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Turning “Have-To’s” Into “Want-To’s” – Getting My Kids To Do Chores

I’ve recently been pondering how I can help my oldest daughter have the desire to do the things that she has to learn to do. From her perspective, I get it. I mean, there is always something that she “has to do.” Be it, learning to make her bed, brush her teeth, tie her shoes, use a fork, and so on and these don’t even take into consideration the load she carries at school. So, needless to say, I can imagine she gets really tired and frustrated when we say, “You have to learn these things,” or “You have to do this.” I mean, I would!

A little over a week ago, while out for a run, I had taken a day to really slow down. I had been working on my speed, trying to do more and push harder because I just felt like I “needed to.” It hit me on that particular run that I enjoy running when I slow down. I enjoy it a lot. But, I don’t enjoy hearing the voice inside my head that tells me I have to push harder, do more, be faster. Shut up! After all, that voice pretty much shuts me down immediately, and you can bet you’ll get nothing from me.

So, I get it. I get her. I get the frustration. This always turns me to ask another question, “How can I help her?”

As I thought about this, I pondered my own self and asked, “Why do I run.” The truth is I don’t love running. I don’t love exercising. But, I do it because I want to be the best that I can be and it’s part of my life plan – the plan I created to say that I would do this as a way to keep not only my body healthy, but my mind healthy as well. It’s another form of therapy for me. But, if I’m honest, I don’t always want to go for a run. I usually need a little more motivation. Motivation like, it’s February and I’m gonna have to be able to fit into a swim suit here soon. Or the motivation of a the half marathon approaching, the beach trip on the horizon or my  upcoming 15th wedding anniversary.  Needless to say I need reason to want to run and exercise and get fit. Knowing that I need it to get through this life isn’t always enough motivation. Seeing this in myself, made me realize this is what I need to do for her. I need to come up with a solution that turns all the “have-to’s” into “want-to’s.”

And so, I’m on a mission.

My mission has me starting with the tried and true (for some) monetary system. Not sure this will work for them, but it’s where I’m starting.

So this past weekend, I asked my girls to do a few chores that I was pretty certain they could do. Yes, I had to do a bit of instructing here and there, but for the most part they were able to do that which was requested of them. My oldest was given a mere 2 jobs (and she complained the whole time.) See my struggle? 🙂 My youngest – bless that child – was asked to unload the dishwasher and clean the downstairs bathroom (which included the toilet, sink, mirror, sweeping of the floor and emptying of the trash can). She did all of these without any complaining.

Once finished, it was time to pay out. They received money for both their work and their attitudes toward doing the job requested. Wanting them to both be present while the other was paid out, I had them come to me – together – and I verbally paid out based on what chores they did. This was done to show them both that more work means more pay and that a good attitude is rewarded as well.

I started with my oldest and gave her 2 quarters, explaining they were for the two rugs she had swept (sorry folks, I didn’t have it in me that day to have her do anymore). The other I gave a quarter to for unloading the dishes, washing the sink/mirror in the bathroom, sweeping the floor, scrubbing the toilet, and emptying the trashcan. And then, she received a bonus…one extra quarter for her good attitude toward doing the work requested. Needless to say, she walked away exclaiming, “Wow, I got $1.50,” (so glad that she was happy with the pay :). The other one, irritated that she received less, scuffed away saying, “Whatever,” as though it didn’t bother her that little sis had made more. But, this mom knows it did bother her and that is why she reacted the way she did. I explained to her that she, too, can earn extra quarters by her willingness to do more without complaining and by working hard at what she jobs she is given. I’m sure once the American Girl store opens this spring, her want to earn more money change quickly.

I guess time will tell.

What about in your family? Do your kids do chores? How do you encourage them to complete the tasks requested of them? Do they complete them or is it a battle? Curious to hear what others do to encourage their kiddos to help out around the house.

Til next time,


Dorothy HartFebruary 11, 2015 - 1:56 pm


I enjoy so much reading your blogs. It’s hard to believe you’re the same person as the tiny little girl I sometimes held on my lap.

I’m not sure if you know my daughter Becky’s daughter has problems even more severe than your Isabella’s. She’s 21 now, going to IUPUI on a special program–mostly learning how to be more independent. She will never be truly independent, but she is growing and learning. Would that they had had a similar program in her elementary/high school years.

I pray that you will continue trusting God to guide you in your life and your motherhood. And…your artwork should be on greeting cards.

Sincerely, Dorothy

Katherine OrtizFebruary 11, 2015 - 2:43 pm

Dear Rana,
Thank you so much for sharing this. I am going to incorporate this with my 6 year old as because it is just him and I, I don’t really have him doing any chores other than cleaning his room. I truly appreciate other moms who help us single moms because I didn’t have any good mothering growing up so I know very little about being a mom, let alone being a single “good” mom. My focus for 2015 is to be a better mom and by that I mean “being” simply being there for my lil guy, listening to him, putting the stupid phone down and just enjoying his presence in my life. I am truly realizing what a blessing he is to me even though carrying this load alone is tough at times, I get tired beyond exhaustion and literally escape to my bathroom for a moment of peace but it all does pay good in the end with a simple “I have the best mommy in the whole wide world,” not that it is true but at least to him I am.

Love ya girl,
Kathy Ortiz

rmcintyreFebruary 14, 2015 - 12:04 pm

Hi Kathy,
Thanks so much for your comment. Your response is the exact reason why I have this blog. I know that I could never do the job of being a mom on my own. I’ve needed other moms all along my journey and still do to this day. I hope that along the way we’ll all be able to learn from each other. I’m so glad that this was helpful to you. Send me an update someday on how it’s going. We’re still working on it here too. 🙂
Many hugs to you momma and you’re doing great! Keep it up.

rmcintyreFebruary 14, 2015 - 12:08 pm

Hi Dorothy,
Thanks so much for commenting. I think I knew that Becky’s daughter also had some special needs. I think it’s great that she has those classes where she can learn. We were just told about a similar school in our area – we might have to check it out and see where it could be of assistance. Trusting is hard and a journey in and of itself. It is a “one-day-at-a-time” and “moment to moment” way of living, but I am trying. He’s taught me so much about Him through my parenting, and know that He will continue to reveal so much more. Relying on Him every step of the way!
Thanks Dorothy!

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