Why I Will Not Pay My Kids to Do Chores


Why I Will Not Pay My Kids to Do Chores

Elliott is still only four-years-old and besides asking him to tidy up his toys and his strange love of vacuuming, he doesn’t actually have any ‘chores’ just yet, but he definitely will.

When it comes to kids doing chores, I often see mention of kids getting pocket money in return for doing their chores. I must admit to giving Elliott a one dollar coin on a few occasions for helping me with the vacuuming, but now, I’m not so sure if I’m going to go down the pocket money path in the future.

The way I’m beginning to see it is that everyone in the family should pitch in somehow in order for the house to be kept clean and tidy. Everyone lives there equally, so why not?

When I think of the word ‘chores’ it makes me think of it as an inconvenience when kids really should be taught not to see them that way. That’s where I feel that paying for kids to do their ‘chores’  is paying them for the inconvenience instead of doing them because they want to help to run the household and to learn valuable life skills.  I remember doing my Oma’s ironing whenever I stayed over her house when I was about 10 years old. She didn’t pay me to do it, I remember doing it because I enjoyed helping my grandmother and because it made me feel good.

My concern over paying kids to do their chores revolves around when they are adults, will they then expect to be paid for everything they do instead of seeing it as a way to help and contribute? And what happens when our kids move out, share a house, get married…they’re not going to get paid to wash their clothes, vacuum their room or make dinner. So then, what will be their incentive to do it?

I wonder whether if I introduced ‘pocket money for chores’ it would turn into something like, “Elliott, could you please unpack the dishwasher?” Only to receive the response, “So, how much pocket money do I get for doing that?” This is a perfect example of a child completely missing the point of helping around the house as part of being a family, learning life skills…these, a pathway to being a reliable flatmate, friend and spouse.

I am grateful that my mother-in-law brought up my husband in a household where helping was important. I now have a husband that helps me with pretty much all household tasks, without problems or having to ask.  As a woman, this is extremely important to me because I often hear about other husbands/partners who are the complete opposite.  There still seems to be so much expectation and pressure put on women to run the household because, unfortunately, it’s likely that’s how the men were brought up, their mother did most of the housework. It is my duty to ensure that my son grows up knowing the importance of everyone helping around the house and that everyone is equal in what they do to help run the household.

But then without paying for chores to be done, there will likely be times when Elliott asks, “Mum, can I buy some LEGO?” To this, my current response goes something like, “You’ll have to ask the Easter Bunny/Santa/ask for your birthday.” This is where I think an allowance comes in handy, but an allowance that is NOT attached to helping around the house.

The benefit of having a separate allowance not only detaches the money aspect from chores, but it’s also a great way to teach Elliott money management. I’m thinking a monthly allowance might be more effective than weekly because he will have to learn how to make it last. It will be up to him as to how he wants to spend it, he will learn how much things cost and, when he’s older, figure out ways to get more money. He will also learn and understand the value of things and that it may take a few months of saving his allowance to get something that is worth more.

In the end, having my child helping out with chores isn’t about making it easier for me or my husband, it’s about ensuring he’s set up for life and that he values what it means to be a family and to WANT to help each other. There really shouldn’t be any monetary incentive attached to that.

What’s the arrangement in your house? How do you feel about kids chores and allowances?

Eva Lewis (The Multitasking Woman)

Eva Lewis (The Multitasking Woman)

Eva is the Editor and Owner of The Multitasking Woman. She always has her fingers in many different pies but wouldn't have it any other way. Eva is a freelance writer, a social media manager, a Mum to her six-year-old son, one-year-old daughter, six chickens and Benny the dog and wife to Mr G. They all live happily in their little worker's cottage in Ipswich, Queensland, Australia.
Eva Lewis (The Multitasking Woman)

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  1. April 25, 2016 / 2:34 pm

    My son is 8 years old. He will help out around the house when I ask (fee-free lol) but if it’s a larger task I will pay him. He has built up pocket money and uses it to buy games etc so it also teaches him about the value of money etc like you say. 🙂

  2. Eleise
    April 25, 2016 / 7:39 pm

    I often ponder this topic. We have expected chores and extra pocket money chores. Coming from a financial background I put more emphasis on money lessons than cleaning. It’s a hard balance to find.

