We don’t do this any more. It worked well for us for that point of our lives, but not really any more. However, we thought we’d share it since it may be helpful to couples with new babies.
When Emma was born, Amie was working on her Master’s degree, which entailed doing some unpaid stuff that was done a lot in the evening. So this led to us to both being exhausted and having to adjust to doing chores with a baby around by ourselves. When the baby’s napping, you just wanted to take that time to relax yourself. But that didn’t get the dishes clean or other things. So what we did is setup a reward system to motivate us to do chores.
The first step was to create a list of chores and how many points they were. We’d take into consideration the degree of difficulty, amount of effort, and disgusting factor (remember, we had a baby). So some chores may just be one or two points, while others may be 6 points (we even had a few half point chores). For example, shovelling snow after a heavy snowfall took a good 45 minutes and it was hard, physical labor. True, Amie never got that chore. Of course, I couldn’t do that chore on a whim. I can’t remember all of the chores, but it will vary for every household. We had a chart on the fridge and used tally marks to keep track. Today, we’d probably have an app for that.
Then we made up the reward part. We had a list of rewards and their associated points. Some rewards were being able to buy something, others were to be able to go and do something. What we realized later is that all of the rewards were a combination of time and money. It makes no difference to Amie if I leave for the evening to go to a movie or decide to grab dinner and the mall food court and hang out in the bookstore for a while. Each of those activities comes down to being gone for 2 hours and spending $10 or so. So we revamped the reward system to just have two rewards of time and money. The nice thing about this is that for different situations, you can tweak the amounts a bit. If you have plenty of income, maybe being able to earn money becomes super simple. If you both have really busy schedules, then earning time might be more difficult (remember, when you take time, you’re putting a burden on the other person). Also, make sure that your budget will be able to handle the reward system adequately. Don’t set up a system where each of you can be spending $500 a month each if you can’t afford that.
As I said at the beginning, we didn’t use this forever. Once our schedules settled down a bit, we ended up abandoning this. However, when we did use it, it was a great motivator to get things done if you were tired. You didn’t feel resentful if the other person wasn’t doing their “fair share” because that just gave you more opportunity to earn points.
Has anyone else tried something like this?