Should kids do chores? Should they get pocket money in return? We asked some friends of Mr Fox what happens in their house. Join the debate and let us know where you stand.
Pippa Heggie: Zac (6) wrote himself a list of chores in the Easter holidays following a discussion about pocket money. On the first day he hurtled round the house and garden tidying his toys, clearing up the garden stuff, ensuring there were sufficient spare toilet rolls in each bathroom and having a go at folding his own clothes (to be fair an attempt no worse than his father’s!). Alex (4) does a very good job of sorting and folding everyone’s socks. Then he asked for his pound and I pointed out that this was going to be based on making a concerted effort to do the chores throughout the week with pocket money being given on Sunday at bedtime… so far so good!
Isabelle Regent-Ngwata: We have a list of chores in exchange for pocket money and have had it for years. What we have struggled with is consistency. It all works well for a few months and then fades. Then the need for money arises and chores are done again. Philosophically, I am not sure we have it right. In a sense, chores are just part of their familial responsibility, (I don’t always feel like cooking or doing the school run but I do it because that is what the family requires) and should not be discretionary. If the table is not set or the dog is not fed because the kids are not interested in pocket money at the moment, it just means I pick up the slack. I could start WW3, but my ability to argue for the kids to step up is undermined by them saying ‘fine, just don’t give me money this week’. I have the carrot, but should I have a stick too?
Cheryl Wannell: My girls have a tally chart each for pocket money on a blackboard in the kitchen and they can choose when to cash it in. They earn money by going out of their way to be helpful or doing jobs that I would otherwise need to do. Mostly, they identify the task without being asked, e.g. empty the dishwasher or do the vacuuming, but sometimes, if one child is ‘lagging behind’ on the tally chart, I identify tasks that will enable them to earn some extra money (that always seems to be the same daughter!). They do not get financial reward for daily chores, which are their responsibility anyway, such as feeding/cleaning the rabbits or putting their clothes away. But I always praise them when they do those tasks without having to remind them! I think a different approach is required depending on their age, but this is definitely working for us at the moment. .
Ellen Al-Hashimi: Toby is 2 and we have reward chart for helping make his bed, tidying up toys, setting the table, etc. Start ’em young I say!
Alice Lushington: I ask for something to be done and reward with praise: “You are so helpful to mummy!” and it works! I think children benefit from having a mild responsibility and then being appreciated for doing it. It gives them a sense of esteem and value within the household. A little chore each week makes them feel important, helpful and part of the family cogs
Kate Midda: My two are still quite young (3 and 5) and we are totally inconsistent with things like keeping a tidy bedroom, but we do have a few simple chores that I expect them to carry out on a daily basis like clearing their plates after meals, putting any rubbish in the bin, hanging up coats & shoes when they come in etc. If they let their bedroom get into a state, they are read the riot act and made to tidy it up. But if they do it without asking (which is very rare) they are given money for their money box.
Alexander Wilson: When our kids were little they all helped with kitchen chores at home and on camping holidays they scampered around doing jobs. All of them could cook when they left home. We could not afford regular pocket money and they did not ask. They seemed to have a happy childhood. All got outside jobs later, e.g. paper round, Saturday girl and boy in shops.
Lisa Rushmere: In essence, my daughter (8) helps with jobs, but I am not as structured as I would like to be about it. It is ad hoc according to the day. I think if I had three or four kids, I would probably have charts/blackboards with jobs of day… She sets the table, loads dishwasher etc., she always makes her bed and generally dislikes mess so will put toys or colouring away without me telling her to do it. I think more specific jobs would be good at this stage, and teaches responsibility and household awareness. I don’t enforce, I encourage and I don’t specifically reward aside from verbal praise (we aren’t into pocket money yet) but she generally really likes to help and loves being given the responsibility of a task, particularly now with a baby sister. I think it is good for them and if we had pets she would definitely be feeding the dog/fish.
Charley Heathcote: Sometimes I feel like a hypocrite when I ask my son (3) to do chores because I think it’s ‘important’, while at the same time I’m aware that he doesn’t really have an example set for him by his parents. We have a full time housekeeper. He told me not to touch the Hoover once when I went to clear up a broken glass at the weekend, as it ‘wasn’t for Mummy’.
Annie Tickner: Mercy (7) and Isaac (5) don’t typically do any chores around the house and I have no plans to introduce them any time soon. Part of the reason is that, from a lazy Mum point of view, it’s enough of a challenge getting them to stay clean and nourished, get some sleep and do their homework without adding extra things for me to nag about or new rules that I feel bad about letting slide after a few weeks. Every now and again both of them surprise me by just doing things, like putting their dishes in the dishwasher or (Mercy’s favourite), changing the loo roll when it runs out. The delight we both feel and the pride they have is enough for me. I think the clue is in the semantics – it’s a ‘chore’ if it becomes an expectation and, at their age, I’m happy for them to use what downtime they have to play and explore (and bicker and make mess!).
