Do you pay your teen to do housework?

I’ve written before about children doing chores around the house, but the subject has taken on a whole new light recently.

As the mother of an increasingly independent 13-year-old, I’ve found my hand delving into my pocket at a mind-boggling rate so she can have some money when she goes out to meet friends.

It’s a couple of quid here and there, not huge amounts, but it started to add up.

Do you pay your teen to clean the house?

So when there was an expectation that I’d just fork out every time she wanted to go out to the park with her mates and then pop to the shop for a drink and a packet of crisps, I put on the brakes.

(This coincided with a request for an £87 squad leotard and a £75 tracksuit for gymnastics.)

The deal was this: if you want money, you will have to earn it.

The resistance was huge, of course.

How could she get a job at 13, she opined. The likelihood of her being able to earn a few quid sweeping the floor at a hairdressing salon for a couple of hours a week was scant. A paper round was pretty much out of the question (and I’d end up doing it, no doubt).

The simplest solution – and the best one for me – is for her to earn pocket money by helping us out with household chores. Vacuum the carpets, cleaning the kitchen or bathroom – all this takes time and it’s something I’d appreciate hugely.

Some of my friends already do this: one pays her daughter to do the ironing; another pays if she cleans or tidies the house. Another has a paper round, while one earns his pin money by helping out his Sensei to teach little ones karate. None pays their teens to tidy their own bedrooms; the expectation is that they should do this anyway (hah!).

It’s all about appreciating the value of money; being responsible and sharing the burden.

Next step is to agree a list of payment for chores. We may need Acas to step in …

Do you pay your teen to help around the house? Or did they get a job at 13 (subject to the restrictions for that age group, of course)?


13 thoughts on “Do you pay your teen to do housework?

  1. Lisa

    Hi Jayne,

    My 8 and 6 year olds earn through housework – I use beads and each bead is worth 10p. For a tidy bedroom they earn one bead, for a messy one they lose a bead. They can earn extra through washing up, vacuuming, washing their bikes and other age-appropriate tasks. Equally, they are taken away for bad behaviour.

    I have never wanted to just hand my kids money or spoil them with expensive gifts but believe if they work hard then they should reap the rewards.

    Yes, it teaches the value of money and being responsible but also, as a single parent, it makes my children feel part of the day to day business of running a home.

    It also means when we walk into a toy shop I don’t get endless “Mummy, can I have this, that and the other” whines from them as I simply answer “If you work hard enough and save your money then of course you can buy what you like”.


  2. Bill T

    Have had two bashes at being a parent now…”kids” 30 & 26…This is a hot tuber…

    At end of 3rd Yr (9?) both were told, here’s your pocket money, keep your room tidy, never visited again, want any more go & earn it. Both liked it, lad now lawyer, did nowt, lass now a good sales job worked like mad from 14 – end of Uni. At the end of Uni her income, what we gave her, loan, wages…£12k pa equiv.

    It’s tough one…both have thanked for being made to see value of money/budgeting at 14yo…

    Ironic footnote: Girl at abt 23 came back home, after a month I (without Home Sec support) asked for rent. How much, she asked. £150 pcm. Fine…she got room, Sky, heated, lit, fed, laundered, housekept taxied for that…gave it her all back when she bght…but it’s a principle…

    Good Luck!

  3. Kate Goodall

    My Mom used to do the same with me and my brother, and from before we were teenagers too. She used to hold a mini-sale of goodies for pressies before Christmas for the Aunties and Uncles etc (at knock down prices) that we could buy with our hard earned cash. I know I felt proud and excited at the giving of presents because I’d really bought them myself.

    Mind you, I’ll never forget the frustration of trying to clean the french doors with windolene aged about 10. It’s no wonder I’m such a sloth about housework these days.

    I used to do jobs for the neighbours too. Ross had me tarring and chipping his flat roof when I was about 12. I was thrilled to bits to be given £3!

    1. Jayne Post author

      Thanks for commenting, Kate.

