May 14, 2008

Finding a Chore Plan that Works

I don't have many things posted on the side of my fridge, but CJ's Chore Chart is there. Sadly, glancing at the chore chart only serves to remind me that I'm not so great at making CJ follow through on those chores. It worked for a while. Then as homework, activities...and c'mon, let's be honest, attitude...have increased, my enforcement of the chore list has decreased.

It's been a subject I've avoided until recently, when I realized that if I'm going to have a peaceful and simple home, CJ's got to pull her weight. Likewise, I can't shirk this parenting responsibility any longer. I put off confronting the issue (and the cat fight that would surely ensue) as long as I possibly could, but I finally worked up enough courage to devise a new plan.

Rather than following a chore chart that really isn't worth the paper it's printed on, I've given CJ a list of her responsibilities. As a member of the family team, she contributes by taking care of her things. That means she empties her backpack and lunch box, picks up her things from the living room, and cleans her room and playroom (she has lists posted behind both doors to define a "clean room"). Those are the non-negotiable, unpaid duties. (To be honest, I don't require that she make her bed every day because mornings are choreographed to the minute, and I don't make mine every day since R and I often have to sleep at different times because of his shift rotation.)

She has the chance to earn money for doing extras (mainly on Saturdays) - laundry, dusting, mowing the lawn, etc. She cannot earn any money unless she's taken care of her primary responsibilities. The money she earns is for "treats" - candy at the ballgame, trips to the dollar store, and trinkets she wants to purchase. Mom and Dad are not bankrolling her spending any more.

I've read varying opinions on making a child's allowance contingent upon chores. We're taking this approach for three reasons:

First, we don't get paid unless we work. CJ needs to learn to work.

Second, she's not getting paid for doing what's expected as a member of the family. She's earning money for surpassing those expectations.

Third, we're tired of paying for everything CJ gets. She doesn't get everything she wants, but like most children, she's not above pitching a fit when she doesn't. Since she knows up front that we won't be purchasing "extra" items anymore (except for rare occasions), she can set goals and determine what she wants most. I'm willing to bet she'll soon realize that many items she thinks are necessities are, in fact, luxuries. If I'd only learned that sooner myself!

So far, the new chore plan is working. I don't have to nag her to get things done (money = incentive). She's taking care of her things, and has been a tremendous help to me. Tackling extra responsibilities makes her feel more mature. I'm hoping she'll learn the value of money and how to make wise spending choices.

I don't know that it's a perfect plan, but it sure beats the guilt of staring at a useless chore chart every day!

*updated to add: in response to Mary's question, CJ is 9 1/2. Basically, she does what I ask (and sometimes gets motivated to do more). I like not assigning chores, because now we don't argue that she didn't do something on her list. This was huge for us...because she tends to avoid things she "has" to do. She would do laundry instead of emptying trash cans. Well, whatever she does is something I don't have to do & I'm okay with that. (How can I gripe about emptying trash cans, but expect her to do it?). So far she hasn't complained when I asked her to do something extra. Again, money is a great motivator!


Leah in Iowa said...

Good for you! Let me know how it works in the weeks to come.

Gee - does this mean I should pay Brittany a little something extra for helping me spring clean??

Alyce said...

Keep me posted on how it works! We've tried different methods as well. I too got frustrated with the empty chore chart posted on the fridge. I hate asking Cam to do chores during the week with all the homework she has. But...summer's coming!!

Mary said...

I've tried lots of different things too. I purchased the Financial Peace Jr. kit but we've never really put it into practice. It's hard for me to keep up with my own chores after working all day and dealing with Scouts and PTA. I just can't keep up with reminding him too. I'm curious, how old is your daughter? I have a hard time deciding what is a suitable list of chores for my son. I don't want him to get off too easy but I don't want to use him as slave labor either.

Mrs. Jules said...

Boy, have I been avoiding the same thing...for months. Our calendar of chores has been terribly neglected. You have given me much inspiration today. Thank you!!

Lisa writes... said...

This is one area I have failed in consistency...and one that I am determined to enforce more rigorously this summer! (my boys will be so pleased...)

Mary said...

Thanks for the update. School will be out at the end of the month. That will be the perfect time to update his list and put some new rules regarding 'payment' in place.

Joanne (The Simple Wife) said...

Just catching up with you, Melissa, now that school is out--hooray!

I love reading about the everyday kinds of things in your life and this is always a struggle so it's fun to read how other people handle this. I especially like the list on the back of the door that defines what a "clean" room looks like.

Much love,