Don’t you enjoy having some money of your own? Children do not have as many opportunities to earn money as teens or adults. If your family budget can afford to pay them for their work, then I suggest you pay them for family care chores, but not personal care chores. Personal care chores include washing and bathing, teeth and hair brushing, getting dressed and undressed, bed making and cleaning own room. Family care chores include laundry, meals, home, yard, animal, and auto maintenance.Yes, we would like for our children to be willing to contribute to the needs of their family without the incentive of money, but then so would your employer.
Remember our goal is to prepare them for the adult world where work is compensated. As you pay them for their work, they can begin learning money management. How much should they be paid? How much can you afford is the wrong question. A better question is how much is the job worth. Don’t pay more than you can afford but don’t pay all you can afford either. Because they are children there are few places they could earn more than the minimum wage. For example to determine the worth of a clean bathroom I used the length of time it would take me to clean the bathroom times the minimum wage. 20 minutes times $9.00 per hour equals a $3.00 task. I think this a generous formula. Never use how much time it takes a child because they are more distracted and less focused.
When my sister and I were children it sometimes took us 2 hours to complete the 20 minute job of clean up after dinner and doing the dishes. Was the entire kitchen a disaster? No. Were our parents giving us more to do than we were capable of doing? No. We were fooling around. We were leg wrestling in the living room or giving each other airplane rides. We were watching TV or doing whatever we thought to do in the midst of a simple chore. We distracted each other.
Because of our chores for money method, our children rarely came to us asking for money. Rather, there was an understanding that if they needed money, they needed to do more work. I provided them with a list of additional chores that could be completed for extra compensation. This included things like vacuuming out the car and disinfecting all the doorknobs and light switches in the house.
If the purposes of chores are earning money, developing skills, and contributing to family needs, then is there a time when that goal is reached? All three tenants are on-going and never ending; however family dynamics do change and children grow up. Many older teens find employment outside the home which meets their financial needs. As our children entered employment we lessened and eventually removed regular household chores from their daily schedules. More and more of their time and energies at home were used on tasks that were only done weekly or as needed such as lawn mowing, snow shoveling or vehicle maintenance. At the same time they were gaining more personal care chores such as purchasing and caring for their own clothing. Everyone appreciates a pat on the back for a job well done, but a little cash is mighty nice too.