      I’ve no doubt when her brother sees her getting paid for chores, he’ll want to do some anyway (except this morning, he offered to pay his sister £2.50 to tidy his room. hehe)

  4. Nick

    What’s the going rate for a 13-year-old? I am … very interested. Can’t get mine to do anything when they stay normally, but when I offered a quid to vac and clean their mess inside the car, they both jumped at it.

    1. Jayne Post author

      The going rate? Not sure at the moment, Nick! It’s being negotiated. She vacuumed, tidied and dusted the lounge and dining room for £4. It took her well over an hour (she even took off the cushions on the sofa and chairs and vacummed underneath). I wonder if I was too generous, though 😉

  5. Jayne Post author

    Thanks for commenting, Lisa. I love the idea of the beads – what a great way for young children to see how they are earning!

  6. Sas

    We don’t pay our kids to do chores and they don’t get pocket money. (I feel left out now!)

    I see where you’re coming from on the link between working and earning, but it grates with me that they should be paid to do chores. To help their family. Surely they should WANT to do this? OK I exaggerate – no-one wants to do chores! 😉 But they should at least feel that they should make this contribution to the family, they shouldn’t require payment?

    Our children are given money when they need it, but by no means every time they ask for it! And if they haven’t been helping around the house, they won’t be getting it either!

    1. Jayne Post author

      It is a tricky, one, Sas.

      We don’t give the children pocket money, either, although their nan gives them money and they are expected to save half of it, but I’m happy to reward work that is “above and beyond” what I’d expect them to do.

      I wouldn’t pay them to tidy their bedrooms and if they started asking for money to lay out the knives and forks on the dinner table, they’d get short shrift!

      Until such time as they can get a part-time/Saturday job, it seems like a good solution. I’ve no doubt the parameters will keep changing and that there will re-negotiations 😉

  7. Chris Seympour-Smith

    We found a perfect solution that really worked: We offered 2 things

    1) we gave a fixed minimum sum per week of pocket money of £10. That required some basic jobs to be done on a daily basis. But all meembers of the family did something each day so it looked fair.

    Some basic rules were added like

    … whoever cooks doesn’t wash up so there was some debate around what was fair for everyone

    … if someone’s doing exams or under stress, the rest of the family would cover them. So there was flexibility to avoid sticking points.

    … No Jobs, No Pocket Money. Short rules work well with teenagers. We repeated it like a mantra and it avoided lots of confrontation and long heated arguments (which we were very tired of).

    2) We cut out the regular event of being hassled for new clothes everytime we went shopping by paying a clothes allowance on top of pocket money. This was a straight £50 a month but covered everything including winter coats and shoes.

    This immediately stopped major fallout points like when you buy a daughter a top, they then start campaigning for matching trousers or shoes etc.
    What happened was the daughters started making decisions like: 3 cheap fashion tops or 1 expensive top that lasts. Theybstarted looking at fabric labels as they wanted to avoid dry clean only so they stated to learn about fabrics and wash cycles etc.

    Alll the hassle stopped. If there was an essential item for school, we just bought it otherwise the clothing allowance woudn’t have cvered a whole year’s clothes.

    They learned a lot. And once they blew their money, there was no campaigning for ‘just one more item’. And we saved a shedload of money 🙂


  8. Chris Seympour-Smith

    PS We didnt see it that they were paid to do chores. We wanted them to have some spending money. We thought they should learn that parents aren’t there to pick up their stuff off the bedroom floor and that a family should all contribute according to age and ability. Like a gradual move toward a shared house when they are grown up.

  9. lisa

    Teen’s and chores,
    hmm, when it was just i and my kid(s) it didn’t get dirty-nothing was a major ordeal nor needed done as a paying objective to good habit’s.
    when with others(4-6)in a household it’s a major power play – a major ordeal.if it is cleaning up after them selves or pitching in that is pitching in- if its something i should be doing not the teen- would offer or exchange for a pick of your choice of what he or she would like to have or do,like a movie nite or a sleep over or $5-$10 depending on the chore in detail of cleaning-or for that extra curricular activity he or she wants to do a even exchange of effort with a curve


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