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Thursday, February 27, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Family

Mama Bear Moxie: The trials, tribulations of the chore chart

By Kristina Phelan For The Spokesman-Review

There was a long time as a mother where I didn’t have any kind of assigned chores for my kids. Not that my kids didn’t do any kind of work around the house, but I would ask them to help out with whatever I needed. It wasn’t until my sister-in-law asked about their chore charts that I thought about the fact that we didn’t have any.

Since then, I have tried numerous charts for my kids. Some have partly worked and others not at all. Currently, each kid has their own with different chores assigned throughout the week. Our older boys have white boards while our daughter has a magnetic one. However, even though I conveniently placed the boards in our kitchen for all to see, none of them have actually used them in more than a month.

I have tried multiple incentives. There were times when I would pay the kids for completing all of their chores, and times that I didn’t. There were times when I would tape a candy bar above the charts that could be eaten at the end of the week. The candy bar weeks were actually the most effective, but I wanted to be careful about using junk food as a reward.

I’ve asked what other friends do to get their kids to do their chores. Some pay their kids a set amount of money each week while others don’t pay their kids anything. I also have friends who give their kids an allowance each week no matter what.

I know I am old fashioned, but part of me wants to say we do chores because we are a family and everyone has to pitch in to make the house run smoothly. However, I want to teach my kids good money habits and give them money to manage themselves.

There have been times when we would offer extra chores for a certain amount of money. These would include more time consuming jobs and usually were not easy to accomplish. This worked to a point, but then extra chores became the priority. I tried to adjust the rule and say that you could only do an extra paid chore if you got all of your regular chores done, but that didn’t seem to work out very well either.

It seems that nothing has worked as well as I wanted it. Maybe it was the chart itself, or maybe it was me giving up on the system too quickly. I find myself reminding my kids to do their chores so much that just staying on top of the chore chart is more work than it is worth.

I am interested to know what works for your family though. Do you have kids do the same chores each week or are the chores shared? Do they get paid for chores or do you automatically give them money each week? Do little ones earn other items of currency like stickers or later bedtimes?

Kristina Phelan is a former Spokane-area resident now living in Illinois. Visit her website at