Tuesday, February 2, 2010

They Work Hard for the Money

When I was growing up I never really had any chores to speak of. Oh, once I got old enough to learn how to use the washing machine I was pretty much in charge of my own clothes. From the time I was in sixth grade until I graduate from high school, it was just me and my mom at home. Neither of us are what I would call "neat freaks," but we weren't complete slobs or anything. My memory is that I would help out with the dishes or cleaning, but I didn't have specific jobs that were my sole responsibility.

My dad gave me an allowance, though. A big one. $20 a week starting when I was 8 or 9 or so. It was his way of assuaging his guilt about his absence in my life and at the time I was easily bought. I would save my money every week until I had enough to buy whatever was catching my fancy at the moment -- though I remember clearly how horrified I was that an Izod shirt was going to take my entire $20!!! But I never earned this money. And I never saved a penny. I firmly believe that this is how I ended up seriously in debt in college and that it is a large part of my poor spending habits now.

As of yet, my children don't have chores or an allowance, but there's a part of me that thinks that needs to change. It's become Bubba's job to take Toby out in the mornings before we leave for the day and in the afternoon when we get home. Punkin occasionally helps me empty the dishwasher.

I've never made them make their beds because we're always so rushed in the mornings that it's a miracle they get their clothes on and their teeth brushed before we have to head out the door. The same is pretty much true of the evenings, too. We get home at 6:00, eat dinner by 6:30 or 6:45 and then sometimes it baths and then straight to bed. Other times we have a little free time to just hang out together before it's time to hit the hay.

But I don't want them to feel entitled. I want them to earn some of the things that they get. I want them to learn to save. And I want them to learn to give.

The children's choir director has asked that we give the children jobs to do around the house and that the children bring in a portion of the money that they earn to support our church's mission trip to Mexico this summer. I think this is a wonderful idea, but when I broached the subject with Bubba on the way home, he didn't think too highly of it. "But why do I have to give my money away? I want to buy something with it!" I get that that's a normal reaction for a seven year old, but I want him to start learning that there are more important causes than a new game for his Nintendo DSi.

So, what say you, dear readers? What are some appropriate chores for a 4-year-old and a 7-year-old? And what should the rate of pay be? I patiently wait your sage advice.


dawn said...

We current position on this issue is that we all have to do some things to keep our family running. You don't get paid for doing your part for the family. Abigail is 7 and she sets the table, wipes down the table after meals, helps fold laundry, puts her laundry away (I had to lower my standards a little), helps unload the dishwasher, picks out clothes for the next week (on Sunday), picks up her room, etc. These are things that she does fairly regularly.

Isaac is 4 and he puts his clothes away, makes sure dirty clothes go into the laundry hamper, takes his plate to the kitchen counter, helps set the table, puts away the silverware (minus sharp knives) from the dishwasher, uses the dustbuster under the table after dinner, etc.

We've found that if we set a time so that we are all working on our chores together (like Sat morning), it goes much better. Both kids are still at a stage where they enjoy helping out mostly. And the chores have grown with them...they've been doing something since age 2.

We don't have allowances right now. However, if they want extra money, we have some jobs we will pay for that are not part of their regular routine (like picking up pinecones in the yard, washing baseboards, etc).


Lauren said...

Hey!! I am kinda going through the same thing...on some level I feel guilty about making my kids do chores (it feels like it should be my responsibility)...but logically I know thats probably not whats best for them. Anyway recently I came across an article about a kids savings plan based on the "money savvy pig" (google it) Its centered around a piggy bank with four chambers (spending, saving, charity and investment). Seemed like a good concept to me (though not necessarily the investment part....the stock market stinks right now ;))

Im not gonna buy the pig (its like 16$) but may try something similar. Good luck!!

AndreAnna said...

I wrote a whole post on this, so rather than retype it here (dude, it's not even 8 am), I shall just link it here.

Lisa @ Boondock Ramblings said...

Chores...taking out the trash...dusting a little maybe....taking the dishes off the table.

Also, my mom and dad used to give me, say $10, a week and then I had a series of envelopes marked with various places the money could go. Example: clothes, CDs/toys, tithe, etc. I had to take the $10 and put a certain amount in each section of what was actually a recipe holder, and it taught me to save up and to think about how my money won't only go to what I want, but what i need as well.

Of course mom and dad didn't make me buy all my own clothes...they did help me with that, but then I could also help through the money I got from my allowance.

calicobebop said...

Muffin is six and she sets the table, makes her bed and gets ready by herself in the morning. On the weekends I give her the swiffer and she "dusts" for me. When we get home from the grocery she puts away the T.P. and other low to the ground items. I have a chore chart for her and if she gets a star in each box we do something special. Just gotta do what works for you!

Tara said...

I like the idea of kids doing some chores just cause they're part of the family. But I have been known to give them a quarter or two at evening clean up time. I am so haphazard and sporadic about this it's ridiculous!

Mir said...

