Have you ever wondered whether you should pay your kids to do chores? Are your kids reluctant workers around the house? In my family, we don’t pay our kids to do their chores. And they don’t get a choice about doing their chores either. We’re not mean parents. We just want something great for our kids. Want to know what that is?
When I was growing up in Barbados, my siblings and I had a lot of jobs that we did around our house;
- helping my dad make fresh sandwiches at 6am before school to sell to businesses in town.
- Washing the poop off our balcony from the 300 birds we bred at our home. :0
- Answering the telephone in my mum’s basement beauty clinic after school and many others!
We didn’t get paid for a single one! You could say that my parents got a whole lot of free labour out of us!! And yes! They did!! But all of that labour did us a whole lot of good. If you’ve ever watched the movie Karate Kid, then you’ll know where I’m going with this. The process of doing manual labour – with the right attitude – can be really transformative.
Here I’ve listed three reasons why we don’t pay our kids to do their chores.
1. I’m the mum, not the maid!
First off, my kids are part of the family. And as such, they are also responsible for helping to keep our home tidy. They make a mess, they should pick it up! But it goes further than just tidying up one’s own mess. I don’t only wash my own clothes or cook meals just for myself at dinnertime. Likewise, I want my kids to do work that benefits the other members of the family as well – and not just themselves!
2. Some jobs aren’t optional
Creating a payment incentive for a job gives the impression that the job isn’t critical. If the child doesn’t mind not getting paid, why should they do the job? I don’t want to give my kids the option of saying they don’t need the money, so they’ll just pass on the job. Because when you have a job that must get done, whether you like it or not, it just needs to get done. I think a payment system only really works for irregular, superfluous or non-crucial jobs – like scanning my receipts into Evernote or polishing daddy’s boots!
3. I want my kids to have a different reward
I want my kids to work diligently just for the reward of a job well done and not because there’s a financial pay off. What’s the difference between a competitor who wants to get the prize and one who wants to break the record? The answer is the former one will compete with the effort required to achieve that goal – and in some cases, the minimum effort required. Whilst the latter will spend months training and disciplining themselves to go above and beyond what is required.
That’s the attitude I want for my kids. That “I want to do my best, whether it’s acknowledged or not” attitude. That attitude of diligence regardless of the pay off.
Proverbs 18v9 says “He who is slack in his work is a brother to him who destroys”. That’s our memory verse for this week. And it prompted this post you’re reading now. My kids and I talked about what it meant to be slack in our work and why it was important to do a good job in everything that we do even if no one was watching. Going above and beyond what is required is not a natural lesson to learn. And it doesn’t come easy to young kids! But I know that the effort will be totally worth it.
The long haul
Parenting isn’t an easy job. Definitely not for the faint of heart! And it really is a marathon rather than a sprint! And for that reason, as parents, we need to keep our sights on the end goal. My kids have to do their chores unpaid because I’m not the maid. They have to do their chores because their chores aren’t optional and need to get done, regardless. And my kids don’t get paid for them because we want them to work diligently even when no one is grading their work or there is no financial reward. In essence, we’re teaching our kids to have a work ethic that is more concerned with the quality of the job they’re doing than what they’re getting out of it. And this lesson isn’t a sprint. We’re in this for the long haul!
How do you do chores in your home? I love to hear different perspectives on this. We’re still learning as we go!