Making Allowances (aka: A Chore System for Kids)

Have you established a chore system for kids in your house?

If not, you should consider it.

Years ago I attended a Mother of Middle Schoolers meeting led by Marya, a fabulous gal slightly further down the parenting path than me.

That morning I learned that I stood alone in the I-do-every-single-thing-for-my-kids camp. 

“When did your kids start doing chores?” I asked the ladies.

“Kindergarten,” some answered.

“When they were three,” others said.

“I’ve got a chore system for kids I can share,” said Marya. “If you decide you want to go that route.”

Later that day, I posed a question to my husband:

“What are your thoughts on kids doing chores?”

“I’m actually not a fan of kids doing chores,” Tony said. “The day will come soon enough when they have to work for a living, all day every day, for the rest of their lives. I think while they’re young, kids should just get to be kids.”

To which I replied, “I think it’s important for kids to pitch in and help. To instill work ethic and initiative.” Under my breath I murmured, “And to help me not feel overwhelmed.”

“If it’s important to you, Sunshine,” Tony said, “I will absolutely support a chore system.”

And so I emailed my new friend and asked for:

Marya’s Super-Duper Chore System for Kids

Every week, each child has the potential to earn a full allowance: one quarter for each year old they are (ie. A 4-year old can earn $1/week).

With each child, establish a list of reasonable daily chore expectations such as:

  1. Make your bed each morning.
  2. Accomplish one chore.

Daily chores can include activities such as:

Empty dishwasher

Dust Mop

Clean a bathroom sink

Dump the compost bucket on the compost pile in the back yard

Be a kitchen helper during supper preparation

Take trash cans down to the curb on the night before trash day

Feed the family pet(s) breakfast and/or dinner

Scoop the kitty litter

Clean the hamster’s cage

Set the table for supper

Clear the table after supper

Load the dishwasher

On the computer, create a chore chart you can print out each week. 

Your kids will hopefully make their bed each morning. The time of day they do their daily chore, though, is up to them, unless it’s feeding the family pet breakfast. Our kids usually did their daily chore as soon as they came home from school.

At the end of the week, if a child has performed all their chores, they get paid. Hooray!! 

But what if a child doesn’t do their chore(s)? Gasp!

During the week, parents need to be glancing at the chore chart on a daily basis. If a child fails to perform one of their chores, an “L” will be marked on that particular day’s square. “L” stands for “lapse.”

  • One lapse results in the child’s weekly “salary” being halved.
  • Two lapses, and that week’s salary is eliminated.
  • Three “lapses” and television viewing rights are suspended.
  • Four lapses, and daily computer/video game time goes away.

As it turns out, some children are not financially motivated. That’s where the impingement on television and computer/video game time comes in handy. If another “negative reinforcement” would work better in your house, feel free to use it.

Optional component: Payday in our house was on Saturday. We followed Marya’s rule that if a child’s room didn’t “pass inspection”—ie. It was a piggy mess.—a parent had the right to withhold salary until the room successfully passed inspection.

For a nice selection of potential chore charts, click here

There’s a hidden bonus behind a chore system with salary.

Having the kids earn an allowance at home via chores solved a pressing problem in our family. The frequent need to purchase a toy or food treat at Walmart, the grocery store, or The Dollar Store.

Once the kids were earning money, they were always reminded before we left the house, “If you think you’ll want to buy something when we’re out, bring your own money please.”

A funny thing happens when you’re spending your own cash, not someone else’s: you spend less. 


People have strong feelings about kids doing chores. Where do you stand on the subject?

Tips for chore charts, allowances, chore systems for kids Tips for chore charts, allowances, chore systems for kids

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