  3. April 26, 2016 / 5:41 pm

    To be honest I’m not really sure how I feel about being paid for chores or having an allowance. I must’ve had a deprived childhood because I never got paid for chores or an allowance and I got my first job at 12 {delivering newspapers}. It seems from that point on I had to pay for anything I wanted myself {except food and board obviously}. I would hope I can raise her to want to help out and not just for money. I had no choice but to help out because my dad died and then my mother had a breakdown so I “grew up” quite young. My partner grew up in a house where his mother did everything, but thankfully he doesn’t expect me to be like that and I don’t want bub to grow up thinking women should do everything around the house either.

  4. April 26, 2016 / 5:49 pm

    We have both. There are things that the kids must do around the house to help out – not negotiable, such as clean their room, make their bed, and anything else they are asked to do to help. But, we also have a couple of chores that they do get paid for. At the start of the year we discussed how it would work. They have the option of doing the paid chore – if they do it they get paid, if not, they don’t. And this year we also gave them the choice to collect the money each week, or save it for the year and be able to see how much they have then. They chose to save it. It’s working really well, and I’m looking forward to showing them how much they have saved at the end of the year and seeing whether they choose to keep saving, or buy something substantial and useful rather than a crappy toy.

  5. April 26, 2016 / 6:45 pm

    Just wrote about this last week. My girls are not pulling their weight in the chores department and my nagging has reached fever pitch! I have friends who swear by the pocket money. I feel similar about the whole thing to you so I haven’t gone there yet. Time will tell I guess.

  6. April 26, 2016 / 8:29 pm

    I think I was inconsistent! The kids were always expected to help at age-appropriate level. Rooms tidied, beds made (ha! Ok, teen years were the exception for the son) and so on. The kids did jobs around the house and I think we gave them some money towards things. So, dollar for dollar and all that. It is a long time ago now but one of the ways our DD helped when she still lived at home but was at Uni was she replaced the cleaning and ironing lady and she shared the job in our house and got some pay for that. I think you will make decisions as you go along. Life’s like that. Your husband sounds like a very supportive partner and this will be even more awesome when the baby arrives! Denyse #teamIBOT

  7. April 26, 2016 / 8:33 pm

    Ohhh, I wrote a blog post on chores explaining my theory and the research around it. I sit in both camps. I think most things should be done without payment – because we all have to live in this house and on this farm, so we all have to pitch in… But I think that if they take up additional tasks, going above and beyond (maybe there’d be a list??) they can earn additional money… I always think there has to be an avenue if they want to earn more? This was similar to how I was raised. I appreciated being given options. I understood some things needed to be done for our household to work… But liked that I could take on extra tasks if I wanted to buy something special (such as when I bought my flute in year 4).

  8. April 26, 2016 / 10:25 pm

    I really like your logic, Eva. We don’t pay the kids for chores, although we’ve briefly discussed it. At the moment, Miss Five is happy to help out when she can and doesn’t expect anything in return. She loves to make her bed and fold up her laundry etc. I’m looking forward to training up her little sister 🙂

  9. April 26, 2016 / 10:35 pm

    I pay all the way. My kids get pocket money and for that they all help clean the house every week. If I want extra, I’m happy to pay because I end up paying for them at the movies or shops etc anyway, so why not get cheap labour instead. heheheh

  10. April 27, 2016 / 11:16 am

    Not sure how I’m going to go with this. I like the idea of an allowance to teach them responsibility around money. My husband has suggested that we give him an allowance that’s not linked to chores but also have bonus tasks that are attached to a dollar value – like you get $5 a week allowance but you can earn an extra $20 for something special by cleaning the car. I think that’s a good happy medium.

  11. May 1, 2016 / 8:29 pm

    We have family responsibility tasks that everyone is expected to do without any kind of payment. Then we have set jobs that are above and beyond what needs to be done on a daily basis, that can earn some money. We don’t actually hand out pocket money at all, and my kids are older. If they want something they need to set about working to earn money for it. I actually have a bit of an issue with pocket money for lots of reasons, that are too long to go into right now.