I’ve written about chores here before. In the spirit of being honest, I have to tell you we abandoned Chore Wars shortly after trying it. There were 3 problems: 1) –Me. I hate having to log in separately for each boy to keep track of his tasks; heck, I hate tracking things in general. 2) –The text-based nature of the program. The older boys are particularly motivated by images and not text. 3) –Ultimately it felt artificial, keeping track of points or chores completed on a computer program.
I’ve pondered this one a great deal. Why do I have such a hangup about chores and also about allowances? I want to have the boys do chores. I want them to earn money. Poor Hubby has listened to me go on and on about it over the years, first trying one thing and then another in my search for the right balance. We tried just giving them allowances but they wound up with money coming out their ears and we felt like they were getting a skewed understanding of the value of money. For the past year or two, we had a list of various housekeeping tasks with a value attached. If a boy wanted to do a particular chore we’d pay him for it.
The chore list had interesting results. The Mercenary could do most of the jobs on the list – not exactly to my very high standards, but he did do the job – and would. He earned a great deal of money. TechnoBoy wasn’t as interested, so he earned very little. Unfortunately I still couldn’t get the tracking thing right so it often took me too long to pay them. I’m working on that. Really. I am. I owe it to them to be more consistent.
About 2 months ago, I started insisting that boys make their beds and brush their teeth before they could look at a screen. Oh, and I’ve been asking them to clear their own dishes from the table. When I remember, lol. It’s just easier to do it myself, but I have to get them in the habit of cleaning up after themselves. (Their future wives are depending on me.) This has been pretty successful. I don’t pay for these particular chores, and the rest of the list is paid chores.
Things got a bit rough around here at the end of winter/beginning of spring because we were all getting impatient with each other. I’ve seen vast improvement, both because of my attempts to communicate clearly and their improved listening.
The super-amazing-wonderful-awesome thing that’s happened lately is the boys joining with me and their dad in various projects. The older boys each helped spread mulch, sprinkle fertilizer, and trim back dead plants in April. As a result, the work is done! We’re ready for spring and the garden earlier than ever and had a really fun time working together in the process. This week we’re going to get bird and butterfly feeders put up and the boys can pick out flowers for planting.
So, here’s where I’m not sure. I love love love the teamwork thing that’s been happening. I’d also love to ditch the chore list because it’s such an effort to make sure the job is done and dig up the money to pay on the spot. If the helpfulness kept up, I could see going back to an allowance of some sort. I’m happy to give money to boys who are contributing to the general welfare of the family. I want them to have money now to get used to handling it and learn some lessons while they’re little.
What do you think? What’s a good balance between allowance and chores? Do you tie the two together? Keep them separate? Should I keep the list AND do the allowance? Do you not assign chores, or not give allowance? What should I dooooooo?
Photo graciously provided by kellyandapril, through a Creative Commons license, some rights reserved