Today’s blog post is written by Carrie Davis who is a freelance writer, artist, and photographer. She is also the CEO of an at-home painting party company called Swirls, and part owner of Lowcountry Heritage Farms. She is the wife of a sustainable organic farmer in Charleston, South Carolina and Mom of three children.
To pay or not to pay for chores? That is a great question. In fact, itʼs a question that my own family recently grappled with, as our children seemingly matured overnight and began to ask for their own money to spend. Catapulted into a new parenting season, my husband and I realized that we werenʼt sure of how to offer our children opportunities to earn their own money. Should we pay them a weekly allowance? Should we determine chores and pay them per chore completed? Because we didnʼt know the wisest answer to these questions, we did what all good parents do…we Googled it.
In researching the topic, I was surprised to find that the matter is somewhat divisive. There is a split amongst parents and even family-finance experts. Some believe children should be paid to do household chores, while others believe that chores and money-earning opportunities should be separate. True to most major parenting questions, we did not find a clearly decisive “right” answer on this matter. Where was the Magic Eight Ball when it came to chores and children? We Googled some more…One camp of parents and financial experts hold firm that household duties should be rewarded with a weekly allowance. “Chores” are any work done to keep a household running, such as setting the table, doing laundry, feeding pets, etc. These jobs are paid for with a “salary,” so-to-speak, on a regular basis. As a result of children working for their money to maintain the household, they come to understand the effort required in earning money and running a home.
A second camp of parents and financial experts believe that household chores should
not be rewarded monetarily, but rather children should earn money through other opportunities. “Household chores” are the work children do because they are members of the family, such as keeping their rooms clean, setting the table, unloading the dishwasher, etc. They should not get paid for doing this type of work, they merely do it because they are a part of the family and everyone in the family should contribute to the running of the home. Children can then earn money by doing miscellaneous chores after all household chores have been completed. Miscellaneous chores are usually jobs that parents might pay someone else to do, like washing the car, painting the fence, babysitting a sibling, etc.
A few years ago we somehow landed on the nickname “Team Davis” for our family, which is hilarious considering the fact that none of us are really athletes. But the name has stuck, and Iʼve found that we truly are a team. My husband and I wanted to foster a sense of teamwork as a family, and impart in our children that we are a unit. With this mentality in mind, we opted for the second stance on chores. We found an iPad chore chart app that allowed us to create a unique household chore chart for each child. As each chore was completed, the child earned a star by their name. This was enough incentive for them in the beginning, but as my oldest son grew and matured, we noticed an entrepreneurʼs mind in him. He was always searching for a way to earn money. So we decided on several miscellaneous chores that he could choose to earn money. We were amazed at how responsive he was to this! He earned close to $10 his first opportunity to choose a miscellaneous chore, which was a LOT of money considering we had only offered him $0.25 for every pipe he laid in a plumbing project my husband was working on. We found that our second child was not as monetarily motivated, and rather values our praise and appreciation more than money. But when she has earned money, she thoroughly enjoys putting some in her savings jar, some in her spending jar, and some in her giving jar.
All in all, Google could not tell us the wisest decision regarding chores and allowances for our personal family, but it did offer much food for thought and plenty of family discussion. I donʼt know that there is necessarily a right or a wrong answer to this question, but I do personally believe that all money should be earned, regardless of whether or not it is earned from doing household chores or miscellaneous chores. Either way you and your family decide, let me congratulate you on now being in a season of life where you have some help around the house….free or paid!