Monday, February 9, 2009

$M: Allowed.

For those who asked: Here is how we do an allowance for our kids.

1. We started out small, when they were old enough to understand money, amounts (really grasping the idea numbers and what they can represent, and that things in stores etc. have a "cost"). Grace and Patience were 5 and 3 when we got official about an allowance.

The first system involved a sticker chart, and three simple tasks they needed to do every day. It was on the fridge, the tasks were clearly explained and could be simply completed by each girl, and the condition was if they did the task for the day, they got a sticker. At the end of a 7 day week, if they had a full row of stickers for that task, they got .25 for that row.
If we had to ask them to do the task, they didn't get a sticker for the day.
The tasks were: Water your assigned pots outside (it was summer), make your bed, and clean up/put away your things after quiet time in the afternoon. If they did these, did them well, and did them without needing to be reminded by a parent, they got some bling in their money bags (labeled ziplock bags in the kitchen).
Kids will do a great job at reminding each other, I think, and they'll have fun, as long as you keep it fun, and keep the jobs suitable for each age. Kids love this kind of thing.The girls' tasks have evolved since then. We established a simple and small routine at first, then it could grow to bigger tasks, and bigger paychecks. Right now, they are paid:
.25 a week for making their beds.
.25 a week for cleaning up after quiet time.
$2 a week for sorting and putting away their own laundry.
$1 a week for sorting and putting away Lily and Hudson's laundry.
So that's $3.50 a week. Sometimes an odd task will come up and I'll offer them $___ to do it, etc. It just depends.
They get paid every two weeks, just like Daddy.
They keep their money in their own wallets now, Disney princess wallets from Target, so when they go out and about with their green they're looking stylish.
When Lily is old enough (about 3 1/2 I think, we'll see when she's ready, she will do this for herself, and Hudson will follow in time.)
If they take longer than the required amount of time to do the laundry (a reasonable hour, which is more than enough time), or if they have bad attitudes, they still have to complete the job, but no bananas for those monkeys -This applies to all their jobs. In five months, this has only happened to one of them once, when it comes to laundry. I'm sure it's happened a few times each when it comes to the other jobs. All in all, they think it's fun to be productive members of society.) Also, between sibs, there's always an element of competition, which keeps things lively.You might be surprised at what your kids can do and do well. I'm always reminding myself of that, seeing if there are new things they can take on for themselves at the right time. Sometimes Mamas forget that their babies are growing up! At the time that I first offered to let them try out putting away their own clothes, I didn't know what to expect, and didn't expect much. They blew me away. They folded just as well as I could have, they sorted the socks and unmentionables, and had no problem getting hangers in shirts. Their drawers in the closet are clearly marked with a simple system, one for each girl, so it's simple to put away their things. I just get the empty hangers down for them each week and they do the rest. Kids are very particular about what belongs to who, so they remember very accurately where each thing goes. Occasionally I find one or two shirts misplaced, and that's only because one girl was wearing that shirt 8 months ago, but now it's been passed down and they forgot. Can't blame them for that.
My laundry work load went from laundry for 6, which was very oppressive to me, I just hate it, to laundry for 2. Overnight. I was just amazed. I mean, WOW, Mama, that's a monkey off my back.
And my kids love feeling responsible for a job, independent and in charge of their own clothes, and getting rewarded.

A few extra thoughts, If you're still reading.

My kids tithe 10% of all their income, from allowance and from gifts of money, to our church.

They are very aware of giving too, and we don't ever require it of them, but occasionally they want to give money to something, like bell-ringers at Christmas etc, or to the adoption jar in the kitchen, which was Grace's idea. It's good to just make kids aware of the concept of giving, I think, and sometimes they really surprise me with their generosity.

We don't encourage them to spend their money right away, but we try not to interfere with their decisions too much, it's all just a discerning balance of when to just not allow a purchase, and when to let them make their own decisions (and mistakes) and learn from them. It's hard to keep my mouth shut, but, I know I need to. I might think that useless purse is a waste of money, but then again, I don't need most of the things I buy, either. Touche. It's also just about discerning case-by-case when it's something we'll buy for them, or something they'll buy for themselves.
One is a natural spender (like me!), one a saver, but, all in all, they have a healthy flow of cash, as they really do like to see it grow. Like right now, they have $40 and $50 in their wallets respectively, and that's not unusual, especially post-holidays. Probably won't be when they're older!

Though they have these few jobs that pay when the terms of our agreement are reached, they also have the responsibility of being active members of this working household. We all work hard here. Mama is not the slave, she's your loving nurturer- but no slave! If you're able to do it yourself, you probably do it yourself. If you're asked to do something, you hop to. You clean up your own messes, you help clean up someone else's if you're asked to or want to, and in general, you work in this house, because you're a member of it, paid or not, because that's being responsible for your life and things and others. These jobs are just a way to grow in understanding the value of work and money, and doing a job well, but if you live here, you pitch in, because that's what we do to love and help each other, not because we're getting paid. That's just how we roll. And we're a family of six, so that's how we have to roll, if I'm going to be sane.
As a result, though I'm sure it sounds to the contrary, our house is really fun!


Lisa said...

very cool. great explanation & great system. We're about ready to try something w/ Julia & I think this sounds like it would work!!! thank you much for sharing ;)

Beth Cotell said...

What a great system! Thanks for sharing how you do it.

Tarrah said...

Great post Megan!! I love your family, you are a wonderful mommy and you have wonderful ideas. I used to have a chore chart for Abriella where she got allowance for but since we've moved I had gotten away from it. Thank you for the reminder :)

Debbie said...

Sounds like a great system. It is challenging not to interfere with how they spend, isn't it?

Jenn Boerger said...

Always love your $M, Megan, and this is no exception! Thanks for explaining how you do this and your rationale. When our children are older, we'll be doing something similar, I'm sure. I'm with you in that I am surprised when Olivia can do something herself, and I realize that she's growing up and developing skills that I didn't even realize until that moment. And what a blessing it is when it helps to lighten the load on momma!

Annika said...

Great tips. We have a similar system.

Unknown said...

Oh this is so encouraging to me.

I have been thinking my 4 1/2 year old was big enough to put away her own laundry, but she says she can't.

Hmmm... I'll have to show her again. And maybe paying her will be a motivator.

Shelby-Grace said...

Thanks for sharing how your system works. We do something similar with our little one. And she's like me, a spender:)

A Crafty Mom said...

Terrific tips - my oldest is almost five and I feel he and his brother are ready for some basic chores. They are pretty helpful already, but they definitely have to be asked. Multiple times sometimes!! These are great ideas, and I will definitely be trying them out.