The kids do chores because that's part of being in a family; but they also get allowance so that they can learn how to handle money. Allowance can be docked for various infractions.

When my kids were about your kids' age, they each got $1.75/week. They each have a 3-compartment money container, and received their allowance in quarters. One quarter went into the "Charity" section, two quarters into the "Save" section, and the remaining four quarters were theirs to do with as they pleased. (We still more or less use this method, though they're older and get more money, now.)

The kids are allowed to choose where/how to give their charity money, and often add to it from their discretionary funds as well. I gather up the "Save" money and deposit it to their bank accounts periodically.

I have one child who can't spend that money fast enough on anything and everything, and one who saves it up and occasionally buys something coveted. I have no idea what makes them each the way they are. But when one of them starts clamoring for something that's a want, not a need, it's very gratifying to be able to ask, "Do you have the money to buy that? No? Can you tell me how many weeks you'd have to save your allowance to get it? Very good, now, tell me if it's worth that to you." Sometimes they save up, sometimes they realize it's not worth it.

They're learning SOMETHING, I'm sure. ;)

Laurel said...

You're BACK!!! I had no idea you were blogging again, and today, when I checked just to see (because I've been hoping) there you were! And I've had a remarkably good time catching up. I know I don't get a vote or anything, but I'm really glad to hear your voice again. I find myself nodding my head in agreement with you all the time. I get it: wanting to write, fear of writing, kids, push or not, allowance, chores. Yes. I'm in the same boat. Do you feel me rowing on the other side? Cause I'm there.

Life is soooo hectic that it is hard to be on top of the chore thing for me all the time. But, when I'm on it, here's what my 8 and 6 year old do: empty the silverware from the dishwasher, feed and water the dog, wipe the bathroom counter, practice the piano, carry their clean clothes upstairs and put them away, clean the playroom (put their stuff away), and help me set the table.

On Saturdays, we often do a family quick clean. Set a timer and see if we can clean a room in that amount of time. If we win we get a treat. At 8 Logan can do a decent job of dusting, and Griffin loves using the swiffer vac. And together they've washed my car mats, although they ended up entirely wet afterward.

You're right, though. It really is tricky to find real jobs for them to do. And it's always more work for me, but I also think you're right that it's important for them to learn, so we keep trying around here. Not perfect by any stretch, but trying.

Happy to have you back!

M&Co. said...

The BoyChild is 7. He gets $7 a week. When he turns 8, he'll get a raise to $8 a week. His chores aren't really tied to his allowance. He clears the table, feed the dogs, puts his clothes in the dirty clothes basket, picks up his toys, keeps his room clean.

The BoyChild is very generous with his money and his toys. I'm not sure a mission trip at church would much of an impression on him, but he understands the poor people in Haiti who don't have homes because of the earthquake.

The Thrailkills said...

We do an allowance of $4 each a week. The rule is $1 goes to church (giving), $1 goes in the piggy bank to save, and $2 goes in their envelopes of "spending money."

I don't pay per chore. If you want your allowance, then all the chores have to be done. Basically because I can not keep up with any other system! We have household chores that everyone must do - for the simple pleasure of getting to live here. If they want their allowance, they have to do their laundry (put away all the clothes that are folded in their basket - I bought each a different colored basket - best $1 I ever spent), and clean their room (I must be able to vacuum the floor - only rule).

I have tried a list of chore charts, systems, etc. We just started this and I think I can keep up with it! I require low maintenance and find this works best for me. I keep their "spending envelopes" in my wallet. If we are out, and they must have some trinket at the dollar store - it has to come out of their envelope.

el-e-e said...

We're giving AJ $2.50/week, or if he doesn't do his "chores" (or gets in big trouble during the week), we cut that in half.

His chores include clearing the table after dinner, keeping his toys more or less picked up, and getting dressed by himself in the morning (he's 5). Pretty easy at this point -- I have the same philosophy as you on bed-making in the morning. Ha!

I wanted to do the save/spend/give thing, but DH wasn't interested. However, the other day AJ came up to me with three dollars in his hand, from his piggy bank, and told me he wanted to "give it to the poor." I credit his school for that, totally, but it was pretty darn gratifying.

Katie in MA said...

We don't have a set of daily or weekly required chores at Casa de Katie, but when I need help, I assign chores to the girls. Often it's unloading the tupperware, pans, and silverware (no knives) from the dishwasher, clearing their places (that one *is* daily) and helping fold laundry. For those types of things they don't get allowance - it's part of being a family and we talk about that. If they want to make money (Gracie is just getting this concept now), I have chores I can dole out - washing the windows, dusting, etc. I've been encouraging Gracie to read, so I will give her a dollar as a bookmark.

I think Bubba's response is normal and I like the popular idea of letting him split his money - some to spend at his discretion and some earmarked for charity - is a fabulous way to teach and to let him be a kid at the same time.

Love this topic - I've enjoyed reading everyone's comments!