Can't get your kids to do chores? Try this idea....

This is the system of allowance / chores that I used soon after the kids came to live with me. It has changed significantly in later years due to finances so I will present both systems so that you might gain  from each what might be helpful to your family. In the first system, each child has a maximum amount of allowance that they are able to earn based on their age.

Photo by Val Lawless

Photo by Val Lawless

      5 years old       $2.00 a week

      6 years old       $3.00 a week

      7 years old       $4.00 a week

      8 years old       $5.00 a week

      9 years old       $6.00 a week

      10 years old      $7.00 a week

      11 years old      $8.00 a week

      12 and up         $10.00 a week

 They earn this allowance by doing their chores each day. I try not to remind the children to do their chores and instead rely on them to be responsible. (This is easier said than done. However, it is very effective if you can stay with it.) Each day they choose not to do their chores, they lose one quarter of their total allowances for that week. I have tried different amounts to take away but soon found that one quarter worked the best. It is enough that they don’t want to skip a day but small enough that if they do miss a day or two they will still receive some allowance.

 After a child completes his/her chore, he or she is required to show you so that his/her chore can be checked and credit given. If it is a chore such as dishes, it may need to be done throughout the day for credit.

 Recently I have started paying the children once a month, instead of once a week. They still earn the same amount but being paid monthly teaches them to budget their money. However, I would not recommend this until the children have become consistently successful at completing all of their chores each week and earning all of their allowance. Many kids need to see a more immediate reward for their efforts than once a month.

 There is a list of chores that the children may choose from. If at any time they become tired of their chore and can convince another child to trade with them, they are able to do so. However, both of the children must be at an age that is appropriate to be able to complete the chores successfully.

 I did temporarily try trading chores on a weekly basis, but this proved to be a very confusing and frustrating process to keep track of and enforce. Simply said, it just wasn’t worth it. Initially, we traded weekly because I wanted all of the children to become familiar with all of the chores so that they could one day easily maintain a home on their own. Once we quit rotating, I found that after a few months a child would become bored with their chore and trade anyway. This arrangement allows them the freedom to choose their own chores and eventually learn all of the chores on their own time frame.


List of Our Family Chores

 1.     Dishes: Do all of the dishes for the family, clear the table, sweep and mop the kitchen floor, wipe off the counters and take out the trash in the kitchen daily. It is by far the most time consuming of the chores. However, some of the children seem to prefer it.

 2.     Living Room: Straighten up the living room several times a day as it becomes messy. This is a great chore for a younger yet responsible child.

 3.     Bathroom: Clean the kids’ bathroom daily, including the shower, tub, vanity, mirror, and toilet. Sweep, mop, and take out all trash in this bathroom. (Be sure to choose a child you trust with cleaning products. An alternative is to mix a little dish-washing soap with water and use it as cleaner.)

 4.     Pets: Feed, water, walk and clean up after any family pets.


There is not a person assigned to do the cooking (other than me) but I do allow anyone to cook a meal or dessert if they request to do so. Often the girls like to plan menus or desserts and cook them themselves. My oldest daughters are especially good about preparing meals just to help out. In addition, the younger kids often ask to help cook, and I allow them to do so often as possible.

 Chores and allowance are designed to teach the kids how to handle the daily ins and outs of maintaining a home. In addition, it teaches them to be responsible, to remember what must be done around a house, and to manage their money.

 I do not require that any of the kids work outside of the home. However, I do allow them to, if they would like and they are able to maintain good grades in school, as education should always come first. I will drive them to and from work but I do not keep up with their work schedule or remind them. If they should lose their job for any reason or be reprimanded at work, I do not rescue them. I would prefer that they forget to show up for work at fifteen and lose their job than do the same thing at twenty-five. The main goal for chores, allowances and after school jobs is to instill in the children values they will need to become productive members of society.

 As I stated previously, the system outlined above was used for quite some time and rather successfully.  Then, finances dictated that I absolutely could no longer afford to give allowances.  The kids were all adopted by this time and all understood the limited budget that had become a reality.  At this time, we adopted a slightly different version of the chore system while maintaining the values of choice and personal responsibility.

2nd option for Chore System

The second chore system consists of a rather extensive list of chores from which the children may choose.  They are required to obtain five chore “credits” from Sunday – Friday.  Some chores are worth “one or two credits” while others are only given “one-half credit..” All chores must be completed by Friday at 6 p.m. as we take Saturday off to observe the Sabbath. If all five chores are not completed, ten pages are assigned for each chore left incomplete.  The number of pages should vary greatly with the age of your children and/or speed at which they complete pages.  In order for a chore to be given credit, I must be asked to “check” the chore and sign-off that it was completed correctly.  The chores may be done several times throughout the week but only if they are necessary.  For example, trash may only be taken out when the trash can is full.  The following is a list of chores from which the kids may choose.

 1.     Kitchen – wash dishes, counters and microwave, sweep and mop. (one credit)

2.     Dusting downstairs – (one and one-half credits)

3.    Dusting upstairs – (one and one-half credits)

4.    Vacuuming downstairs – (one credit)

5.     Vacuuming upstairs – (one credit)

6.    Taking out trash – (one-half credit)

7.     Cleaning large restroom – (one credit)

8.     Cleaning small restroom – (one-half credit)

9.     Taking care of pet – feed, water, walk and clean up after (one credit)

10.  Cleaning blinds downstairs – (two credits)

11.  Cleaning blinds upstairs – (two credits)


Additional chores are added as needed such as organizing a cabinet or drawer, watering the yard or cleaning out the refrigerator. 

Photo by homero chapa

Photo by homero chapa

It should be noted that I do think it is a good idea for children to receive allowances and in some states it is required when they are in foster care.  However, for our present circumstances, it was neither required nor economically feasible.  All of the kids were well-aware of our limitations and understood that helping out around the house is not only expected but necessary to maintaining a well-kept home.  Families work together to keep a home in good order so that it is a pleasant place to live for everyone.  Regardless of the system you choose, chores are designed to teach both personal responsibility and a team approach to maintaining a home.

Posted on July 21, 2014 .