The boys now clean their dishes off the table after a meal (and they always thank the cook for the meal and ask if they may be excused!) but I really want to teach them responsibility and the sense of accomplishment that comes from completing a task. It is also important to me that they learn to handle money responsibly. I realized lately that pinching pennies doesn't actually accomplish anything unless you then budget the money you have saved and keep track of where it is going. I would like my kids to figure this out for themselves before they are almost 40 with a mortgage and kids to feed!
Enter a chore list and weekly allowance. I have been told and have read that paying an allowance is the best way to teach your kids to handle money, so I'm taking a leap of faith here. I cannot express to you how counter-intuitive this is for me. My instinct is to deny them money, ever, and teach them to get used to doing without so that when they are older they will know how to deny themselves the instant gratification of "stuff" and "gadgets" and consumerism. But it does make sense to me that never trusting them to make decisions with their own money will not teach them good spending habits, nor will it give them a sense of pride and value in work and reward. So I started a little chore system a few weeks ago and I must say I'm happy with how it is going.
|6 year old: clear table after meals, wipe out bathroom sink daily, put boots/shoes|
in closet before bed and put all craft supplies away.
With regards to teaching my kids responsibility, I confess that I mostly want a more effective means of getting them to help out. They are usually quite helpful but it sometimes comes down to shouting and threatening consequences to get them to do as they are asked. They are always, always, happier and better behaved when they have a purpose and some structure to their days. So I have hatched a plan to give them each a chore sheet to be completed every day (four simple tasks each as they are 4 and 6 years old). They can put a check mark by the task when it has been completed that day. After 7 days of completed tasks they each get 2 dollars, a loonie (a Canadian dollar coin--ridiculous name, I know!) for their piggy banks (which is being saved to eventually go into their bank accounts), and a loonie for their own spending-jar which they get to spend as they wish.
The "spending as you wish" is going to be a challenge for me. I do not want them hauling more made-in-china plastic junk into this house. But I have already made suggestions like saving to go swimming at the pool (very attainable at $3.50 each. If they do their chores nicely they can go swimming once a month!) or a movie at the theatre. I think the theatre is too loud and too expensive, but it is a great treat to go with daddy to see a new movie. So although in all my frugal tips I mention having movie nights at home, I also want to stress that saving for those occasional treats not only makes them more special but it can be part of a healthy budget. Being frugal doesn't mean being a drag!
|Their decorated money jars :)|
I admit that I've struggled with the decision to give my kids an allowance. I don't want to teach them that they don't have to help out unless they are being paid. I very much want them to be the type of people that pitch in whenever they can. They routinely pick up toys, help with cleaning, dusting and sometimes vacuuming. They quite often help fold clothes and they always put their own clothes away. I could have made any of these the chores that they are paid to do--my goal, really, is for them to learn that when you agree to do something for money you must do it or you don't get paid. And if you do have some money you must learn how to use it wisely. It is a win-win because now I am budgeting for their allowances rather than trips to the swimming pool etc. I budget $4/week and they must budget from there :)
I really want it to become part of my kids' routine to tidy up as they leave a room either after a meal or before bed, rather than leaving it for someone else (me!) to do! I'm finding it very pleasant to have the porches tidy and the cushions where they should be when I come down for tea after the kids are in bed. Those are tiny details that show pride in our home and make me feel more organized and on top of things. As the kids get older I will add more to their chore lists (I can't wait to have them hauling wood into the basement for me, except for the thought of how much older I will be when that happens!).
So what do you think? I am interested in opinions on this one, as I can really see it from both sides. I don't want my kids to feel entitled and be spoiled and expect money for everything they do. On the other hand, I don't want them to expect to go to the pool or theatre and not realize that it costs money and money means someone has worked for it...I'd like to know what other parents are doing as far as allowance/chores go!