When my friends and I first started having kids, there was a lot of judgment going around.
Some of it was in the form of snide comments, some was discussed behind backs with other like-minded moms, and some was just in our own minds.
We were young, and all trying to find our way in a new role that had no handbook.
Moms have always had to deal with opinions and judgments, but with the addition and bombardment of information available across the web, and the proliferation of social media, it became harder than ever not to feel overwhelmed by it all. Subsequently, it also became easier than ever to feel guilty about not being the perfect parent.
We subconsciously took this conglomeration of all the good things we saw moms doing for and with their kids and built a hybrid super mom in our own minds as a role model no human could ever live up to.
It’s no wonder “mom guilt” has become a term everyone understands.
As we grew into our role as parents, my group of friends began to have a lot more grace for each other. We had more kids and realized *news flash* no two are the same – what works great for one may not work so well for another. We grew into the understanding that we’re all just doing the best we can.
That’s why I love what Angel Soft® is promoting with their Be soft. Be strong. campaign – it takes both! I recently had the chance to work with them, sharing how our family handles some of the difficult issues parents face.
On this video I had a conversation with another mom about different ways to handle allowance.
3 Reasons We Pay Our Kids for Chores
1. Teaching about Work
Work Quality: Of course kids don’t need to be getting paid for chores to learn the importance of doing a quality job, but those we do pay for, we remind them that people don’t get paid to do shoddy work. (Not long, anyway.)
Team: Most of the chores we pay our kids to do involve teamwork. We try to promote a team atmosphere in all aspects of our family life, but I think there’s something helpful about recognizing it in a work setting.
Authority: We remind our kids that even after they’re not under our roof anymore they will always be under some type of authority, and as their “boss” for those chores, that it’s important to learn to respect that even when you don’t feel like it.
Attitude: We try to instill the truth that things in life are largely what you make them – that even mundane work can be fun with the right outlook! Our kids will usually listen to a dramatized radio show or audio book while washing dishes, for example.
Compensation: We want our kids to understand that money doesn’t fall from the sky, grow on trees, or all the other cliché parent sayings. That, and the longer they dawdle around at a job, the less they make per hour. At the same time, we want them to experience the satisfaction of earning their own money.
Cost-Benefit Analysis: Do you ever translate the cost for something you’re considering spending money on into how long it took you to make that money? When our kids are considering a purchase, we relate it to how many chores it would take them to earn, how long it would take to save for without extra earning opportunities, etc.
Entrepreneurship: Occasionally our kids want to buy something that will take a long time to save up for. We encourage them to look for other chores to do or find more ways to make money and negotiate their price – including sometimes selling us things they’re ready to get rid of.
2. Teaching Money Management
Saving & Interest: We use a cool online service for virtual bank accounts for our kids. It allows us to set an interest rate the kids earn if they keep money in savings.
Giving: At this point at least, we require our kids to set aside a percentage of all the money they earn in a “giving” account.
Spending: Like we mentioned earlier, we encourage our kids to consider their cost-benefit for anything they spend, but for the money they earn we really try to stay pretty hands-off with what they choose to spend it on. It’s a good opportunity for them to experiment with making choices, like buying something online and waiting for it to be shipped vs paying a little more in the store and having it right away.
Virtual Money: The same service I mentioned above has debit cards that you load and control from your master account – but you can make different logins for your kids to see their own account and check off their chores.
3. Teaching Life Skills
Training small humans to become big humans is a daunting task.
For us, paying our kids to do chores is about them learning on the job, so to speak.
It can be difficult to decide what age appropriate chores are, but so far, we pay them to wash dishes (once a day on weekdays), clean the bathroom, vacuum the living room, dust, and do their laundry.
If we weren’t looking for opportunities to compensate them, we probably would have waited until they were substantially older to do some of the things they’ve already learned.
These tasks all really help us out and we’re happy to pay our kids to do them. (See below for how much we pay.)
Basically, everything that we work on with our kids we try to help them understand how it relates to their future. There’s something to be said for living in the present, sure, but we definitely want our kids to recognize how present choices affect future circumstances.
Concerns We Have about Paying Our Kids for Chores and How We Handle Them
What about entitlement?
When Maeve was too young to do other tasks, we paid her to clean her room, but not to clean up other parts of the house. Now that she gets paid for other jobs, cleaning her room is a non-paid chore. As the kids get older, their chore compensation will continue to change.
It’s important to us that they always have chores to do as part of contributing to the family, and that they don’t look at everything in life with a “what’s-in-it-for-me?” attitude.
How much to pay?
Partly because what they get paid to do will continue to change as they get older, and partly because we already supply our kids with everything they need, we don’t pay much right now.
They each get $0.25 per regular chore, so if they had a really good month they each might make about $8.75 based on how often some of the chores could be done in our home. Realistically, it probably ends up usually being closer to $5 per month with our random schedule.
What about choosing to do a paid chore or not?
For us this is a yes and no. If they’re having a bad attitude we remind them that people who don’t go to work don’t get to keep their jobs, but we also keep it laid back if they’re playing really well together and miss a day of doing dishes, for example.
There are sometimes additional chores or jobs we offer them (like taking pictures for this post, for example – hat tip to Amanda, the other mom in the videos, for that idea 🙂 ) that have varying monetary values which they are able to choose to do or not.
How to handle quality control?
Depending on the difficulty of the chore, we have our kids do it a few times before they earn monetary compensation. As they get older and get the basics down better, the quality we expect increases – with dishes, for example, it expands to cleaning up the counters.
What about developing a serving mindset?
More than just not having a bratty entitlement attitude, we want our kids to look for opportunities to do things for others. Admittedly, we could use more work on this. (Please share your tips in the comments!)
So far, one thing we do is award our kids Awesome Cards when we see them doing something especially thoughtful.
Although a hug or high five, word of affirmation, or simply the satisfaction in their hearts of knowing they did the right thing should technically be enough, even as adults we can agree that it’s still nice to have a tangible momento sometimes. Our kids love collecting the cards, and it’s a subtle reminder to look for more ways to help.
What do you think about the chore issue? And what are your thoughts about giving your kids an allowance?
Check out these other discussions I had in the Be soft. Be strong. series so far, and visit the Angel Soft® Facebook page to see what other moms are saying!
2 Moms On: Getting Kids to Clean Up
2 Moms On: Dealing with Tantrums
2 Moms On: Getting Kids to Try New Foods
You can also follow #BeSoftBeStrong on Twitter to join the conversation 🙂
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Georgia Pacific. The opinions and text are all mine.