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?