When my kids were young they all had little jobs to do. It was something I was brought up doing, and it seemed natural to teach them how to put their dishes away, put clothes in the hamper, and hang up their coats.
As they got older, their jobs got bigger. My oldest was in charge of taking out the trash every day and bringing the garbage cans to the street every Monday. My daughter was in charge of folding all the laundry. My youngest helped me put away the dishes from the dishwasher until he was able to do it himself.
I’ve never paid my kids an allowance to do chores. Now they are all teenagers, and they know they aren’t getting paid to do jobs around the house and this is why:
I want them to know how to do stuff.
I want my kids growing up to be self-sufficient. I’ve taught them how to do laundry, vacuum, mop, shampoo rugs, and everything else that comes with taking care of a home. I don’t hand over cash in exchange for picking up their rooms or doing a few jobs because all of this is part of life.
Their chores also take mere minutes out of their day, and I don’t think they need to be paid for that.
I want them to realize we are part of a team.
We all live here and share these four walls. Yes, I decided to have three kids but that doesn’t mean the mother has to do all the housework. If you let your kids think you’re the only one who does crap around the house, they will go with it and you will be resentful. We’re all a team and when we all pitch in, life is easier for everyone.
I pay them for bigger jobs that aren’t their normal chores.
If my son (who drives) loads up his truck and takes a bunch of stuff to the dump for me, I pay him. If my daughter helps me cut back all the shrubs or helps me rake, I will pay her or ask her if there’s something special she’d like me to buy her. And my youngest son spent hours a few weeks ago helping me put together a new bedroom set and dining room hutch. He decided on a Nike sweatsuit he liked for helping me — everyone was happy.
I reward them in other ways.
They each have nice, new cell phones that are completely paid for. When they’ve talked about not receiving an allowance, I tell them how much each cell phone costs and how their chores are hardly an even exchange.
I always thank my kids. I tell them how much I appreciate them and their help. I also like to treat them sometimes when we’re at the mall or their favorite drug store, even if they haven’t done any recent, bigger jobs.
My daughter loves perfume and beauty products. My sons love candy and sweatshirts. If there’s an expensive pair of shoes they want or something else outside the basic clothing necessity, I’ll help with the cost even though they all have jobs and can buy them themselves.
There is a silent understanding that if they do their chores well, they will be rewarded even though it’s not by getting a weekly allowance. They help me and I’ll help them.
I don’t want them growing up thinking they are entitled.
When they leave home, enter the real world, and have jobs of their own I want them to know they aren’t above anything. Doing things like picking up after yourself or knowing how to clean up a mess are basic skills. If I never make them do these things, they’ll think they don’t have to.
If they live with a partner one day, I want them to be used to doing their share of the household chores. No one wants to live with someone who never cleans up after themselves or refuses to vacuum and do dishes.
Of course, my kids sometimes tell me it’s unfair they don’t get paid to do chores around the house. The way I see it, though, us adults don’t get paid to clean our homes. So really, in the end, I’m doing what all parents do every day: prepare them for the future.