Kids are so much easier when they are young.
Oh, I know many of you are reading this with one child on your lap tossing Cheerios at your computer screen while another is tugging at your arm, and you are thinking, “I can’t wait until they are older and don’t need my attention all. the. time.”
While I love that my girls are older and more independent (ages 7 & 9), there is something that comes with this age that you don’t expect.
Entitlement and Disrespect for Their Things.
I was completely unprepared for this. I don’t envision my kids as spoiled as they are told ‘no’ more often than ‘yes’ and the amount of ‘stuff’ they have is meager when compared to many of their friends.
But the ‘stuff’ they do have was ending up tossed on floors and scattered around the house. No matter the number of times I asked them to pick up their stuff… then yelled… and then threatened, the problem was never resolved.
And finally, one day, I snapped.
Upon entering my eldest’s room, which (according to her) had been cleaned, I found clothing, bedding and all kinds of random ‘stuff’ all over her floor. Months of futile struggle came to a head as I gathered everything on her floor and took. it. away.
Which made me feel better for a few minutes.
But it didn’t phase her a bit. And that stuff? With the exception of a couple items she had to have (and had to work to earn back), it’s all still in my room. Yes, even her bedding.
It took me a few days to realize that the ‘stuff’ didn’t matter to her. It was just stuff. And that started a parenting revolution in my home.
Banishing Entitlement and Raising Earners
While we loved Financial Peace Junior by Dave Ramsey, we needed something that had a bit more flexibility. Taking bits from quite a few systems, I created Daily Chores for morning, afternoon and evening and Paid Opportunities that can appear any time of the day.
Rule #1: No fun until chores are done.
Morning chores include eating breakfast, getting dressed, brushing hair & teeth and reading. This put a stop to the morning dash to the TV. Obviously this will be adjusted once school begins (we homeschool) to include schoolwork.
Afternoon chores, which include cleaning their rooms, emptying filled laundry baskets (and sorting it) and practicing dance and music, are done after lunch.
Evening chores are picking up all the stuff they may have left laying around the house and getting ready for bed properly. And once the girls are in bed, anything left out becomes mine. One month in the box- not being missed by them- and it leaves the house. It’s surprising just how much they don’t miss when it’s out of sight….
After chores are done to my satisfaction, the girls can play, have a bit of screen time or do crafts. If a Paid Opportunity is available, it can be done only after the daily chores for that time of day are completed.
Rule #2: Paid Opportunities are the only way to earn money.
All the chores listed in the Daily Chores sheets do not earn an allowance. In fact, our girls don’t get an allowance (something that is allowed or granted). Instead, they are commissioned workers. Work and get paid or don’t work and don’t get paid. It’s simple.
Paid Opportunities appear on the board at random intervals. Each has a different pay scale, and the girls can choose to do an opportunity independently or together. Opportunities include collecting trash, washing dishes and emptying the dishwasher. Not surprisingly these are all things I really dislike doing.
Rule #3: Do it right the first time.
If I have to fix a Paid Opportunity, the money disappears.
Rule #4: The family meeting.
Taking place every Sunday evening, this is when we pay the girls. Added bonuses: they learn how it feels to earn, and they learn to count money, make change and give, save, spend.
After pulling their completed chore tags from the board, we have each of them add up their earnings. For shared tasks they also have to figure out how much half of the total earned is. Then, as we split their earnings (10% tithe, 40% save, 50% spend), they must figure out how to correctly change the money they have into the amounts they need. We will also let them see if they can change coins and bills into larger denominations.
Creating Your Own Chore System
I spent only a few dollars to create this system.
I had a spare cork board at home; and, wanting to make the board fun, I bought brightly-colored pushpins, paper and sparkly letters.
The morning, afternoon and evening pages are both color-coded and different lengths.
The marking tags were inexpensive, and this makes it easy to create new tags.
Paid Opportunities that are “open” hang in the center and are moved to labeled pegs when completed. I used the girls’ initials for their own pegs and an “&” sign for the chores they do together.
It’s really an easy, self-explanatory system; and after a few days the girls understood that things had to be done before they could watch a video or play a game.
It seems to be working well so far. Saving for items they really want seems to make my girls understand the value of their things. Though my eldest still struggles with cleaning her room and possibly some hoarding tendencies, the fight on my end is gone.