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Chores, Part 2

2011 May 4
by Pamela

In my last installment about the birth of chores or “How Daddy Got Played”, I wrote about how we decided it was time for Mary Claire to start earning money of her own.

The biggest problem for me was deciding what should be considered a chore.  She is getting what I think is big money for a five-year-old, so things like “brushing your teeth” shouldn’t count.  God gave you teeth so you brush them.  The end.  But at the same time, there are only so many jobs she is strong and tall enough to be able to do.  I wasn’t willing to give her the money for her glittering personality alone, but I had to figure out what she was capable of doing.

And that’s where the good ole’ world wide web came in.  I scoured blogs and web sites in the name of research and got some ideas of things kids her age were doing and how other families differentiated between “you live here so you help” and extra things worthy of pay.

After I read this post it helped me know I was on the right track.  Our kids aren’t just going to get money for being “in existence”.  As the author concluded, being “in existence” starts to cost quite a bit when they are teenagers. 

In the end I did two things that helped:  First, I kept a small notepad and pen with me for a whole day and wrote down every single thing that I asked or expected her to do, things like passing out the morning vitamins to putting her dirty clothes in the hamper.  It made me realize just how much she does everyday.  The second thing I did was walk around the house and yard, thinking about what needed to happen in each space and what she could be expected to contribute. 

In the end, everything got broken into three categories:

1.  You have a body, clothes, and toys, therefore you take care of them (and I’m not paying you to do it).

2.  You live in a house with a family, therefore you do some things each day to show you appreciate both (and I’m not paying you for that either).

3.  You can do extra things that don’t fall into either of the above categories and we will pay you to do them,  provided you do them well and without complaint. 

So that’s what we did.  I made a list of things we wanted her to do on a daily or weekly basis that were age-appropriate and truly helpful.  I figured my end of this deal was over.  Next I was going to think about what I should wear in Chicago as I cried in front of Harpo Productions, knowing I was never going to see an Oprah taping.

But of course writing up her jobs and posting them on the fridge was not the end of this story.   So next time  I’ll write about how to help an early reader actually understand what her chores are and how to streamline the chore system.  AND!! I will reveal the Most Gorgeous And Helpful Chore Chart You’ve Ever Seen in Your Entire Life!!!!!!(trademark pending).

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  1. Chores, Part 3 | Under the Juniper Tree

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