In my previous post, I stated that we were going to start paying “allowance”.  (My husband dislikes that term, so we’ve decided to call it “merit” but that really hasn’t caught on.  So I will keep calling it “allowance”.)

I stumbled upon a blog a few weeks ago, called “71 toes” (family of seven, five kids, one was born with an extra toe….now you know the reason for the name).  The article was discussing allowance and how they’ve worked and reworked and reworked an allowance plan for their kids and they finally found the system that works best for them.  They have five kids, and if they can do it, we can do it.  Right?

First I presented this particular plan to Jim and he thought it sounded like it would work for us.  Then I had Trevor read the plan and he also thought it sounded good.  So then we all met as a family to discuss the plan in more detail and came up with a wheel (see her post here).  Our wheel had two spinners…. one disc for “zones” (Family Room, Front Room, Playroom) and the other disc for “chores” (Unload Dishwasher, Load Dishwasher, Clean Dining Table).  The kids worked out a timeline amongst themselves and determined that having that particular job responsibility for 4 days was a good length of time.

So we tested that out for about 8 days (the wheel was used on weekends, too)….and the kids initiated some improvements:

1) dog poop duty was not listed on the wheel and definitely needed to be added.
2) the person who had “unload dishwasher” usually didn’t end up doing it because I did it while they were at school (bad timing).
3) the person who had “load dishwasher” also needed to handwash dishes and clean the kitchen counter- so that was a pretty big job!
4) Brooke is really too young to do the kitchen clean up job.
5) Four days still works good for keeping a job task.

We sat down as a family again and reworked the wheel and the kids still thought the “zones” were good, but decided that loading the dishwasher should really be called “kitchen duty” and it should be done in pairs with two kids working together simultaneously….and Brooke is really too young to provide a lot of help with that.  Brooke volunteered to make unloading the dishwasher her job (forever and ever- her words) and Riley and Trevor will work together to clean the kitchen every night.

We decided to go ahead and implement the checklist system the following Monday, using the wheel for “zones” only and divvying up the kitchen responsibilities as agreed upon. (We still didn’t have “dog poop duty” as a chore, though).

Here’s how week one ended:


So week one ends…. it’s time to hand out the cash!    Trevor received $14.00, Riley received $10.00 and Brooke….. well, she ended up needing to PAY us $5.00.

Before you react with “Oh my gosh they made the youngest kid pay a FEE?”…. well, I was originally opposed to the idea, too.  Then I was swayed.  But, once I realized that Brooke would have to pay, I swayed back to my original position of “no penalties”.  But again, after discussing it with Jim and thinking about it some more, I knew imposing penalties was the right thing to do.

Why?  Because of my original allowance post- that chores are chores are chores and must be done because the parent says so.  They are part of contributing to the family.  The problem with allowance is that when you start paying for chores, the kids assume chores are an “option” and if the kid decides they don’t want or need the money, they won’t do the chore.  That’s not an option.  Giving up is not an option.  Being lazy is not an option.

It definitely had an impact on Trevor and Riley to see their sister having to pay a fee- they could see that we were serious about it!  WOW.  Brooke didn’t care, though, because she really isn’t interested in the value of money.  I’m not sure this plan will actually work for her, but Trevor and Riley are trying to motivate her to keep on track.  (Don’t tell the kids, but that $5.00 is just going to go into their savings account where they can’t touch it until college, we aren’t keeping it for ourselves!)

Our plan works like this:

Get all checkmarks and get $1.00 per year of age.
Miss 1 checkmark and get $0.50 per year of age.
Miss 2 checkmarks and get $0.25 per year of age.
Miss 3 checkmarks and get NOTHING.
Miss 4 or more checkmarks and you pay $5.00.

The kids are allowed to make up ONE checkmark by memorizing a poem and reciting it to the family (71toes idea, not ours).  Our kids are also required to set aside 30% to their Savings Account (not to be touched by them- funds are for college).

We sat at the table again and discussed ways to improve the plan.  The one issue that we’ve identified so far is that Brooke can’t really do any “chores” or “zones” on Mondays because she’s out the door at 5:00 and not home again until 8:45pm.  Tuesdays, Riley has guitar, so she doesn’t need to do the ‘Practice’ element, and since she’s home by 6:30 that still allows time for the rest of her to-do’s.  The girls get a “bye” for those days.

And we still need to incorporate dog poop.  And maybe a couple other tasks as needed.

So we reinvented the wheel like this:


The kids balked.  “What if I end up with the Playroom zone (the biggest job) and I also have to clean the kitchen every night, and now I have to clean the dining room table and floor, too?  For the whole week?”   and “If I have dog-poop duty but I’m not home until dark, do I have to clean it up in the dark or do I not get a mark for that day?”

Good points.

The wheel went out the window.  (Actually it went into recycling after the star-brad was removed)

This is what we came up with for our second week:


Dog Poop Duty has to be done during daylight hours- and not necessarily every day (although that would be nice) so I assigned that job to Brooke on Mondays and Wednesdays.  The rest of the week her only assignment is her “zone” and unloading the dishwasher.  Age appropriate stuff.

Kitchen clean up is a daily responsibility for the older two.  Riley also has to keep the chairs and booster seats clean every day after daycare, and Trevor has to clean the dining table after daycare.  Our family needs a fresh place to sit and eat dinner without worrying about food mess at our spots!  I added two days during the week to have the kitchen/dining floors swept and mopped by the kids (instead of by me).

Stay tuned to see how this week works out!

(Here’s the blog post that inspired us: