Chores and Allowance, Where to Begin?

Chores? Allowance? What, When, How Much!?


When it comes to allowance and chores, there are 3 ways parents seem to feel. They either love both, hate them, or want to give them a try but are so overwhelmed and unsure of how to go about it that they don’t ever bring it up.

Should my kids have a list of chores or should they just help when asked?

Are they old enough to do each item on their list without being micromanaged?

Will their “chores” create more work for me?

Should I give them a weekly allowance just for things they should be doing on their own?

How much do chores go for these days?

There are so many different ways to handle chores, normal routine, and allowances. It’s hard to sift through all the “suggestions” out there.

I do things a little differently.

Lately, my little beauty of a 6-year-old girl has been getting very upset and going to the brink of break down when we tell her we won’t be buying whatever it is she’s begging for that day.

This bothers me.

Just today she had a melt down at the park. As we walked to the ice cream truck I realized I didn’t have cash so I asked the woman if she was able to take card.


And bring on the wail and forced cry. Home we went.

I wasn’t planning on lecturing today…

I don’t believe I’ve raised her this far to feel entitled.

And I feel that I’ve failed in showing her the value of experiences instead of material things.

So here comes the sticker charts and chore lists!

That sounds like it’s a harsh turn of events. I didn’t just toss her things and tell her she had to buy them back. Talk about melt down.

What I have done, is talk to her over several weeks about money. Where it comes from, how we earn it, and what happens to it when we want to buy something.

She’s only 6.

I don’t expect her to become an expert budgeter or saver, but I do want her to learn the value of things and people. I don’t want her to just focus on the I-want-it-now-so-I’m-going-to-get-it. Which is the attitude, unfortunately, my husband and I (and grandparents) have contributed to.

Today’s melt down kicked me right in the heart. I wanted an ice cream, too. It would have been so nice to sit in the shade and eat ice cream with my sweet girl. Her wail came just as I was turning to say we could have a mother daughter date to Baskin Robbins later.

There goes my cheat treat.

She’s a good kid. She’s smart, behaves well, is kind, and is just so dang sweet and cute.

So why not buy her everything she wants when she asks?

Queue the entitlement.

I’m on a mission to fix that and so far, it’s working well. With the exception of today.

Little by little.

I personally do not pay or reward my kids for things that are their responsibility. For example, cleaning their room. That is their room and if they want their things to stay nice and unbroken, they are responsible for keeping it tidy. Making their beds, tidying the playroom, putting away their clean clothes and putting their dirty clothes in the hampers are also things I do not pay for.

I also do not pay or reward them for things that contribute to the house and family. Things like setting and clearing the table, and feeding the animals are all contributing tasks. We all take turns doing them.

What I DO pay and reward my kids for are things that are normally assumed to be my responsibilities. You know, the normal stay-at-home-parent things; unloading the dishwasher, folding mom and dad’s laundry, vacuuming, dusting, windows, and anything else they come up with to earn some money or rewards.

Now, when I say I let my 6-year-old unload my dishwasher, I mean I first unload the dishes I really care about. I take out the sharp knives if I put them in for whatever reason. My heavier casserole and Pyrex dishes come out. Then, my daughter unloads the rest. I’m no fool.

I’ve stumbled upon many “chore list by age” pins on Pinterest over the last year. I must say, either the authors’ children were trained by Mary Poppins, or the authors did not have children.

In no way, shape or form, is my 2-year-old capable of managing his own hygiene.

Nor is my 6-year-old ready to be handed a sharp slicing knife and be left to chop vegetables for dinner. I don’t like fingers in my carrots.

When it comes time for your kids to start contributing around the house and maybe earning some money, make a chore list based on your kid’s abilities. Not based on how much you want to follow around behind them fixing everything.

My 2-year-old, with guidance, is in charge of;

  • Stacking his books
  • Putting his dirty clothes in the hamper
  • Putting toys away in bins (one list I read said a 2-year-old should be putting toys away based on category and into their proper bins. What? I need to meet these 2-year-olds.)
  • Putting his cups in the sink
  • Picking up couch cushions (He threw them.)
  • Putting bath toys in the bucket before the water drains out of the tub
  • Feeding the dog (some food even gets in the bowl.)

I commend all you parents out there with Masterchef Junior kids and 2-year-old organizers. Please, send your training tips my way!

My 6-year-old is responsible for;

  • Making her bed
  • Getting dressed (her clothes don’t always match but she loves her outfits and has a confidence I couldn’t be more proud of.)
  • Setting the table (mostly…I don’t hand her knives…it’s a good thing we didn’t name her Grace.)
  • Clearing the table
  • Vacuuming the crumbs under the table
  • Unloading the dishwasher
  • Folding towels and socks
  • Putting away her own clothes
  • Putting toys away in their proper places
  • Feeding the cat

As I think of other things she’s able to do, I ask her to do them.

I also do not pay my kids right away. They earn stickers for each chore they do. 30 stickers is equal to $20.

Some chores are worth 2 stickers, others only count for half a sticker. It just depends on the effort involved.

I’m slowly teaching my daughter to understand how to save her money (something her parents can barely do, hence our frequent no spend challenges. Instead of taking the $20 right to the store, she could save for something bigger.

It’s all trial and error. Our chores and earning ways are always changing. We go with what works best for our kids instead of trying to force them to do something they aren’t able to.

I don’t want to set them up for failure. I want them to master something and move on to a new challenge.

There are so many great ideas for chore charts and payments on Pinterest. It’s fun to gather up all the ideas that make earning and contributing fun for our kids. But make sure you choose methods that work for your family, not that force you to compare your kids to others, or that make you push your kids to do things that they just can’t yet.

Download my sticker chart here!

What chores do you have your children do? What do they earn?

I’d love to hear more ideas!