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
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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!
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