My older child at 5 is probably overdue in the chores and an allowance department. Most of my friends started their money matters talks/routines with their kidlettes lot earlier. I can’t say exactly when a child is ready to shoulder responsibilities for an allowance, but for me, when the “I want that” clearly fails to translate as hard earned $money$ in his head and he keeps thinking money just materializes from nowhere, it was time. I have been thinking about how to incorporate chores into my children’s daily lives all summer. Now that the school year is upon us and our weekly schedules have been laid out for the most part, making a chart to visualize these chores and rewards seemed fitting.
Both my children have piggy-banks at home for found pennies and birthday/holiday gift money. They also each have college savings accounts that we contribute monthly to and separate Coogan accounts for when they do print work. The bank accounts will remain untouched, but lately my 5 year old has been dipping into his piggy bank for quarters to play arcade games or, like the other day, he spent about $30.00 to buy a new toy without even knowing how much he had initially and consequently no idea how much was left after the plunder occurred. (I counted it out dollar for dollar and he wasn’t even paying attention.)
I don’t think he knows enough about what currency actually is to appreciate the value of it, nor does he know where it comes from and how it is exchanged. He sees me paying for groceries with a credit card and asks occasional questions about money along the lines of, “Mommy, where can I find money?” Or, “How do you and Daddy get money?” I think he understands that you need money to buy things, but he most certainly doesn’t know the 2 most important things about it. Respect for it’s value and the hard work that goes into earning it.
After a long and tedious explanation, the poor kid walked away looking very bewildered. The next day after he had slept on the information he received he asked, “How much money did grammy give me for my birthday? And is it enough to buy that _______ lego set?” Grrrr… He didn’t get my message.
It’s probably never too early to teach and reiterate the importance of saving and to respect the money one earns. Truly understanding the full concept of how money works is surely a difficult topic for any child to wrap his/her head around. I mean, some people don’t get the vital concepts of spending wisely as adults! But I don’t want to shy away from talking about it openly because it’s an important lesson for life. I foresee many, many more conversations about money with my littles over the years. I’ll just have to cut out the difficult jargon and dumb it down to kid-speak next time.
For now, we are working on understanding values. A penny is one cent. A nickel is 5 pennies… That lego set you want so badly is $55.69 so that’s how many pennies? Yes, that would be five thousand five hundred and sixty nine pennies. I don’t see the need to give the kid a huge allowance, but as a way of teaching him that a diligent and consistent work ethic = monetary rewards, is where some chores will come into play. The kid is going into kindergarten, so I know I can’t expect a whole lot of perfection or nor expect him to pull tons of weight in house work department, but I think a few simple daily/weekly tasks is appropriate.
The obvious ones that even the 2 year old should participate in:
- Make your bed every morning to the best of your ability.
- Clean up your toys each night.
A few more I have in mind:
- Set the table for family dinner.
- Take out the trash.
- Water some plants.
Just until last week, I was going to add: 4. Feed the fish… But unfortunately our beta, Mr. Blue Fish met his demise and was ceremoniously buried in the front yard so that one is out…
Make your bed and you get a nickel. Make your bed for 7 days in a row and you make 35 cents. In a week of completing all your different chores, you could possibly make a few dollars. And whaddya know? After a few months, (snicker) you may be able to save five thousand five hundred and sixty nine cents for that (stupid) lego set! Awesome right?
His reaction? “Uhhhhh, how many days is a few months?”
I don’t know how to put a proper value on things that should technically be done without getting paid. I mean, if I put a value to all the shit I do on a daily basis as a mom, I’d be a frickin’ millionaire! I’m starting slow and low with my little boy. 5 cents is nothing really, but I want him to work for it and I don’t want it to come easy. We’ll try this. Perhaps it will instill a tiny seed of creating a budding good work ethic for his future.