In our family, as soon as you can walk, you start doing chores. We started with very easy jobs, like bringing toys to Mummy, helping fold facecloths, and letting them sweep with the little toy broom while I was sweeping with the big broom. Toddlers LOVE to copy Mummy. As they get older, more age appropriate chores are added. By 2 1/2, by kids were washing their (pre-rinsed) plastic dishes and non-sharp cutlery. They could put their toys away, throw things in the garbage, and "help" Mummy push the vacuum cleaner. By 4 yrs old, they were starting to wash the proceline plates, set the table and peel carrots. Each chore was explained and done under the suppervision of a parent until they had acheived competancy. (Notice I said competancy...nobody expects perfection at this age). Now, at 17, my son mends his own clothes, can do a wash, helps fix the car, indoor housework, outdoor yard work, minor household repairs and is learning to cook. (My daughter is already out on her own and she is a great cook). This imortant thing is that my children have never recieved an allowance for doing these chores. They were expected to do it for a thank you (and a kiss or hug) because they are a part of this family, and thus need to offer willing hands to share in the work load. The benefits of working together as a family are awesome. When we work together, we spend less time on chores and have more free time to do things as a family. No one person is burnt out and my children learn to respect both items, and the work that others do in this world.
As the children grew older, I would often give a thank-you gift of an item or some cash for an extra hard job that needed doing. If the kids wanted extra spending money, we would brain storm ways of earning it. We've had yard sales, lemonaid stands, hired themselves out to neighbours for mowing lawns and raking, babysitting, etc... For the last few years, my son has found casual jobs working for a plumber, welding shop, construction, making musical instruments, and has just purchased his first car with his savings. He has an amzing work ethic and has actually "worked" himself out of a job a time or two.
Does he always like doing chores? Of course not, but he shared his philosophy with me. "You start out thinking "Oh chores are fun" and then you get older and think, "Oh chores are so boring", but then you get older and realize that they're not that bad and you just learn to do them without complaining."