I can’t remember when I came up with the idea, but it was at least a year ago. You see, as a mom, I’m constantly trying to figure out ways to encourage my children to help around the house. Over the years, I’ve tried stickers on charts and similar reward systems for completing chores, but that becomes daunting to keep up with. At ages 7, 8, and 10, my boys are capable of helping around the house, and I have read about the importance of requiring chores at home because it helps children learn responsibility and increase their self confidence.
One of the chores they’ve had for the past two years is putting away their clean clothes that I’ve folded and set in their appropriate section across our sofa while they are at school. They are required to do that after snacks and homework a couple times a week, depending on the days I decide to do laundry. They are also expected to bring in the trash can and recycling can twice a week. Picking up after themselves and helping me out when I ask is also expected, but I decided to create a system to help them earn extra money.
Basically, you need a plastic box, poker chips, and sandwich or snack bags. Then decide on chores of varying levels of time and difficulty. You can see mine from the picture below. Get your kids involved in the list and help them determine how much money each chore is worth. Then, assign the poker chips a monetary value. For instance, our green chips are worth $5 while our black ones are worth $.50. Type up your chore chart, print it up, and tape it to your box. Nothing fancy. I did put a scripture at the top that I thought was appropriate: “Work willingly at whatever you do.” Colossians 3:23. Put a child’s name on each of the sandwich bags, and place the bags and chips into your box. You are now ready to go.
When the children decide to complete a chore, make sure they get your approval because if it is something that doesn’t need to be done that day –no, you just watered the plants yesterday; they are practically drowning – you need to tell them to pick something else. Once they’ve completed the chore to your standards, they get to put the appropriate colored poker chip into their sandwich bag.
When they need the money, they can swap out the poker chips for cash, empty out their bag, and start again.
Obviously, some of these chores may never get done, so you have to be willing to do them yourself or simply require them to do the particular chore. For instance, my boys LOATH picking up the toy room. I require they do it once a week so I can vacuum. Maybe I should switch that over to a non-paying chore… As the boys get older, I will adjust the chore list and most likely have to increase the pay. Young kids are pretty cheap labor, but in reality, most of these chores take fewer than five minutes to complete, so the hourly rate is pretty good to a kid.
Let me emphasize that these have to be voluntary chores beyond their required chores. Encourage your child to complete one of these chores, and if he/she is saving up for something big, your child will eagerly do them. In the summer, I like to take the kids to fun places like the children’s museum, skating, berry picking, etc. If they want a souvenir or something extra like ice cream, they have to pay with their own money, which they’ve typically earned doing those chores from the chore box.