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No, no. Allow me.

February 8, 2013

chores - kids doingThe Boy has asked for an allowance. For about half of you, this will sound totally normal. When you were little, you got paid weekly for doing your chores. You made your bed, picked up your clothes, and took your dirty dishes to the sink. Does that sound about right?

For the rest of you, an allowance was money paid for hard labor done around the house or in the yard. It was expected that you’d make your bed, pick up your clothes, and take your dirty dishes to the sink. Money could be earned for raking piles of leaves or dusting the whole house. This is the approach we’ve taken with our kids so far. They should pick up and put in the hamper their dirty clothes on a regular basis, and I hope they’ll empty their laundry baskets within a reasonable amount of time. Chores aren’t rewarded. Real work is.

By the way, I’m not exactly sure what I mean by “reasonable.” We aren’t the best at putting laundry away. Half the time, it seems pointless anyway. We have a hamper in the hall for dirty clothes, and the baskets are for clean clothes. I feel the same way about a dishwasher. Putting the dishes in the cabinets after they’re cleaned is silly. Unless you have those glass front cabinets. Then, I guess you need something to put in them so your kitchen looks pretty. Someday I will have two dishwashers. We already have quite a few laundry baskets.

Back to the allowance thing. What’s your philosophy on this? Earning money is good for kids. It teaches them responsibility. They learn to work for things they’d like to have, and saving money becomes habit. I like the idea of setting some aside to donate or tithe as well. A couple of my friends give their children three jars. A percentage of their allowance/earnings goes in each jar. One is labeled “Save,” one “Spend,” and the third is “Give.” Good lessons. I’m for it all in some way.

It’s easier to have a set amount each week, so there isn’t any question as to what needs to be done or paid. As a parent, I like the idea of having some leverage, so they’ll just make the damn beds, forthelove. I would also like it if they’d do that anyway, without incentive. Let’s face it; incentives work.

Honestly, though, my kids will do the stuff I don’t want to do. That’s the bottom line. They’re cheap labor, too. Just the other day, we were running behind, and I’d noticed a major backlog in the dusting department. Give a kid a feather duster, and you’ll blow his mind. They sell them in pink and blue at the dollar store. I even let them choose their own color. Thanks to the feathers, mine would probably do it for free, but offering them a dollar promises dust-free shelves.

I let The Girl use the Swiffer last week. See how I spun that? “Ok, Baby. If you will dust under the furniture for me, I’ll let you use this really cool thing called a Swiffer. You don’t even have to bend over to use it. I’ll even pay you one whole dollar.” She actually cheered. She cheered because I asked her to clean the house. She did my job and enjoyed it. That’s a win-win in my book.

I did pay her the dollar, and I paid her brother for dusting the bookshelves. They have also asked about getting a regular allowance. We can’t seem to figure out the right way to go. How do you do it? Did you get an allowance as a child? I didn’t.

When I was little, my parents gave me the money to go to the movies or to get ice cream with friends. Sure, I had to do stuff around the house, but I didn’t have specified chores. I had to do whatever the hell my parents told me to do. Not only did I have to do it, but I had to do it correctly. Vacuum marks must be visible, and nothing may be shoved under the bed. That last one was the kicker. I could clean my room in five minutes flat. All was cool until my Uncle Tom came in and moved my big brass bed about five feet to the side. There was a perfect square of my possessions that were once hidden under the bed. I started over.

As soon as I was fifteen, I had a job, and money was up to me. My dad bought me a used car after I turned sixteen, but gas, maintenance, and insurance came out of my paycheck. I still believe he got me a car, so I could help shuffle my brothers around town. I got a car; he got a taxi. See? Win-win.

