I like to start our kiddos early in helping out around the house. Around age two, our kids empty the silverware from the dishwasher, help set the table, pick up their toys, and dust kid-level surfaces around the house. Now at five, Tate is in charge of making her own bed (sometimes with help), folding clothes, putting away her laundry, setting the table, and reshelving her books in the right spot.
Last week she successfully made lunch for the entire family, so maybe I’ve got a new task to add to her repertoire. Hmm.
I like getting kids started early for a few reasons.
1. You’re tapping into the stage of life when it’s fun to help.
Two-year-olds mimic their parents, want to be with their parents nonstop, and are obsessed with doing things by themselves. It’s the perfect time to let them start “helping” around the house. I give Reed a spray bottle of water and a rag, and let him go to town on the cabinet surfaces or bathtub when I’m cleaning the bathroom.
Yes, it’s often not really helping, and many times I have to undo what he just did. But he’s going to be right next to me anyway, probably doing something like dropping my phone in the toilet. Might as well give him something pseudo-productive to do, and it doubles as teaching life skills early on.
2. It’s never too early to learn that the world doesn’t revolve around you.
Having kids do chores is not robbing them of a childhood. It’s blessing them with the gift of reality — that life involves work, messes, and not getting your way all the time. Tate, who is quite used to helping around the house, still huffs and slumps her shoulders when it’s time to empty the dishwasher, so it’s not like she skips around with a grin on her face at chore time. But it doesn’t shock her to no end that she doesn’t get to play tea party all day long.
3. It really does help.
I feel like Tate’s involvement is now actually helping, probably for the first time. She folds cloth napkins and towels fairly well, she knows the protocol behind basic table setting (including festive centerpieces that often involve leaves from the backyard), and she’s a star at watching the baby when I’m finishing dinner. I’m thinking things can only go up.
We use a basic chore chart to help our kids check off their accomplishments. This doesn’t tally up to anything we keep track of, but little ones find it fun to have their own visual to-do list they can adorn with stickers or check marks.
To pay or not to pay
This is the dilemma. And this is what I’m wondering what you all do in your family. Do you pay an allowance or some sort of commission? Is it at all related to the tasks performed? Or do you give a set amount “just because,” and chores are simply an expected part of being in the family?
Tate doesn’t quite grasp the value of different coins just yet, but she certainly likes earning money. For now, she just does her chores, and every now and then, she earns money for extra things, like an abundance of laundry folding (one penny per folded item can quickly add up to several quarters). This is pretty similar to Mandi’s hybrid solution as well.
There’s no one right way to do this, I know. So that’s why I’d like to hear from you, especially those of you with older kids — how do you handle some sort of allowance distribution to your kids?