Chores, Charts and Allowances for Tweens (Alternatively Titled: “Shouldn’t We Have This Figured Out By Now?”)

Disclosure:  I was compensated by MomSelect in exchange for reviewing the GoalForIt Chore Chart.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Start typing my name into an iPhone, and it wants to auto-correct it to “nag.”  Certain members of my family might find this amusing, but I find it hits a little too close to home.

Yes, Ang likes to nag.  Ang especially likes to nag Elena.

Are your clothes in the hamper? Did you brush your hair and teeth? Homework done? Is your backpack ready to go? Is your room picked up?.  Is it really picked up? And so on and so forth.  It gets old.  I get tired of listening to myself, and judging from the heavy sighs and eye-rolling, Elena doesn’t find it very endearing, either.

Every family has its strengths and weaknesses and I’m here to admit that holding our kids responsible for chores and following through with payment is a major weakness for us.  We’ve been through a few different systems, both for chores and deciding upon how to reward chores done,  and none of them seem to have stuck.  Our issues fall into a couple of categories.

  1. We don’t have a set list of chores that we expect Elena to complete. We know what chores she’s capable of, and should be doing, but they’re not written out anywhere and they’re certainly not followed up on consistently.  We know she can get her dirty clothes from her room to the laundry room, and some days we expect she do it … but other days I just do it for her.  It’s faster, I’m doing laundry anyways, yadda yadda.
  2. We can’t seem to stick to a system for communicating chores and what they’re worth. We’ve tried a few different charts, and some have worked okay, but they never last.  I think this has less to do with the chart than it does with the fact that we’ve never come to an agreement on how to pay out for chores.  Do you earn money for everything?  If so, how much is appropriate for a 9-year-old?  Or are some chores just things you do as part of a family while others are worth money?  Do you get a certain amount of money just for existing, whether you do the chores or not?  Do you get punished for not doing chores, or do you just not get paid?
  3. We’re horrible at following through with payment. Again, probably because we’re not sold on how exactly to divvy out payment, but we don’t consistently pay on time.  And there we come full circle:  if I was working and not always getting paid, would I do what was asked?  Or would I simply endure the nagging like Elena does?

A few weeks ago I was asked to check out GoalForIt, a free, customizable chore chart that can be used on or off-line.  To date, we’ve only tried written chore charts.  Elena loves any chance to get on the computer, so I thought this would be a good system to try.

We’ve been using it for almost 2 weeks now.  There are several things I like about this online system versus other chore charts we’ve tried:

  • Customizable: You or your child can tweak the chart to your liking, including colors, and themed templates.  You can then add items to the chart, with different choices for chores, behavior, and healthy habits.   You also have the option to add custom tiles if you don’t see something you’d like to add to the chart.  Rather use a paper-based system?  You can print out the charts instead.
  • E-mail notification: You have the option to set up daily, weekly or monthly email updates for each chart, which helps us follow-through with payment.
  • Reward Tracking: You can assign each chore a point to help with tracking, whether for allowance or for a different reward system.  You also have the ability to create your own reward system, if you’re choosing activities and things over money.
  • Free: I’ve seen several systems that require some kind of fee.  I’m loathe to invest in anything if I’m not sure we’ll stick with it.

There are a few things we wish were different:

  • Tween/Teen Choices: Elena wanted to use the tween templates, but the items available to add to the chart are pretty limited, and a little odd (“Have a balanced day?”).  The choices for the kids’ charts were still age-appropriate, but the graphics were on the babyish side for her preference.
  • Have Monetary Option: Completing items on the chart earns you points.  It would be nice to have the option to have items worth a monetary amount instead.  Otherwise, you have to decide how much each point would be worth and document that somewhere else.  One more step makes it that much harder for us to remain consistent.

After 2 weeks, I could see this as a system we could make work.  I’ll probably still be on the search for something that helps us track payment.  I definitely like the idea of having something online, as that seems to be slightly more motivating for Elena.  I still find myself having to remind her to fill out the chart, so any suggestions you have to help us motivate her to take more initiative would be greatly appreciated.  In the meantime, we’ll continue to use GoalForIt – paperless and free is always the preferred method for us!

How do you manage chores and allowance for the older child in your home?  If you have a system that works, please share!  And if you’re having difficulties like us, where do you struggle?

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  1. We struggle with these exact things. Although I am more of the school of thought that allowance and chores are separate…but we don’t do either well.

    If you assigned a value to the points, and then didn’t deliver on the rewards unless the points were tracked, would Elena be more inclined to track on her own? Maybe a certain number of points could equal basic privileges and above that would be a monetary reward — which means she wouldn’t get regular perks unless she tracked her progress.

    • I think I lean more towards that school of thought as well, that chores and allowance should be separate somehow. It’s probably different for different kids, but I find that Elena isn’t overly motivated by money. So if we give her things that she should be doing as a contributing member of the family and tie them into money, she’s fine with not doing the chores if she’s not interested in buying anything at the moment. It feels like we are failing in many ways – not teaching responsibility, not teaching tasks that are age-appropriate, losing opportunities to teach her how to handle money, all because we’re stumbling on semantics. I think our largest hurdle is just picking a system and sticking with it until doing the work and paying out becomes habit … and perhaps finding out what her incentives are and offering rewards based on that instead of money.

  2. We’re trying to figure out what the girls should do as part of our family, and what they should be paid for. It’s hard to figure out where to draw the line, so we just haven’t yet. And need to. Tell me how wouldn’t you? 🙂

    • As soon as I figure it all out I’ll let you know! I do know this: we have to adjust how much chores are worth. After Elena finished her first week of chores (with a decent number not completed), she still managed to earn $6! If she were to do every chore, every week she’d probably end up making more than me!