The Boy will be nine in less than two weeks (NINE?). It’s time to figure this all out, I suppose. My kids will help around the house whether they get paid or not. It’s just a matter of how often and for how much. I don’t want to break the bank, but I love their enthusiastic help. Like me, they are more efficient when a buck is involved. A dollar is a small price to pay for an entire dust job. I’m game. Besides, if I’m ever going to finish season two of Downton, I’ll need someone to pick up my slack. I wonder if it’s possible to scrub a toilet with a pink feather duster. Anything’s possible for a price.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Les permalink
    February 8, 2013 10:36 am

    my kids clean their own rooms (when I ask), bring their own laundry to the washer for me to sort, make their own beds because I said so. my husband and I decided we will not pay them for stuff they should do anyway. they pretty much get what they want within reason like ice cream, a small toy now and again, and big stuff they can get for birthdays and Christmas. all of the 4 kids have 2 “jars”…one huge jar for savings (which we periodically go through and pull a partial amount out so they can physically take it to the bank counter themselves to see it being saved) and a piggy bank for spending money (which they’ve rarely used). if they want to donate they can pick which jar to take their money out of. for my oldest daughter, who will also be 9 in less than 2 weeks. we pay her what we feel like when she goes out of her way to help or when we ask her to do something out of the ordinary. although we did just establish an “allowance” 2 weeks ago. we pay her a quarter on friday for buckling up her little sister all week! ha we’re cheap, but hey, quarters add up! she too has been asking for an allowance, but i’ve been to lazy to really get with a set amount and a more permanent set of chores. please post if you decide on a idea for your kids.

    • Jenny permalink*
      February 8, 2013 10:57 am

      You know, I think laziness is my problem as well. I’d have to come up with a plan, remember to implement it, and always stick with it. That’s a lot of work! I LOVE the $.25 salary. VERY affordable! I’m cheap, too.

  2. February 11, 2013 8:21 am

    Your post made me giggle…FYI ~ I found you via Ray who reblogged you today! I have 2 teenage boys whom have never gotten an allowance. They have to clean their rooms, put away their clothes and do various chores when asked. So I am most like your parents who were like mine growing up. If I ask for something to be done that is really big, then I pay a bit. But weekly dusting which takes 5 minutes and those types of things are simply expected as we are a family and we all live here. There’s no Maid in Mom! 🙂 hee hee

  3. February 11, 2013 11:10 am

    We never had allowances, but always chores and always money when we needed it. My parents did keep a check register for me when I made money- so I knew how much I had. That was stupendously fun.

    • Jenny permalink*
      February 11, 2013 6:34 pm

      Same for me, Rach. Minus the exciting checkbook register. 🙂

      • February 12, 2013 1:50 pm

        The checkbook register was pretty awesome and gave new meaning to the “Bank of Dad”

  4. lawlady1 permalink
    February 11, 2013 6:26 pm

    I guess my philosophy is a little different. In the winter (during school) the kids get a monthly allowance – if they request it by the 10th of the month (if not, too bad). That is to cover their pocket money, gas money, eating-out money (my kids are older and driving teenagers). That’s so they aren’t constantly asking me for money, and it teaches them to manage their money (it has to last until the end of the month – no advances).

    Because they live in my house and eat my food, and because I pay for all their “big” expenses (school costs, basic clothing needs, etc.), they are expected to clean their rooms, do their laundry, fold and put away my laundry, meal prep, kitchen clean up, clean house, etc., etc.. for free. Like one of the comments noted, it’s not that much work, and takes only minutes of their day.

    In the summer, the allowance stops. They still have the same chores in the house, but they earn summer money by mowing, gardening, and helping me in the flower beds (we have a 3-acre lot). We also live on a farm, so they augment that money by working for their grandfather or aunt, both of whom have plenty of farm work for them.

    Along with all of that, they are expected to save aggressively for post-high school education and they are also expected to give to the church and other nonprofit interests.

    • Jenny permalink*
      February 11, 2013 6:33 pm

      I’m sure they will be very financially responsible as adults! I’m hoping that whatever I settle on will create the same affect with mine! Keep up the good work!

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