Our current chore system has been in use for about two years now, in various adapted and improved forms, and it is going exceptionally well. By that, I mean the kids do their work reliably, with minimal
nagging reminders on my part, and they actually find the system helpful and motivating. This also helps the older ones with keeping tabs on their younger siblings, or "charges."
There is a debate whether children should be given a regular allowance, or whether all money should be earned. Benefits of a regular allowance: parents pay reliably each week, making it possible for kids to learn how to manage finances and make good purchasing decisions. Downside: this could possibly lead to an entitlement attitude, akin to some welfare recipients. Benefits of earned income only: You only get paid for work. No work, no pay (which later in life means no food and no place to live). Downside: keeping track of monies earned. Mom gets busy, kids don't get paid, and the system falls apart.
In the past, our approach was to give each of the kids a standard allowance each week that was half their age in dollars, i.e. a 12-year old gets $6/week. In exchange, they were expected to help with their clearly defined and assigned daily chores. This is a good system, and it served us well when the kids were little and I had no time to spend an hour each week playing accountant. Our older kids are all very mature with their finances (compared to how I was at their age), so it must have worked.
However, as the kids got older, I wanted them to keep tabs on their own work (as opposed to me having to check up on them, remind them, etc.), and also get a more accurate feel of "work = pay", and "more work = more pay". But keeping tabs on 6 kids that get paid is still quite a handful, so I was looking for a system that paid based on performance, but with minimal accounting required on my part.
I came across the idea of "docket" based pay on another large family site (though I cannot remember which one, please forgive me if this is your idea and I cannot give you credit for it). Basically, each day is divided into "dockets", each of which earns a certain amount of money. If a job within that docket is missed, that docket will not be paid. This cuts down on the nickel-and-diming for every little job that you want to get done.
In our home, the day is broken into 5 dockets, plus there is a bonus docket for being ready with the morning chores by 9 a.m. in case we need to go somewhere, have someone stop by unexpectedly, and also because that's when we normally start school work. Older kids who have more work get paid more. With this system, Solomon and Isaac could each earn a maximum of $8.40/week, which is not bad considering this is all just their "mad money". I pay extra for certain big jobs they can volunteer for, such as cleaning out a closet, doing yard work, cleaning a bathroom, mopping, etc.
The kids each have separate, more detailed charts to check off each day for their school work. The subjects on here are just the ones they must work on daily if they want to get paid.
The boxes each get filled with a check mark if completed, a dash if it didn't need to be done that day, or an X if the job went undone. Any docket on any day that contains an X will not get paid.
Miriam actually recently got promoted to $.125/docket because she is becoming such an asset to me
You will notice that mealtimes and even "silent time" are listed here, though they could not really be considered "work." However, I have included them so that if a child is unruly during mealtime, takes forever to eat and puts us all behind, or ruins silent time, they can be punished by getting an "X" in that particular box, and thereby losing that docket.
There is an additional "capitalist" aspect: if a certain child is going slow and falling behind, I may reassign their chores from a given docket to a sibling that is working fast and getting ahead. Pay, accordingly, is then transferred to the early bird that got the worm. This is done only by special permission from me, so that it doesn't become too much of a cut-throat mentality, and my kids leap out of bed by 5 a.m. to beat their siblings to their chores.
These lists are mounted on the front of the kitchen fridge. My older boys all know how to print a new list on Sunday mornings if I get too busy to do so on Saturday night, and they also help the little kids (Becky and Anna) get through their chores and get marked off accordingly. On Saturday nights, they tally up the wages for each child, pay them accordingly, and put the completed charts in each child's respective school binders.
Yes, having older kids to help is pretty awesome!
Speaking of older kids pitching in and helping with their younger siblings - this is something a lot of large families get flak for. I find that simply ridiculous. Anyone who births, raises, and trains a worker for half their childhood should be entitled to reap the benefits of such training for the remainder of their living at home. I am thankful that as a child, my brothers and I were expected to help around the house, so I didn't enter adulthood completely clueless as to how to run a household. Laziness is a terrible attribute in anyone, and no child of mine will ever grow up to be a lazy jerk, so help me God. Rest assured, us parents still work more, harder, and longer than any of the kids.
Of course, this particular system with these particular chores will not work for anyone but our family. But I do hope you will be able to take away an idea or two to help you streamline your days and keep your kids on track.