Adults Choose Their Work, and So Should Kids!

This is a follow-up post to The Box That Cleans My House – collecting kids’ items left lying around into a box, and having them do a chore to “buy” back their stuff. As I’ve read the comments on Facebook, I realized there was more to say on the topic….

A few months ago, I read this post about “paying” your children to do extra chores around the house, pointing out that adults choose to work for money, so why shouldn’t kids? Ben and I talked about the idea, but felt it didn’t fit with what we choose to do in our family – our kids get an allowance because they’re part of our family, and we work together because we’re a team.

However, I loved the idea of allowing kids to choose what work they want to do. There are days when I am suddenly motivated to do something in particular, which on any other day might have felt like too much work. I like to go with what motivates me. Also, Ben got to choose his job. He has to work, but nobody is forcing him to do the job he does.

So I sat down and made a list of every job I could possibly think of that the girls could do, and put the list on the fridge. We’re trying to have them do any two each day, but if they’re buying back items from the box, they do extra. These are in addition to the regular chores they have to do every day – make beds, clean up their bedroom, polish the bathroom, empty the dishwasher, sweep the kitchen/dining room floor, and set and clear the table.


I wanted to find easy, manageable jobs for them to accomplish quickly, because this isn’t supposed to feel like a punishment – I try to talk a lot about learning to enjoy work, or at least enjoy the feeling of accomplishment when it’s done.;)

Here’s the list:

  • Wash bathroom, entrance, or kitchen floor
  • Sweep bedrooms
  • Fold towels
  • Wipe bathroom cabinets
  • Dust baseboards
  • Dust piano
  • Dust bookshelves
  • Wash a window (inside)
  • Organize the Tupperware drawer
  • Organize shoes in the closet
  • Empty garbage
  • Collect garbage/random objects from inside the SUV
  • Water the garden


Sometimes I let them help in the kitchen or take care of Everett as a “chore” – depends on what needs doing each day.

What has been most interesting to me is seeing which jobs the girls choose. Kaylia chooses anything in the kitchen, or organizing things, and a shiny piano is her new pride and joy. Anika loves washing floors or sweeping.

Judging by that list, one would think my house is spotless all the time, but it’s not – things get busy, and I don’t always have the time or energy to make sure the girls are doing two extra chores every single day. But it’s a process – I loved this post: Why Teaching Your Kids to Do Chores is Like Paying Your Mortgage. We’re thinking long term here – long term benefits for me and for them. I like to think about what kind of adults they will grow up to be if I can train them well!

So that’s the list of chore choices at the moment, but I’d love to hear your suggestions! Can you think of any quick chores I can add to the list?

3 thoughts on “Adults Choose Their Work, and So Should Kids!

  1. Other extra chores we have are: clean outside of kitchen appliances (we have stainless steel and oh the finger prints!), wipe outside of kitchen cabinets, water my flowers and tomatoes, wash dirty areas of their bedroom walls . Our daily chores are: clean bathroom, vacuum kitchen and living room, tidy bedrooms, empty and fill dishwasher. Thanks for your post about working to earn items from the box. I had just collected two boxes of stuff from my girls and didn’t know what to do with it. Funny how nothing in the box really interested my 4 year old, to bother to earn back. 🙂

  2. We have our four year old collecting the trash can from the curb back to next to the garage.
    Others chores to consider…
    – collecting everyone’s clothes for your laundry day
    – prep veggies for supper ( cleaning, cutting etc.)
    – Setting and clearing the table for meals
    – Folding laundry
    – Delivering all the clean clothes baskets to each family member so that it is in the appropriate room.
    That is all I can think of at the moment.

    I always enjoy reading your blog… keep it up my friend, you’re an encourager, that’s for sure!

  3. Kendra, thank you so much for highlighting my article in this one! I’m glad you were able to find inspiration to create your own system and it sounds like it is going wonderful! 😉 Take care and thank you so much again for reading!!

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