To date, my husband and I haven’t been doling out weekly allowances to our children, and we don’t plan to do so anytime soon. I never received one as a child, so it just seemed natural that I wouldn’t give one to my kids either. My husband and I had a casual conversation on the subject one day early in our parenting years and he said he had received the odd dollar or two for mowing the lawn in the summer, but that was pretty much it. So, it was settled. I love when decisions are that easy.
My kids are 13 and ten years old now, and sometimes they (mostly my older daughter) ask why they don’t receive an allowance like many of their friends. I tell them that they can earn extra money by doing odd jobs around the house, but not for regular household chores such as setting the table, emptying the dishwasher, and folding the laundry – these are all things that are required of them as members of our family team, so to speak.
I explain that if they help with spring cleaning, organizing their desks, sorting old toys and other seasonal jobs, I will pay them or give them something for the tasks they complete. Last spring, I gave them a loonie for each bin they sorted through and separated into recycling, trash or giveaway.
One day, my daughter holed herself up in her room for a couple of hours before emerging, chest puffed out and a big grin on her face. “Guess what I’ve been doing?” I guessed that she’d been tidying her room and she nodded and declared that it was now officially a “teenager’s room” sans all the babyish clutter. My jaw dropped when I went in to inspect because it was indeed ship-shape and she’s not typically the most willing worker bee in our home. That particular project reaped a nice reward for her: an animal figurine she had been coveting.
Some may argue that I’m not preparing my children for the real world by not teaching valuable money lessons, but I say that can be taught without a weekly allowance. Both my children have some money stashed away from birthdays and Christmas gifts, and hard-earned cash from giving Mom and Dad foot rubs or doing odd jobs around the house. Doesn’t this teach values and a good work ethic? It’s good for them to know that a lot of hard work is done in life simply because it’s what you do when you’re part of a team and working towards the same goal, and that not everything is done for money. Sometimes it’s most rewarding to see a big smile on Mom’s face when she sees a freshly organized closet.
For tips on age-appropriate chores, incentives and rewards, plus more, check out More Time Moms Chores for Kids.
By Kristen Wint