I am one of those parents that think chores are a good idea. Chores teach the kids how to do basic housekeeping. They teach them the value of taking care of their things and their home. They teach them that they too have something important to contribute to our home. But man is it a pain getting those kids to actually do the chores!
Over the years I’ve tried lots of systems. Lots. I’ve had reminder charts. I have used incentives – both monetary and other rewards. I’ve assigned chores. I’ve posted a list and let them pick what they wanted to do. I’ve posted a list with dollar amounts associated so they could even decide how much money they earned. I’ve used a point system. I’ve done darn near everything I can think of. They all work for a while and then I have to rotate my system to inspire them to start working again. The system we’ve got right now has had decent success:
1. I assign each child a chore of the week. I make a point of not giving them the same chore back to back. They are allowed to trade chores with each other if both parties are agreeable.
2. They are also each responsible for cleaning their room weekly.
3. They can decide when to do the chores, but if they’re not done by Sunday night they are grounded from all screen time (computer, TV, video games, yes even that cell phone 12yo of mine) until the chores are done.
I’m not paying them to do the chores. They are doing the chores as part of their responsibilities as members of this house. There are indeed weeks where one or the other of them is not spending any time in front of a screen (ahem 9yo who thinks it’s worth it to skip her chore because she’d rather read most of the time anyway). But for the most part they do the work. The list is posted in the kitchen for all to see and serve as a reminder.
When we are coming up on a vacation I will add some monetary incentives so they can earn money for souvenirs. They are still asked from time to time to do something extra – and expected to comply pleasantly. All in all, I’m happy with the current system. Besides as they get older they are harder to trick into doing anything – if this ends up failing I think I’m going to make them watch this 20/20 special on homeless teens – because when you’re weighing emptying the trash vs working to literally put food in your mouth – it doesn’t make those chores seem so bad after all.