Navigating Family Household Chores

Navigating family household chores with children, along with money, allowance, and finances can be a tricky and sensitive topic for a lot of families. Here are some personal recommendations on the topic and how we navigate family household chores in our own family.

Navigating Family Household Chores:

When Kyle was about 2-3 years old I made an online chore chart, bought some stickers from the dollar store, and even wrote an entire blog post about my amazing parenting skills (eye roll), and how I planned on doing chores with Kyle. The thing is though, when you're implementing anything into your home, it has to be sustainable. Maybe chore charts work well long term in your home, but for us, Derek and I don't have the energy to keep up with rotating zone charts, stickers, or anything super regimented.

Navigating Family Household Chores

Alternative to Chore Charts:

I really don't have a name for this other than "expectations". I think the kids know really well what the expectations are in our home and how we do things. The fact that Kyle has been around for eight years means that he knows the rhythm of our home really well and just knows what he needs to be doing at any given point in the day. 

If Kyle just ate breakfast, he knows to put his dishes in the sink, put the food away that he got out, and clean up any mess left in his space. Same with snacks and other meals. Before bedtime every night he knows he needs to clean his room. He knows at some point during the day I'm going to ask him to take out the recycling. And that while Derek is getting Kinsley in bed, I'm going to have him help me clean the main floor of the house and get things tidied before I read him a story.

Navigating Family Household Chores

Progressing Chores with Age:

As Kyle has gotten older we've obviously given him more responsibilities. When he was 18 months until he was about 4 he mostly just helped clean up toys before bed. When he was 5 we started having him clean his own room and make his bed. Sometime last year we put him in charge of taking out all the recycling. When we've lived in a home with a backyard, we've had him be the one to pick up all the dog poop. This year we had him start taking control of putting his own laundry away. 

As Kyle gets older we'll just keep adding more tasks such as doing his own laundry, mowing the lawn, doing dishes, etc...  

I think that your home can have a natural flow and energy where everyone knows their roles, and just by living in that home, your child will learn your personal family culture and fall in line with whatever method you decide to implement in your home. 

How to Handle Chores with A Physically Disabled Child?

Honestly if you have a child with a physical disability I'm sure you know the challenge that comes with trying to make their "expectations" in the home fair, especially when compared to what the other sibling(s) are doing. 

Right now with Kinsley we're focusing on just a lot of her own self-care tasks. Can she brush her own teeth? Can she get herself dressed? Can she brush her own hair? Those things are hard for her and I think those basic things count as chores in their own right. (She still needs assistance to do these things, but we're working on that independence). 

Other things we have her do is wipe her own face and hands, and spot at the table after each meal. If she has a pile of laundry ready to be put away she will crawl back and forth from my room to her room with each piece of clothing and put them in the right drawers. Are they put away neatly? No, but she did it herself and that's what counts more than anything. (Also typing this made me question why we don't just put the basket of her clothes next to her dresser to make it a little easier on here. Proof I'm not a perfect human, and have never claimed to be one).

Other things we have Kinsley do is put all her toys back in the right bins when she's done playing. She has a box full of occupational therapy toys that she uses daily, and she knows to clean them all up and put them away when we're done. 

This is obviously going to be so specific to whatever your child's current abilities are, but I think anything you can do to help any child contribute to the housework and chores and be a part of the family culture is so important for them to not only learn how to do those things and become independent, but also to feel like they're a part of the family.  

Navigating Family Household Chores

Why We Don't Compensate our Children for Chores:

Honestly we don't. It's something that we've tried to keep up with in the past, and again, call us lazy but we just don't have the energy to keep up with it. It is something that I really want to get better at though because I think there are so many important money management skills that can be taught with this. 

I will say though that I only remember a small handful of years that my brother and I actually got a weekly allowance and then I remember that getting phased out pretty hard when we were around middle school. (My parents are divorced, so when that happened we pretty much just went to our dad's house on the weekend and he just gave us money for whatever, not saying that was ideal but it was the situation). I also worked from 9th grade all the way through high school so by then I pretty much had my own money anyways. 

All that to say I don't think "allowance" money is the only way that you can teach your children about money because it wasn't a huge focal point in our home and I think my siblings and I left home with enough money sense to avoid debt, don't spend what you don't have, and save what you can for a rainy day. (My brother did that last part a lot better than me).

How Our Kids Get Money:

As far as money that the kids do get, we have grandparents that send them money in the mail a few times a year, and whenever we find change in the car or around the house, we tend to dish that out to the kids. In fact, during quarantine Kyle said he wanted to spend the money he had, and when we added it up he had about $76 in coins. So for a kid who doesn't get a weekly allowance, our system of handing out loose change as a reward for being a functioning member of the family had worked out pretty well. 

From there we were able to talk about how much money he had, what he wanted to spend it on (he bought two toys, one for him and one for Kinsley and had $20 left), and we went to the store where he took his own money, counted it out, and paid for it on his own. 

All of this to say is that we have pretty loose systems in our house when it comes to chores and money, but I think it also proves that you don't need to have super regimented systems in place to teach your children the skills you want them to learn. Every family works differently and as long as you have something in your home that is working for your family, that is all that really matters!

I would love to hear in the comments below what chores, allowance, and expectations all look like in your home! 

As a side note, after writing this post, I found this article from Positive Parenting Solutions about Why Chores and Allowance Shouldn't Be Tied Together, and all I can say is YES. Ten fist bumps. 

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  1. We do not give our kids an allowance. We do have expectations on what they are to accomplish, what chores are expected. For example, my kids are responsible for folding all the clothes, except Mom and Dads. They stick ours in a pile and they fold and put away all the rest. They are also responsible for spraying all the stains they get on them every day...when they bring their dirty clothes out to my laundry room. We gave them the main rooms of the house to keep tidied, and their bedrooms. The older they get the better they have done at keeping things clean. But we do not give them much, if any money. They get birthday money from grandparents, and earn money thru babysitting or doing things for others. The one thing my kids have become better than I thought they would be is saving their money for things they really want. And it is super rewarding to watch them spend their own money for gifts for their siblings for birthdays. I do agree, money and chores should not be tied together.

    1. Yes to everything you said! I think kids can naturally learn so much just from letting certain things be a natural part of home and life without everything needing to be so regimented!