We've made three basic changes: we've upped the amount we give them each week, we've stopped buying them toys and goodies, and we've started offering them paid "jobs."
I'll detail the rationale in later posts, but for now, I'd like to crow about one of the jobs I devised for my ten year-old son. It's a classic — lawn mowing — but it solved so many problems at once I think it qualifies as a hack. Either that or I'm just in the mood for a little recognition.
Anyway! Here's what I did:
- I canceled our $87 per month mowing service.
- I bought a reel mower for $30 off of Craigslist.
- I'm paying my son $5 per week to mow the lawn.
Problems solved and lessons learned:
- No more noisy, polluting lawnmowers outside our house each week.
- Lawn gets mowed without my husband or I having to do it.
- I save over $60 per month (and the "new" lawn mower pays for itself).
- My son earns money over and above his allowance.
- He learns about the real world economy.
- He learns what goes into caring for a home.
- He's outside, working and contributing to our family, and learning a skill he can eventually leverage into his own summertime business.
This works with any household job that goes above and beyond regular family responsibilities. I know there are many who believe that one shouldn't pay kids for work around the house — it should be part and parcel of cooperative family living — but, for our family, it works. For my son especially, the abstract concept of "contribution" is more easily learned within the concrete framework of a paid job.
Paying our kids also saves us even more money, because the $20 he's getting paid used to be spent on the trinkets we'd mindlessly pick up throughout the month. Some months he may spend the money (so no net savings for us), but at least he's buying things he finds meaningful, and he's learning in the process.
My six year-old daughter is getting paid small amounts to "prune" spent plants and to pull weeds. She loves it.
Next for my son: the laundry.
I'd love to hear your ideas! What are some good potentially wage-earning household jobs…for kids of all ages?