Any household that runs smoothly likely involves help from everyone in the family. If each member pitches in, house work doesn't seem so daunting. Sometimes, though, kids need a little push to do their chores. I've found that forcing kids to do chores, i.e. treating them as if they are prisoners in a labor camp, can be counter-productive.
Instead, I thought, how do I interest them in doing their chores? I've discovered that "hiring" the kids works wonders! I decided ahead of time which jobs were age-appropriate for each child and made up a job list along with a "pay rate". I "interviewed" each of the kids, which they enjoyed, and found fun. I described the jobs they would be doing and went over the pay for each job. They were excited to start their "jobs" and felt more grown-up now that they were gainfully employed.
For example, cleaning their bathroom pays 3 fake dollars, 4 if they scrub the shower. I will pay 1 fake dollar when the dishwasher is emptied. Folding and putting away their laundry will get them 2 fake dollars. Taking out the trash the night before trash day pays 1 fake dollar. I had designed some fake money on the computer, the "dollars" read: For a job well done! I printed off enough to pay the kids for a month or two. As it is with any regular job, they are responsible for checking off what they complete on the job list and I total the amount they will be paid.
They are also responsible for keeping track of their money. At the end of the work-week, they may "buy" a small item at "Mom's Shop" (these items usually range from a pack of cards, Hotwheels car, or cool yo-yo purchased at the Dollar Store). Or, they can choose to save their money for a bigger-ticket item. If they want something such as a new skateboard or video game, or a trip to the movies and dinner, we discuss how much we believe that item to be worth, and agree on how many fake dollars they will need to save up in order to get it.
This is a fantastic motivator as well as a terrific lesson in working towards purchases. It is never too early to teach kids that things aren't just handed to us. In the real world, just because you want something doesn't entitle you to have it. We, as adults work very hard for the money that gets spent on our families. Most of us put in a 40 hour work week and are grateful to be able to do something fun with our kids or buy something nice for ourselves. I used to joke that my kids were “the hired help”…and now they are!
We no longer fight about who does what chore, and I don’t find myself picking up the slack for the kids’ chores. By dropping the term “chore” and calling it a job, the kids feel a sense of accomplishment, especially when they earn enough to get something BIG! They are more interested in doing the chores…er, jobs, than they ever have been. It’s definitely a win-win for everyone!