Wednesday, February 23, 2011

children and chores--what's working

I've seen many posts on managing children's chores, and plenty of pre-made charts and gadgets advertised to make it all easier.  The money was never there to invest in these things, and I never found the time to make anything permanent or durable.

We've tried different lists over the past few years, including paid chores and unpaid chores.  But each time, life with littles undermined consistency.

Still, the boys have made their beds and put their dirty clothes in the hamper for the past two years.  But guess what?  They still need reminding some days; it isn't automatic yet!  For that matter, flushing the toilet and washing hands afterwards isn't consistent yet either.  I've found that teaching boys hygiene and personal chores is quite the endeavor!

Rather than try another list of pre-set chores, I decided to retain just the two unpaid bed and hamper chores, and add others as needed, for the opportunity to make money.  There are times I really need help with different things, like right now.  I want a system that works for me.

My boys will have the burden of supporting their families someday.  To prepare them, we need to teach them to exert themselves, even when they don't feel like it.  They need to have a yes attitude toward opportunities for work.

And my girls too, for that matter.  Caring for a home and family is hard work, starting right after the honeymoon.  The pressure on a wife is not as burdensome as that on a husband--nobody forecloses on your home if you fail to clean it properly--but her work ethic needs to be strong.  She can't eat the bread of idleness and still hope to bless her family.

After the fall in the Garden of Eden, God made work the main theme of our lives.  Children should enjoy their childhood's, true, but we can't shield them from what real life entails: work!

These thoughts swirling in my head, I decided to try something new.  I put a piece of plain white paper on the fridge with a column for each of the three older children.  When a need arose, I asked who wanted to do the chore, and I gave my offering price. If more than one child responded, I split the money--only crediting children who did a nice share of the work, without complaining.

Each time a chore was completed, I listed the date, chore and the money due, on that child's column.  No one has been paid yet because I don't carry money--just my bank card!  At the end of each month, I'll make sure I have the dough in hand, ready for pay day.

Here is what the chart looks like right now:

Paul, age 7
2/6, inside windows, $2.50
2/7, folding pajamas, whole family, $.35
2/9, checking mail in snow, $.10 (I don't pay for this chore if the weather is good.)
2/10, vacuum living room, $.15
2/18, clean yard, $1.00
2/19, help with Beth, $.10
2/22, clean whole playroom, $.20

Peter, age 9
2/14, fold towels, $.15
2/19, fold towels, $.15
2/20, vacuum playroom, $.10
2/22, vacuum hall, entry way, living room, $.20

Mary, age 4
2/15, put sleds away, $.10
2/18, help clean yard, $1.00
2/20, help clean up Legos sister dumped, $.05
2/22, help clean playroom, $.10

As you can see, Peter and Mary got into the game later than Paul.  It impressed them that brother was earning so much money, so they decided to exert themselves.

In fact, Peter decided to let Momma know he was open for business.  He made up a cardboard sign yesterday, with an open and closed flap taped to the bottom:

Get vacuming, folding, clening windos, garuding (gardening), clening rooms dun here.
Prise list: 
folding 10 cents
clening rooms 50 cents
gardening 25 cents
vacuming 25 cents
clening windos 10 cents 

Every time I pass his sign, I smile and want to squeeze him.  So cute!  (Except that we just reviewed done last week as a sight word, and I thought he mastered it.  For some reason he can spell them orally, better than on paper.)

I'm having fun with this system, and I'm impressed with their developing work ethics.  No more nagging or complaining!  As far as the money goes, well....I know that is controversial.  My conscience is at peace with this.

Another thing they must learn about is money management.  Learning to put aside 10% for church tithe and 5% for savings will serve them well in the years to come.


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