may be removed
if they misbehave.
- At the end of the week, their sticks are counted and they receive $0.25
per stick. Then all the sticks are returned to the main jar in preparation
for a new week.
The verdict: Our kids LOVE the chore system. They embrace the control they
have over how much they earn each week, and they make sure to complete
one or two chores each day.
• Glass jars
- Wash and dry the jars. If you use pasta sauce jars, soak them in soapy
water for 30 minutes to easily remove the label. Make sure the inside
of the jar is thoroughly clean, so the paint adheres.
- Pour paint INSIDE the jar, squirting it as far back into the jar as possible.
Work over the kitchen sink, so the excess paint drips out. Swirl and move
the jar around until the entire inside is coated with paint.
- Place the painted jar upside down on top of several pieces of paper towels.
Depending on how much excess paint there is, you will have to change the
paper towels every 10-15 minutes, to make sure it doesn’t bleed through.
- Turn the jars right side up for SEVERAL days to ensure that they are completely dry.
- Finish the jars by wrapping ribbon around the top. Secure the ribbon with
a dab of glue.
- Fill the jars halfway with sand so the chore sticks can stick up and be seen.
- Write chores on the popsicle sticks. Have fun with this step.
- Sit down with your kids and talk about which chores they would like to
do, or learn how to do.
- Kick your feet up as your kids clean your house, cook dinner and maybe
even make their beds.
My next project is to add a jar for my husband’s “chores.”
His chore sticks will say: “put dirty clothes in hamper,”
“lower the toilet seat,” “replace toilet paper when
you use the last square,” “put the milk back in the fridge”
and “take your shoes off inside the house!”
Have fun teaching your kids about responsibilities, money and ways they
can help around the house.