Incentives are wonderful things
The 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? “Okay, 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 15, I had a job and money was up to me. My dad bought me a used car after I turned 16, 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. You Might Also Like: