Those who will not work will not eat.
I have been a staunch believer in teaching my sons to work. Play time of any kind cannot happen until chores and school are done. “Work first, play next.” I learned that from Caroline Ingalls. Good ol’ Ma, she was the woman.
Since they were quite young, the boys have had a chore chart. They have chores that they must do everyday unless they are dying. If they complete the chore, they get a check mark on their chore chart; if they complete it promptly and without grumbling they get two checks.
Those are basic “because you live here” chores like make your bed, do the laundry and other daily things. After breakfast we do these things before we start school.
At the end of the week I look at their chore charts and if they have the double checks for their chores they get their pay. That money goes into four jars labelled “charity”, “pocket money”, “long term savings”, and “retirement”. Ten percent of their pay goes to whatever church or charity of their choosing. Then the remainder of their money is divided evenly into the three remaining jars.
The kids are given everything they need as far as food and clothes and have plenty of toys; their needs are met by us. We tell them that if they want something above and beyond what we provide they need to buy it themselves. If they want a pack of gum they use their pocket money. If they want a new toy they have to save for it. That’s where their “long term savings” jar comes into play. They have to earn the toy in question, they can’t dip into it to buy something from the dollar store to satisfy a fleeting craving. Because they can’t break into this jar until the savings are complete, they learn the discipline of waiting. Delayed gratification is so hard! But when they bring home that over priced Lord of the Rings Lego that they have been saving for for months, they feel so proud of themselves. The other jar is called “retirement” which was originally meant for just that but now it is more of a college fund, not accessible till they are adults.
This is a simple system that I picked up from a guest speaker who came to a mom group I used to be a part of. The idea is that they learn that money management is a matter of careful budgeting and consistency and that everything has a cost. Another amazing plus is that the boys are learning how to contribute to housework. It’s not a female job, it’s a “you live here so help out” job. I’m hoping their future wives thank me some day when my boys don’t shrink away from doing house work.
On the flip side, I need to live this out myself. If the boys are expected to do these things everyday it keeps me in check too. Some days I want to throw my hands in the air and give up because the chores seem endless … are endless. I remember that the kids did their chores that morning. When I am tempted to search for photos of Paris on Pinterest when I know that I have a sink full of dishes and a new school week to prep I remember that my kids take mental notes of what I do.
On those days when I let things slide and the kids are allowed to have a free for all without contributing to the family, I notice an enormous difference. Especially in my oldest son. He becomes a mess when he is allowed to do whatever he wants. By the end of what should have been a blissful, work free day he is a dark, angry kid lashing out at anything within a tw radius. Then the next day rolls around and those chores that he has had since he was four years old suddenly surprise him to the point of despair. Getting him to do them on these days is like pulling teeth. But once we get over the hurdle of fits and maybe dish out a kindly reprimand he gradually gets back into the swing of things and is in a much better mood.
I really believe that people were meant to work, which is why even before the fall Adam toiled in the garden. Work is good for the soul and it makes our play time all the sweeter.
Also, I make sure that the boys know that they have these chores because I need their help. When they know that they are a valuable, vital part of our family and we truly need their help then their hearts change toward chores. They suddenly feel affirmed, necessary and full of purpose. I tell them that we are a team and I mean it.
So that’s my philosophy on mean mom chores. What’s yours? Do you have a chore system? I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below, it’s as easy as pie. So is subscribing (wink wink).