Claire Griffin: My kids load the dishwasher and unload it, unpack the shopping, make beds, hoover the house at the weekend, polish and dust. They are very well trained! They pack their school bags and bring Mummy and Daddy tea in bed on a Sat morning! They started when they were 7 and 8 years old and are sometimes given pocket money as an incentive. They are sometimes willing, but not always. We are seeing an attitude change; they have very tidy rooms now and clean school shoes – more often than not. We really want them to learn to work as part of the family and help out at all times and do the same when they are in other people’s houses.
Clare Ashman: We have ebbs and flows! From an early age we have always encouraged tidy up time, particularly at the end of the day, with a room tidy before bed. In light of my imminent arrival, I have recently introduced a 10-minute a day rule. If everyone in the family does 10 minutes tidy up towards the end of the day (clearly I do more!), then we have a happier and more orderly house. I think I am in the minority but I am not an advocate of paying pocket money for home chores. It’s important to work as a team within the family and have a sense of ownership and respect for possessions. I don’t get paid to pick the 75th loom band of the day off the floor, so not sure why the culprits should be paid. I am all for my children having freedom, a childhood and being allowed to build yet another den from of their freshly made bed linen. However, they know that, after the fun, they have to help a little.
Mel Skjott: My daughter (6) helps at home but she needs prompting. She doesn’t officially have jobs but she loves watering the plants, and does help cleaning up after the dog. She started around 5 and was not incentivized by pocket money until she turned 6. We feel it’s good for her to participate in family responsibilities, and she sees that things can speed up when she helps.
Sarah Hall: My kids don’t help as much as they should. Ralph (5) puts the used milk bottles out, Sophie (2) feeds the fish, and Alice (6) is my general helper in all things. They all put their dirty clothes by the washing machine. I give them Pom Poms or stars and they save those up to get a treat. On a good day, they do it willingly, but they need gentle reminders. I expect them to help and I’ve started to put things in place to make it easier, like coat hooks that they can reach.
Mel Moss: Cash (6) loves nothing more than to be given a task though it’s only really in the last year or so that it has become a help, rather than a hindrance. It makes him feel very grown up and more able to boss his little brother around. Carter (4) is not interested in either of these things, so it’s very much Cash’s thing, and he likes that. He insists on doing the hoovering. That’s his ‘job’. And then I do it again when he’s at school! He also helps his Dad with the gardening – cutting down brambles and building bonfires. Cash gets 20p for doing the hoovering, sometimes more depending on how many rooms he does.
Apart from them tidying away their Lego and clearing their plates, they’re both very good at that but they’re not jobs, just things they know they have to do! As long as they know everyone has to muck in, I don’t think it needs to be forced.
Chloe D’Cruze; Our son (4) helps at home and really wants to, washing, cooking and tidying up. He doesn’t have set jobs but he generally helps out. He started at around 4, not for money, he’s just willing. He does the hoovering, not well, but he gets involved. I want him to know how to look after himself and his family when he gets older, as it is a dual world now with working parents!
Justine Wall: My son (6) has been doing chores for a month now. Makes his bed: 20p. Washes up: 20p. Unpack the dishwasher, feed cats, all that jazz: the same. However, he has also taken to making us toast in bed “to be generous and kind”. He then quietly asks if, in fact, this is a chore and deserves money. To which we gently explain that it isn’t, but it was the loveliest thing to do. He has carried on making us toast though. I think he sees how thrilled we are about it. It’s great to instill responsibility early. He now appreciates what I do.
Lucy Keeping: I think chores are a good idea and we should start them young. I remember my Nan looking after me and I wasn’t allowed to sit there and watch TV or do an activity book when she was cleaning. She handed me a duster and I got to the skirting boards. I was in charge of hanging up the socks from the washing machine and sticking my head in to ‘ask the machine if there were any remaining garments left’. I’m about to have a baby and I will be inflicting the same chores on my child as soon as I can. When starting school, bed making, and polishing is what seems appropriate. Doing it together is key, as it doesn’t become a chore but an exercise during which you can also bond – talk about anything that is on your minds. I would introduce money from 8, depending on how good the outcome was. No money for stropping about it.
What about you? Do you agree or disagree with the views above? What do you expect your kids to do around the house?