We are a larger family and while this brings a lot more love and fun into our lives, it also brings a lot more mess! It takes a lot of work to run this house and I can't do it alone. I have taught the kids from very early on, that we are a family...we each have a special place and we work together to make life easier.
I want my kids to have a strong work ethic and a confidence in their life skills. Spoiled, lazy children turn into spoiled, lazy teenagers who wake up one day and have no idea how to be an adult. I am certainly not a slave master over my children. I don't ask more of them than I think they are capable of, and many times they ask to do more chores than I give them.
I keep the littlest ones close to me. My toddlers become my little shadow and follow me throughout my day. When they are out of my sight, they are usually getting into trouble, so until they have earned my trust, they are my little buddy.
I used to get so frustrated. I felt like having a 2 year old in the house meant everything I did would be undone. This still happens a lot, but taking a few moments to teach him how to help me has saved me a lot more work later. My 2 year old helps me unload the dishwasher, pulls the clothes out of the dryer and into the hamper and helps unload the grocery bags.
As they get a little older I start giving them more specific jobs. My 3 year old is our official sock matcher. While I am folding laundry, he sits on the floor with a pile of socks. He finds the matches and hands them to me for folding. To him, it's a game and he is excited to do it. At this age they can pick up after themselves, though I don't expect perfection. I focus more on personal chores, like brushing their teeth and putting their dirty clothes in the hamper.
My 5 and 7 year olds now have a chore chart and receive and allowance. The charts we are using are reusable and customizable. They receive 5 cents for each chore done. If they fill in the whole chart it is about $2.00 for the week. I personally think this is an appropriate amount for their age. If they do extra work they will earn a bonus. Hard work should be rewarded. My 7 year old actually asked if he could have 2 charts because he was trying to save up for something.
We change the chores every few weeks just to mix it up a bit. The basic chores on their charts are: Parent Helper, Set Table, Clean Bedroom, Pet Care, Laundry (mostly putting away clean clothes), Dishes (clearing their plates from the table and putting them in the dishwasher or sink), Empty Garbage, Babysit (usually playing with the baby while I make dinner), and Be Happy (having a good attitude in schoolwork, being kind to each other and joyful obedience).
I knew giving them an allowance would be motivation, but it has also reinforced math skills and taught them how to handle money.
I'm sure as the kids grow things will change, but for now, this is what works for us.