“The Work Bank,” Ensign, June 1984, 66
It was as sure a sign of summer’s arrival as the the lilacs blooming in the yard—our children complaining and procrastinating their chores. During the winter months they routinely accepted daily work before and after school hours, but seemed to feel that the summer vacation was one long playtime. Because we were getting discouraged about the disharmony in our home, we came up with a plan that works for us: the Work Bank.
The plan is similar to saving money in the bank, but involves time instead of money. This is how our plan worked.
I made a chart for each of our four children which listed the days of the week across the top and the individual chores to be done down the side. The chores included weeding, irrigating, cutting lawns, and picking peas, berries, and beans. Each child was assigned to work from one to two hours daily depending on his age. Their hours had to be completed before they could play.
As the children completed assigned time, they marked it off on the chart next to the chores completed. If they worked extra hours, they recorded them at the bottom of the chart for that day. These extra hours were accumulated weekly.
If the children wanted to take time off during the week for activities with their friends, they could use the extra hours they had accumulated during the week to “buy” time for other activities. For example, if our older children had two hours in the Work Bank (had previously worked two hours beyond the expected time), they could take one day off for a special activity.
We presented our plan after a family home evening lesson on the value of work. Our children weren’t exactly enthusiastic, perhaps even a little skeptical, but they agreed to give it a try.
The first week was really “Grumble Week.” I wondered how well the plan would work when I overheard one of our sons say, “If it weren’t for Adam and Eve, we wouldn’t have to be doing all this hard work!”
Enforcing the plan was not always easy. Sometimes it took a firm reminder that they had no earned credits when they begged to be released from work assignments in order to go with their friends.
Gradually, though, they accepted the idea and became excited about competing for the most credits in their Work Bank so they could take time off when their friends called. They became so involved in the program, that when a member of our ward broke a leg, they volunteered to earn Work Bank hours in his garden.
We found that as soon as our younger children had an hour in their Work Bank, they used it for an activity. But the two older children saved and accumulated their hours. At the end of the summer, one boy had sixteen hours in his Work Bank. I paid him $1.00 for each extra hour.
Using this system, our children accomplished assigned tasks and helped around the home. They learned responsibility and the value of hard work. Now our summers are signaled not by loud complaints, but by continued willingness to contribute to our home through work. Stephen K. Rich, Liberty, Utah