Monday, March 11, 2013

Chore Charts & Allowance

We decided it was time to start a chore chart and allow the kids to earn allowance. Keeping the house clean and getting everything done sometimes seems like an impossible task. I have always enlisted the help of my kids because, well, for starters, they create the biggest messes around here. Shouldn't that mean that they automatically need to help?
(This is what my family room looks like on a regular basis, Welcome!)
Up until now, I have taken that exact approach. We all need to help and I'd love to do that for you if you can do this for me, or we can all have fun together if we work together first. It seemed like a good system but we wanted to change it up for a few reasons:

1) To help the kids learn to manage money and save.
We all work hard for the money we earn and for the things that we have. Our nice warm house, the fun-filled yard, the toys, the games, the clothes (including the coveted shoes which are Mr. D's favorite)...they didn't just show up here one day, although it is easy to forget that sometimes. 
2) To let the kids earn money to buy the things they are constantly asking for. 
Every trip to the store, every outing, everywhere! This is hard for me because I want to give them everything they want. But, what am I teaching them in doing that? My new motto is "Just because you can, doesn't mean you should" (I thank my neighbor for that one).

3) To be more responsible for their own actions and things. 
Heaven knows how many things I have spent money on to find it broken on the floor, not put away, thrown outside, etc. My hope is that when they have worked hard and saved for something great, they will appreciate it and take care of it more.
4) To help them be more kind, respectful and appreciative.
My favorite part of the chore chart for sure is the very last row where I included "I Can Be Kind & Respectful." Mainly because I feel like a broken record around here sometimes. By the fourth or fifth time dealing with the same situation, listening to them fight and talking back, all I want to do is scream and send them all to their rooms. I find the greatest solace (maybe too much) in not saying anything at all, walking over and getting the marker and giving them a frowny face on their chart. Nothing needs to be said...they already know that means business.
The chore chart is great on its own. But what about payday? For us, Payday is every Saturday. We get all of the chores done for the day and then I lay out all of the money they could have earned. That's right! All of the money they could have earned. I count up their chores while they patiently wait. And then I pay them from the pile they could be getting. What they didn't earn, I put back in my wallet right then.

I tend to hear a lot of "NOT Fair!" "I want that!" and "Why do you get to keep that?" which leads to the same discussion every week. If you were to do your chores every day and mark them all off, I would simply hand it over and wouldn't keep any of it. You could have earned THAT much money (a huge pile in their eyes, especially when the whole pile is in $1 bills).

That was put to the test one week when Mr. L had saved and had earned just enough for the Lego set he was dying to have but then owed me money for fighting and being disrespectful. There were tears and I felt terrible but he also learned that a small amount can make a big difference.
When we originally started the chore charts, the kids would beg me to take them to the store (that money was burning a hole in their pockets!). We would spend way too much time wandering the aisles trying to find something they really wanted with the $4 they had. It was torturous for everyone. Not to mention that if I were to give them the $8 or $10 they needed to get even one of the things they wanted, the entire premise behind the chore chart would be out the window.
That is when "the store" came into the picture. I was being tortured patiently waiting for them to choose something when I thought, it would be so much easier for them to work for what they want if they know exactly how much it would cost and how hard they would have to work for it. I wrapped up the shopping trip and the next day, I went and picked out some Legos, Diary of a Whimpy kid, some doll accessories, Jake and The Neverland Pirates toys, some games and a few things from the dollar section as well as some gum and stickers (just to have a few smaller things as well).
We put price tags on everything and I opened a store in our china cabinet (perfect shelf because it was easy to see & still put away). The kids were so excited. Some of the things they are always begging for just waiting for them to earn them and get them out of there!
(While our store gets the job done, my friend Kim, will be blogging Wednesday about her store here and you don't want to miss it! It is over-the-top and fantabulous! I mean, tiny buntings!?!?!? And a "bank" for payday! I should hire her to give ours an upgrade.)

Back to those chore charts. They have worked like a charm. The kids are always talking about what they are working to earn and they do their chores more often, without a fight, knowing that toy or book or art supply is waiting for them in the cupboard.
It has also stopped the constant begging for things at the store. Instead it has turned into, "Do you think you can buy this for the store?" and has also started discussions like, "I can, but also know that I can get it for $5 less at the other store, do you still want me to get it here or should I wait and pick it up next time I go there?" Of course they want the best price possible because it makes it easier to earn. Fabulous lessons being learned all over the place.
Do you want a chore chart of your own? I have free printable chore charts (three color combinations to choose from; green & blue here, purple & pink here, turquoise & red here) for you to use at home. Simply print it off (from the links above), laminate it and get your wet erase marker ready. And if you'd like a bit more info on the different sections, double click on the photo below for a larger version with explanations for each section, how we use it and some additional ideas.