Can't Buy Me Love? Not For Chores Anyway.

This post is fourth in a series on chores for kids . . . see also here and here and here.

So, if we don't usually do chore charts, how do chores get done around here? The answer is: they get done FIRST THING IN THE MORNING. We get up, we do chores. Sometimes before breakfast, sometimes right after breakfast.

Anita (3) puts away shoes,
and unloads clean silverware.
Gus (5) empties all the little trash cans
in the house into the kitchen trashcan.
Bobby (7) unloads the dishwasher.
Betty (8) takes out the trash and recycling,
sorts the recyclables,
tidies up the girls' room,
and gets out clothes for the girls.
Jack (10) feeds and waters the chickens,
brings in the eggs
(we are attempting some suburban pioneering,
more on that another time),
tidies up the boys' room,
and gets out clothes for the boys.

Each kid is also supposed to make his own bed, put his pajamas away, and clear his breakfast dishes. The rest of the day, I assign chores as they come up. If I see you, you're probably getting a chore. This has the added bonus of making them want to stay outside, out of sight. And, honestly, if there are no kids underfoot, I'm pretty likely to just do whatever it was myself.

Setting the table, running the stick vac, taking a dirty diaper to the stinky diaper can, cleaning up a particular area, getting little ones ready for naps or buckled into the car . . . all of these are assigned on an ad hoc basis to the nearest kid. I do try to be fair. But no complaining is tolerated. The only acceptable response is, "O-kay Mama."

For our big afternoon cleanup before dinner, everyone gets an assignment and we all tidy at once. Usually to the tune of Irish folk music. Or Gene Autry.

Snow White was right: "It won't take long if there's a song to help you set the pace." But also, bunnies do her dishes. So that saves some time too.

We do try to have fun. And setting an example of chore-doing myself helps avoid resentment. But we don't give kids any kind of reward for the accomplishment of everyday chores, nor do we give our kids an allowance. We do sometimes pay our kids for non-essential bigger tasks like washing the car or major yard work. I also think compensation is appropriate for babysitting siblings, especially to underscore the importance of the job. I am all for kids' learning to handle money. But I am against just giving it to them to accomplish that purpose.

When Jack was six years old, we asked him to bring in the empty curbside trash cans of our elderly neighbor (since he was already out there doing ours). She insisted on giving him a dollar for his trouble, and since then he has grown his little business, until now he has seven customers and probably makes $10 a week since some of his customers believe a 100% tip is appropriate.

This is his flyer:

Betty, who is in charge of sorting the recycling each day, gets to go with dad to the recycling center and turn it all in. And she gets to keep the money they make.

It's harder than it used to be for a kid to find a job (I'm pretty sure paper boys and match girls don't exist anymore, at least not in the greater Los Angeles area) but our kids have managed to find a way to make some money on their own, so they can now commence learning to be responsible with it. Or just keep buying LEGOs. One of the two.