This is a topic that varies family to family and I must say from the outset, I do not believe there is a right or wrong way. I’m sharing what we do in this area because someone asked me and I thought it might help others. This is certainly a topic where you must know why you do what you do.
The question that I was asked was, “Do you pay your kids to work?” and the ensuing conversation was about how much. So here are my thoughts.
My kids help to maintain our home with daily chores because it is their home and because it is a training ground for teaching responsibility. And they don’t get paid. Our chore roster is extensive, and honestly the four kids maintain the daily cleaning of the home with very little being done by me. My role is to teach, train and supervise (and now that the kids are older and more involved outside of the home, I pick up some of their load occasionally). I generally work on the deeper cleaning, floor and food.
They are also completely responsible for their bedroom – not only making beds daily and changing sheets whenever, but the dusting, cobwebs, fingerprints, windows, floor – the lot!
Once our children can do these tasks well – almost as well as an adult, we’ll pay them to do some extra chores that we struggle to find time to do. Wash the car, mow the lawn, wash windows (a task that could be done weekly where we live), the ironing. We set aside an afternoon a week for them to do these chores – of course, if they don’t, they don’t get paid, but the time is there if they are diligent. This is the only money they receive from us, so it is definitely worth it!
So what do we pay them? Certainly not award wages. We feel that while they have the costs of a child, they don’t need an adult’s wage. The other reason is that we want them to truly value the dollar, therefore we don’t want it easy to come by – they need to work for it. Some tasks are paid per task; others are paid by the hour. Once we’ve settled on a rate for each task I write it down – oddly enough the kids often remember things differently than I do and this has eliminated these conversations! The kids have an invoice book where they write down the task they did and the hours etc. They don’t get paid till they present us with an invoice. Once again this is a life skill, should they ever be in business, they need to learn to invoice.
Here are our rates:
- Car $10 inside, $10 outside
- Ironing $1 for t.shirts, $2 for anything else
- Windows $0.50 for windows, $1.00 for doors – inside and out, streak free!
- Lawn $10 using the ride on mower
Most of our costs are worked out roughly on a $10/hour rate – on the basis that they work hard. When others have offered them work, this is the rate that we suggest, sometimes people pay them more but that is their prerogative. The jobs my kids have had with other people have been mainly gardening/weeding and babysitting (though sometimes they organise a night rate).
This of course then leads onto what do they do with their money. We teach them to put money aside for different projects – some goes to God’s kingdom, some for long term savings, some for something special they want to save up for in the short term, and some is simply for spending whenever they want. Until they are earning an adults wage, we don’t expect them to cover any personal expenses. This money is for training – training to work, training to value money and use it wisely.