"Our house was pretty cluttered. Children's toys and clothes lay in piles that seemed to grow taller every day. And I was getting discouraged. The problem became even worse when I began working part-time. Now I had half the time to clean up a full-time mess.
One day my friend Gloria and I were discussing my dilemma. She explained how her family had solved a similar problem. Every week Gloria would pay each of her children an allowance. But instead of simply handing the money over, she provided a way for the children to work for it. She made a chart listing various chores, the consequences the children would face for chores left undone, and the amount of money that would be deducted from the weeks allowance. At the end of the week, each child would receive the allowance minus any deductions.
The idea sounded intriguing, so I decided to try it.
The next Monday I found three tins - one for each of my children - and plunked two dollars in change into each one. Then I made an allowance chart listing such things as bedroom straightened, toys put away, and bed made. If they didn't put their toys away, I explained to the children, I would deduct five cents for each toy left out.
The next day I came home to a sparkling clean house. The day after, a few items lay scattered on the floor and on the kitchen table, so a little bit of money was taken out of the appropriate tins.
"You took ten cents!" my oldest daughter exclaimed after counting the money left in her tin. "What did I forget to do?"
"Your socks and pajamas were left lying around," I explained.
The next day her room was spotless.
We've continued the project for some time now. The children are learning responsibility and are helping me keep the house clean. I'm thrilled when one or more of my daughters receive the whole allowance at the end of the week. And best of all, our home is a more cheerful place to be.
-by Kathryn Jones, Salt Lake City, Utah