Household and other tasks of daily living.
Every household has a certain amount of chores that need to get done. Some are more or less daily tasks, like cooking and washing dishes, some are big seasonal jobs, such as shoveling snow or cleaning gutters, others, like dusting or mopping, may only get done depending on how much time you have and how clean you like it. A family may not have an explicit system for assigning chores, but there may be an unspoken agreement or custom. Recent research has shown that women still do the majority of housework in America, even in families where both partners work full time. And resentment over perceived unfairness in the division of housework and child care is a frequent cause of tension in marriages. If children are expected to share in housework, parents may want to come up with a fair and consistent policy of assignment that suits everyone. Not every family will agree that children should share in chores, however. If the children are too young, they may be more hindrance than help. Some parents may feel that schoolwork is the child's job, and housework is for adults. But many families see chores as family work to which each member should contribute. They also believe that assigning chores builds a child's sense of responsibility and teaches a child necessary skills for independent living. How many and what kind of chores a child performs varies with the child's age and ability.
It is important that chores seem to be given out fairly. While young children are often pleased to be given a job, older ones may resent it. One system is to have each family member agree to do certain chores daily, weekly, or at another appropriate interval. Each person's chores are written under his or her name on a chart, and the parent or child can check off the chores as they are completed. The chart makes it clear that every person has work they need to do.
The rotating job wheel is another common approach to assigning chores. In this system, chores are written on the edge of a circle. On an inner circle are the names of family members, divided up like sections of a pie graph. The inner wheel can be turned every week or month, so that every person has a new batch of chores. This is a good way to handle unpopular chores. If chores are few, it may not be necessary to write them down on a chart or rotating wheel. However, it may still be valuable to have a family discussion about chores to help make sure that housework is divided fairly.
Some parents tie their children's allowance to completion of chores. The allowance then becomes a paycheck for housework done: if children don't do their chores, they don't get paid. This raises several important issues. If children are not overly motivated by money, they may elect not to do their chores. In such a case, the chore becomes not a family contribution but a monetary transaction. Parents must also determine a fair rate of pay for each chore; harder tasks should pay more than simpler ones. In addition, parents should consider whether they will pay the same rate for a job well done as for one done sloppily or wrong.
Both chores and allowances are frequent areas of tension between parents and children, as children test limits and rebel against parental authority. Some parents use a compromise system of chores and allowance, which gives both parties some flexibility. The parents pay a base allowance that is not tied to completion of chores. On top of this, the child is paid for performing certain extra chores. Even the best thought-out system will have unexpected glitches and complications. Parents should expect to revise the chore list as children mature or as expectations change. Making chore assignments explicit through family discussion can ease tension and resentment.