When our older two kids were younger, I struggled with the idea of simply giving children an allowance (for doing nothing) or paying them to do certain chores (I don’t struggle with that anymore). I believe our children should contribute to the care of their home because they are a part of our family, but they are also entitled to a small portion of our income because they are a part of our family. I wasn’t sure how to manage the children’s chores and allowance until I found an interesting blog through Pinterest.
I love searching Pinterest for anything having to do with crafts, school, health, and food. I sometimes use Pinterest instead of Google because I know I will be more likely to find the desired information. One such search directed me to 71 Toes and their weekly checklists for children. The concept is fairly simple. Each child has a checklist of tasks to complete each weekday. If they complete all of their tasks for the week, they will receive their age in dollars on Saturday or Sunday. If they fail to complete one or two tasks, they will receive half of their age in dollars. They will receive no money for not completing three or more. They are allowed to memorize a scripture verse or passage (parent’s choice) to make up for one task.
- Morning work: make bed, pick up bedroom floor, brush teeth, eat breakfast, get ready to go (if necessary)
- Reading: read for a minimum of 15 minutes each day
- Practice: practice something for at least 15 minutes each day (examples below)
- Zone: clean one area of the house (see below)
Practice can be as simple as writing a letter to a friend or loved one, playing a game (Scrabble, Quirkle, Monopoly, Dominoes, Yahtzee, Uno, etc.), playing an educational game on a computer or iPad, practicing flash cards, or practicing spelling words. Big Brother plays baseball and practices hitting with a pitching machine. Big Sister used to practice her cartwheels at home for gymnastics. The little girls practiced painting (fine motor skills) with Grandmother yesterday. My kids usually check with me first to make sure something will count for their practice before they start. As long as I can see some developmental or educational value in their activity, I usually approve–unless they want to do something extremely messy or that will require me to be involved for an extended period of time.
We have only recently developed the zone into something that works well for our family. At first, I only had the two older children completing checklists, so we only had two zones, which were usually 1) pick up the living room and 2) pick up the game room. Those were the days when the twins were babies/toddlers and the floors were their playground. When the twins were a little over three, we tried the checklists, but they were a little young to understand the concept. They would complete a zone together, usually with my help. I came up with five different chores that need to be completed more than once a week and put them on a wheel that I rotate on weekdays to give each child a new zone. Today, the twins decided they each want a separate zone to complete on their own, so I have to create a new wheel.
I started out with each child (the older two at the time) having a checklist on a half-sheet of paper like the mom at 71 Toes, but I didn’t want to tape or tack the sheets to our brand new (at the time) walls. I created a family command center around this time and used a magnetic clip to display their sheets on one sheet of paper. Once the twins wanted a checklist, I found a way to fit all four on one sheet. They are small, but it’s easy to see who has empty boxes at a glance.
The purpose of the checklists is to teach children how to manage their money. Big Brother can earn up to $10 a week. He must save 10% and give 10% to our church, so he has a check register where we record his savings each week, and we keep that cash for him. Big Sister can earn up to $8 each week. She loves Starbursts and bubble gum, but she must buy those things with her own money, so she has to budget, save, and figure out tax on her purchase. The little girls quickly learn that $3 doesn’t buy much, so they are learning the value of a dollar. The family from 71 Toes requires their children to pay for half of all their clothing (except underwear, socks, and Sunday dress clothes) once they reach the age of twelve. We haven’t reached that point yet, so I’ll update when we figure out if that will work for our family.
I’m sure I have forgotten something to explain about this system, but you can ask me questions in a comment or go to 71 Toes to read her explanation and see what they do differently. This is a wonderful system that works well as long as you (the parent) remember to have cash (plenty of ones) every weekend. Otherwise, your kids feel like they aren’t being rewarded for their checklists and quit completing their tasks. (I know this from personal experience.)