The Dirty Word – Chores.

I grew up labouring away at my bit when it came to household chores. Having three sisters though made the work load that much lighter. I was never paid so to speak for doing chores, however , if ever we needed or wanted something within reason – we didn’t go without. Movies, ice-skating, drive-in, tuck money and so it goes.

My wonderful young teenager recently dug his heels in when it came to a short list of chores I felt were standard for any teenager all of 14 years old. I contacted a few friends and family who too have a child of the same age to compare what is considered a reasonable list, as well as the reward be it financial or other.

I came up with ten chores a week. TEN. I really didn’t feel that was child labour although my son differs. My list was something along these lines.

  • Clean your own room. Inspection is once a week.
  • Unpack the dishwasher after dinner.
  • Mow the lawn once a week – all of a 15 min job. 
  • Take out the trash when need be.
  • Feed the dogs daily and ensure fresh water mornings.
  • Pick up your own dog poop.
  • During school holidays, to help hang the laundry.
  • Make your own bed weekends.
  • Help dad bath the dogs on sundays.


Oh wait – that is all of 9 chores. One would think this to be child labour for that is what my child seems to think. Banging heads about this list has left me with migraines. I believe all children should be raised having to do chores. Heck I did. Chores teach children far more than responsibility and the value of a dime.

Then we had the debated issue of what was considered a satisfactory financial reward. Boy, the kid should join the debate team as he sure threw some at me. Yet again I turn to family and friends and what would you know – we seem to pay our teen a little above the considered ‘average’. My sister suggested I start a monthly spreadsheet for him. On which I write down every cent spent on his luxuries –

  • A new clutch cable for his off road motorbike,
  • weekly petrol to run both his bikes – this is recreational,
  • bike parts when he crashes, lately that’s often
  • constant new clothes and shoes as he seems to think they are best used while working on his bikes.
  • The maintenance of his tarantulas,
  • mobile contract
  • Blah blah etc –  

This list can go on and on but it hit me – My sister hit the nail on the head with her advice. Sometimes when kids see things on paper, the reality hits them a little more and they can digest it properly. I’m not talking a childs living luxuries or expenses. I’m referring to his hobbies. 

There you have it. I sat down with my son and asked him what he felt was acceptable and reasonable to be on his chores list. We negotiated the list so not all was selective. What teen is readily going to volunteer a pick up his dog poop before mowing the lawn? Having his participation gave him a sense of having a voice and choices. He is now responsible for his chores list. As for his rewards, they come in many forms and he is slowly realising this. Thank goodness as being the eldest, he sets the example for his two much younger brothers. 

Keep Calm and Parent on.

So what would you feel is an acceptable list or pocket money amount for a 14 year old teen?




2 thoughts on “The Dirty Word – Chores.

  1. I have a 12 year old who fights me with every single chore… and we don’t ask for much. Her daily chores are to make her bed, clean her side of the bedroom, load or unload the dishwasher, and practice her saxophone. Then, she has a chore that occurs every other day because she shares it with her sister – set the table. Then, there are five weekly chores that are spread out over a week and may or may not be shared with her sister, father, and I, but done once a day. Those chores are to scoop the litter box, clean either the upstairs bathroom or the downstairs bathroom, either sweep the kitchen and dining room floors or vacuum the living room, cook dinner, and do their own laundry (I refuse to wash their clothes). They earn five dollars a week, and I have created a spread sheet to keep track of their chores. The rule is if they have one red mark on any given day, they will lose one dollar from their allowance. They are to pay for their own cell phone services as well, and if they were to get 100% completion of their chores for 3 out of 4 weeks in a month, then my husband and I will pay for that month’s service.

    It seems to work, but we have to battle the evil procrastination demon from our 12 year old in which someone had suggested to send her to bed 10 minutes early for every 10 minutes that she procrastinates.

    • Good to hear I am not alone in this battle. We had a system where my son got his standard pocket money with the potential to up it if he went a little over and above required monthly chores. If after nagging a chore wasn’t done – we deducted R1. If he washed the car, which isn’t a set chore – we rewarded him an extra R20. But as he got older, he seems to dig his heels in. Sadly he comes from that group of kids that think faries visit at night and this mind set that housework is a womans job. No worries as they say – tables turn eventually.My 6 year old is a gem and is always eager to help, his rewards are simple and he thrives on them. My little 1 year old mops and vacuums in his little way, but he gets the idea. The routine, boundaries and rules work if only everyone is a team member. Happy parenting xx

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