a father and his son cleaning the dishes

Mar 11, 2021

A parent’s guide to chores and allowances

Julie Lythcott-Haims, author of How to Raise an Adult, gave an interesting TED Talk about setting the right priorities for kids. Here’s a key takeaway: “Professional success in life comes from having done chores as a kid.” 

We think chores are important too, which is why we love that families are using their Greenlight apps to tidy the house, make the bed, walk the pup and more. Haven’t tried yet? We’ll walk you through it.

“Ever since I signed up for Greenlight, my kids actually volunteer to do more chores.” — Monica, Greenlight parent

When is the right time to start chores?

All families are different, which means their chore routines are different too. A chore routine can start as early as “getting clothes to the laundry basket” in preschool years. It can also be a list of errands for your teen driver to run. 

So, the right time depends on your family. Spring weather brings opportunities for conversations around outdoor chores, just like back-to-school season is a great time to hit the reset button and start new routines. Or, maybe you’re simply tired of looking at a messy living room — enlist your kids for help.

Which chores do I choose?

For our Greenlight families, the five most popular chores are:

top 5 chores list

Although these are the top 5, Greenlight families aren’t afraid to get creative with their chores (you can customize them in your app!). We’ve seen everything from “Help recycle” to “Clean the cat hallway” to “Work on your attitude.”

Do I pay my kids for chores?

The short answer? It’s up to you. We’ll give you a couple schools of thought. A recent T. Rowe Price survey on parents, kids and money saw that 51% of parents give their kids allowance if they’ve put in the work to earn it. 

Ron Lieber, author of The Opposite of Spoiled, has a different take. He says, “Allowance ought to stand on its own, not as a wage but as a teaching tool.” 

Not sure where you stand? Here are a few different paths you can take. 

  • If you want to start paying your kids but you’re hesitant, try this. Start up a chore schedule with routine tasks that are unpaid (like cleaning up bedrooms, doing laundry or walking the dog). Then, gradually add on paid tasks that require more time and work — it’ll show them how far hard work goes. 

  • Have a talk about allowance — let them practice their negotiation skills! Decide as a family what works best for you. Then, pay them for their hard work.

  • Consider giving them an automated allowance. It’s like a “pay day” — if they know they’re paid every other Friday, they’ll budget accordingly. Just like the real world! 

  • Give your kids one-off chores if you’re not ready to set up a chore schedule. They can help around the house as needed — and you can pay them if you’d like to.

How do we set up a schedule?

Scheduling and automating your chore schedule makes it easier for you AND your kids. With your Greenlight app, you can…

  • Set chores that repeat once a week — or several times a week.

  • Set one-time chores for bigger tasks like spring cleaning, babysitting or mowing the lawn.

  • Keep track of ongoing chores and stick allowance on autopilot (if you choose to pay them).

  • Give your kids full visibility of the chores they need to do. Make sure they download the Greenlight app to check off their chores as they finish them.

chores checklist in Greenlight app

Stick to it

They’re doing the hard part, so we’ll make the rest easy for you. Use your Greenlight app to set up chores, tie them to an allowance (if you want!) and stay in the loop to make sure your kids are keeping up with their household duties.

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