This week’s Mailbag Monday post tackles a common question from parents: Should we pay our kids for doing chores? And if so, how much? Read on to learn how we handle this issue in our family.
Question: How much should I pay my child for doing chores?
I am trying to implement paid chores at our house. I’ve told the kids no more allowance and that they can earn money by doing extra jobs. But I’m having trouble coming up with amounts for each job, frequency of jobs, etc.
How do you handle chores with your own children? My kids range in age from 5 to 13. Thanks in advance for any input you can give!
Answer: Here’s what works for us
We assign kids a variety of chores around the house.
- PERSONAL CHORES include things like making their bed, folding their laundry, and keeping their room tidy.
- DAILY CHORES are small tasks that keep the home running smoothly day-to-day, such as setting the table, loading the dishwasher, and taking out the trash.
- WEEKLY CHORES include deep-cleaning tasks we normally do once a week, like vacuuming and mopping the entire house, scrubbing bathrooms, dusting furniture, or mowing the lawn.
- SEASONAL CHORES are jobs that we do less frequently: raking leaves, cleaning the garage, chopping firewood, etc.
We do not pay our kids for personal and daily chores.
We believe that every able-bodied person who lives in a house should pitch in and contribute to its upkeep. Our kids will need to do these kind of chores wherever they live for the rest of their lives, and we want them to be proficient at them when they move out.
We expect them to attend to these tasks faithfully and cheerfully. No grumbling or procrastinating allowed. For an explanation of how we rotate through the various chore assignments, see this post: Making Chore Assignments
We do pay our kids for weekly and seasonal chores.
We also want our kids to learn how to manage money. Since we have never given them an allowance, the best way we’ve found for them to learn money-management skills is to pay them to do these bigger tasks.
Pay for such chores varies, depending on the size job, the age of the child, and his ability to do the work well.
I suggest you take into consideration how much it would cost to hire a professional to do the same job. For instance, say a weekly maid service would charge you $100 to clean your house. If you divide that fee into the separate tasks the cleaning service would do, you might get a pay scale that looks like this: $100 = $15 to dust furniture + $5 to clean each of three bathrooms + $20 to deep clean the kitchen + $20 to vacuum bedrooms + $30 to sweep and mop living areas.
If your child is capable of working independently and can do one or more of these tasks as thoroughly as the professionals would, then pay him accordingly.
If he needs lots of help and training and supervision, pay him less until he is able to do the work on his own.
In our family, children five and under usually work beside Mom for nominal pay, if any: I might pay them a dollar or two to “help” me weed the garden or rake leaves.
By the time they are six or seven, they begin to take a sincere interest in earning money: I’ll assign those kids a chore like cleaning baseboards or vacuuming under the cushions of the couch and let them work independently.
Our kids who are twelve and older are especially motivated to earn money: We depend on them to do the bulk of the housecleaning and yard work and pay them well to do it, because by that age:
- They can do just as thorough a job as a professional, so they really earn the money
- This is a relatively pain-free way to save for their future, since they are required to deposit 40% of everything they earn directly into their college savings accounts (which is roughly equivalent to what they’ll someday pay in taxes), and
- It provides cash for clothes and entertainment, which they must pay for themselves once they turn twelve
For more ideas, check out our list of age-appropriate chores. Hope these tips help. Happy training!