How we made our family chores more fun, and easier to keep track of than a chore chart, especially for the little ones.
In our family, the beginning of the school year is marked by a continuous flow of money. Unfortunately, the money is flowing out, not in, and I’m not sure I could tell you where it’s all going. My children, their school, and its PTA assure me that it’s going to good causes.
In the interest of staunching the flow, I think it’s time we start paying allowances. I know that might seem like more money going out, but I’m hoping it will help my kids decide what is truly important to spend their money on, now that it’s going to be their money, and not the endless supply of mom’s money.
So I created a cute chore and allowance system, which, if nothing else, looks like I know what I’m doing when it comes to both decorating and parenting.
Family Chores Uncharted
First we decided on a basic allowance amount per week. Then we decided how much each extra job would be worth. (Sort of like a base salary plus commission structure.)
At the end of the week we add up the basic allowance, plus any additional chores the girls have done, and that’s what they get paid for allowance.
Here’s how the jar system works.
Basically, each girl gets a mason jar with her name painted on it. In that jar are several popsicle sticks with all their normal weekly “jobs”, such as clearing their plates after dinner, keeping their rooms clean, etc.
Plus, we have a third jar with extra jobs in it. Each of those jobs has a value assigned, like $.25 or $1. As the girls perform extra jobs, they take the job’s stick out of the extra jar and put it in their own jar.
At the end of the week, it’s super easy to see what’s been done, by looking at the sticks in each girl’s jar.
Our Family Chores
Here are the chores we do in our family, but I’m sure there are loads of other options out there as well.
For each chore, I’ve drawn a little icon on the popsicle stick to remind them of the job, so they don’t have to be able to read. For putting away laundry I drew a hanger, for setting the table I drew a plate and fork.
- Feed the dog
- Set the table
- Clear table
- Clean room
- Put away laundry
- Practice piano
- Sweep under table
- Empty trash
- Wipe tables, counters
- Pull weeds
- Clean mirrors
I also stuck one in the extra jar called “Help Mom and Dad.” If these were job descriptions, this would be the catch-all called “other duties as assigned.”
The basic chores jar (with their name on it) holds all the jobs they need to do throughout the week. This roughly correlates to the basic allowance amount that we give them, so these chores don’t have dollar amounts attached to them. They just need to be done, as part of the family.
The third jar holds extra jobs they can perform to earn extra money. They pull a stick from this jar, do the job, and put the stick in their own jar, once I’ve approved their work.
Then at the end of the week, we add the amount of their basic allowance, plus any extra work they’ve done and pay them the total.
If we feel like they’re not keeping up with their regular jobs, I can pull the appropriate stick out and dock the allowance. No more nagging!
The girls are excited, motivated, and my trashcans throughout the house are magically getting emptied! So far, so good, at least for day 2. I’ll let you know after a few weeks have gone by…
Make your own Chore Jars
This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.
It’s so easy to make your own chore jars! You’ll need:
- A mason jar for each child, plus one extra jar
- Craft paint or chalkboard labels to write each child’s name on their jar
- Large popsicle sticks or tongue depressors
- A sharpie marker
First, write each child’s name on a jar. The third jar doesn’t need to be labeled, but you could call it something like “extra jobs” if you want.
Use a sharpie to make a popsicle stick for each basic chore, for each child. So if you have 3 kids, you’ll need 3 sticks of each basic chore. These sticks go in the named jars.
Then make one popsicle stick for each extra job that you want your kids to do occasionally. (If it should be done every day, that should be a basic chore. If it’s a “sometimes” job, it goes in the extra jobs jar.)
That’s all there is to it! Your kids are ready to start keeping track of their own responsibilities now.
Family Chores Update
After a few weeks, I’m happy to report that this system is working for our family! The kids love moving their sticks from one jar to another and seeing them add up in their jar. And my little one who doesn’t read yet can still look at the drawing at the end of her stick to know what to do.
Anything I can do to get them to help me around the house is a win-win. Plus, they’re learning the value of money, as measured by the work they have to do to earn it. Home economics at work!
Looking for more organizing and planning ideas? Or thrifty home DIY projects? How about free printables? Sign up for the newsletter for the latest ideas on creating a color-filled life!
Monday 16th of November 2020
Do you have a picture that shows all of the sticks completed... i love this idea and would like to see if there’s anything I forgot or didn’t think of for my kids
Wednesday 18th of November 2020
Hi Megan, your comment made me realize I really need to update this post! I don't have a picture handy, but I will get one and add it in, or at least a list for you!
Tuesday 29th of August 2017
What are the things that you stopped paying for now that they have their own money?
Tuesday 5th of September 2017
Hi Heather, the kids now pay for all their "extras" like music, movies, gum, etc. and any clothes or accessories that they want but I don't want to buy for them. It helps them decide what's really important to them, without me having to tell them No all the time. Win-win!
Friday 13th of November 2015
How well did this work long term? (a yr or more) What tweeks did you end up making...I am looking at this as a potential to teach work ethic for my older kids.
Tuesday 17th of November 2015
Hi Meghann, it's funny you ask that this week because we've gotten out of the habit of using them, but I've been thinking I should get started again. It worked really well for my older daughter, who was 7 at the time. My younger one, at 5, was a little ambivalent, but she didn't really have any concept of earning money or allowance yet. We used the system for a long time and I really enjoyed not having to negotiate and nag them constantly to do their chores. After a while, we stopped using the sticks because they could just think of them in their head, but then we fell out of the habit. I think that physical reminder really helped. I think I'm going to reinstate it, and probably adjust the amounts that each chore is worth, plus add a few now that the girls are older. Let me know if it works for you!
Saturday 31st of May 2014
I love this! How have I not seen this before?
Tuesday 3rd of June 2014
Thank you Emily! Yes, this one is an old post, but I still have those jars, and in a good week, we actually use them! :)
Friday 26th of October 2012
this is fantastic!! I would definitely be inspired to do chores...maybe I'll have to make myself some tongue depressors. :D