Friday, November 07, 2008

Why I Love Kid Allowances

This is why I love kid allowances. I get to leave wonderful notes like this and know what kind of reception they will receive. It truly does my heart good. Does that make me a mean mother? Maybe. Do I care? Not one bit.

Our philosophy on allowances and chores is quite simple. You get an allowance because you are part of our family and we want you to learn about money and you do chores because you are part of our family and we don't want you to grow up and be a slob. When you turn five you are old enough to get allowance. You get 25 cents for each year you are old. You must give ten percent of your earnings to charity. We do not charge any family taxes, though I kind of like the idea as I am a mean mom. We do not require long term savings because our kids get so little in allowance the have to save to be able to buy anything. Allowances do not get docked if chores do not get done. You receive full allowance every week not matter what.

Not doing chores can result in having to pay Michael or I to do said chore. As above. If you don't make your bed then you must pay me 25 cents for my labor to do it for you. If you leave lights on, that is five cents. You get the idea. It is rare that someone has to pay me to do their chores as most days they gladly do them. But about once a month or so someone gets a little lazy and needs this gentle reminder that I am not the maid, just the Mommy. I'm anxious to see Charlotte's reaction as this is her first such note. It should be interesting.

I know some people tie allowances and chores together and you get paid for doing chores. My problem with this is that when you grow up, no one is going to pay you to make your bed, feed the dog, empty the dishwasher, pick up your dirty clothes, do the laundry, etc. If you don't do them you are either going to live in a pigsty or pay someone to do them for you. So that is why we have adopted the system we have to get our children accustomed to the system they will live with when the grow up.

Just this week I made $2.50 doing work for Rehm. You see, he decided that it would be a great idea to take a ball point pen and make a four inch square swirly design on his comforter. He also decided that it would be a great idea to not mention this fact to his parents as he was afraid. (I can't imagine why.) When I discovered said design I asked him about it. Here is the conversation that followed:

Me: Um, Rehm, what is this on your bed?

Rehm: Oh, it was an accident. [I hate this excuse. My kids are smart enough to come up with better excuses than this - but that is a whole different post.]

Me: How was this an accident?

Rehm: Well I was using one of the click pens and I thought it was off...

Me: Rehm, really? I mean I could see that if we were talking about an couple of straight lines that were like an inch long but you hand to know what you were doing to make this design (it was just a swirly doodle nothing to artistic).

Rehm: I didn't mean to do it?

Me: Really, so why did you?

Rehm: I don't know!

Me: So why didn't you tell me about it?

Rehm: I was scared I'd get in trouble.

Me: So do you think you are going to get in less trouble now when I've found it all on my own?

Rehm: No.

Me: So do you think you would have gotten in less trouble if you had come to me and said, "Mom, I did something I shouldn't have and I'm really sorry, please tell me what I can do to fix it." Or do you think it was better to hope I didn't see it?

Rehm: I was scared!

Me: Well there will be consequences but I'm just not sure what they will be. I'll have to talk to your Dad so we can decide what appropriate consequences are.

Rehm: Can you just take away some computer time

Me (thinking to myself): Not now that I know you don't think that is a big deal!

Me (to Rehm): Um, probably not. I'll have to talk to your dad

Rehm start trying to make himself cry at this point, trying for the sympathy route. He did manage to squeeze out a single tear but it took him a lot of work. I told him I would let him know the consequences in the morning but there was no need to worry about it until then.

Michael and I decided that he would pay me $1 for every five minutes of work I did to try to remove the stain. If I could not remove the stain he would pay me an additional $5 replacement fee to be used toward the cost of a new comforter.

It took me approximately 13 minutes of stain treatment and washing/drying time (this was the time spent getting it in and out of the washer and dryer and remaking his bed) to remove the stain. While the comforter was in the dryer, Rehm came to ask if he had to pay for the washing and drying time. (They both display how long the cycle is and he was getting worried since it takes 52 minutes to dry a load and that would mean $10!). I told him he did not, just the time I had to be involved. Needless to say he was thrilled with the answer.

In total, his bill came to $2.50. He was very relieved that it wasn't more and paid me without complaint. He did point out that "the orange stain on his sheet had been there a long time and he did not do it or know how it got there!"

I was happy that I had an extra $2.50, I had made my point to my son that we take care of our things and we take responsibility when we mess things up, and that his Mother's time and energy were not free! Furthermore, I made him understand that not owning up to our bad choices doesn't help matters.

And yes, if you do the math, the child only gets $1.75 in allowance and of that 18 cents goes to charity. So this bad choice cost him almost two weeks of allowance. I told you I was a mean Mom!

Jenn - the Meanie
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1 comment:

Jenn said...

Charlotte's reaction to the note: She came to find me, handed me 25 cents and said, "thanks Mommy for making my bed!" And then skipped out of the room. Love it!