Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Mad Money

Although I have promised my kids $3 per week each in allowance, I almost always forget to give it to them. This results in situations like this morning, when Miss M suddenly claimed “back” allowance of $27 in preparation for a school field trip involving a stop at Knoxville’s Mast General Store.* Where she basically blew the entire amount on a sock monkey that will end up under her bed and overpriced candy that will rot her teeth. When she defended it was “her” money, to do with what she wished, I peevishly pointed out that it wasn’t “her” money at all.  That in fact, it was MY money, that I GAVE her, and that she had done nothing for it.

For the sake of my blood pressure, I won’t even go into how Boy Wonder: (a) loses or misplaces almost any money that is given to him; and/or (b) gives it away to his friends. This makes me CRAZEEE.  Boy Wonder is currently on allowance suspension WITHOUT back pay until he finds his wallet and the $5 bill I know my aunt sent him for Halloween.

The only way I am going to feel good about giving my kids money is if they value it and do something for it. This is what one authority cites as chores 8-10 year-olds can do:

• Make their beds
• Water plants
• Clean up after bath (hang towel, put dirty clothes in hamper)
• Help pack lunch (get lunch box; put napkin, water bottle, and fruit inside)
• Empty bedroom/bathroom trash cans
• Clear place at table
• Dry non-breakable dishes
• Sort clean socks
• Fold clean clothes and return them to drawers and closets
• Pick up bedroom daily
• Bring in mail or newspaper
• Strip bed linens
• Set alarm clock (with adult supervision) and be responsible for waking up on time
• Keep a younger sibling occupied if mom or dad is busy
• Dust furniture with a damp cloth
• Take care of pets: Brush and feed a dog (and walk him, too, if the dog is not too large); change a hamster cage; feed fish; clean cat litter box.
• Straighten family and play rooms
• Put away laundry that isn't theirs
• Set the table
• Shine mirrors in bathroom/hallway
• Clean sinks and toilets
• Load the dishwasher
• Bring in groceries
• Vacuum a room

My kids already do some of these things, and I don't believe in paying for tasks that are just part of taking care of a shared home.  If they want to be paid an allowance, Miss M and Boy Wonder are going to have to do extra work.  For example, emptying the dishwasher, drying dishes, and feeding the dogs qualify in my book as "extra work." No extra work = no allowance.  That way, they'll have earned their money, and when they misplace it or blow the whole wad on items with no lasting value, I can feel good shrugging and saying, "Well, it's YOUR money." 

But today?  After spending $20 on a sock monkey and candy for Miss M?  And getting nothing in return?

Not feeling so good about it.

*When did school field trips start to include a retail experience?

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