The "Chores vs. Allowance" Debate

"Mom, how can I earn $90 really fast?" My nine-year-old is tall enough to look me in the eyes while he's asking me this.

"Get a job, you bum," I answer jokingly.

"No, Mom, I'm serious," he implores. "There's a super cool new Lego set that I really want to get before the price goes up."

Well, at least he's like his mom: has expensive taste, but shops when there is a sale. 

"That's pretty expensive, Bud," and I let my voice trail off from there. What I'm really thinking is that he doesn't need another Lego set, especially one that is that expensive.

But, how can you tell that to a nine-year-old, Lego obsessed boy who always puts the Legos together and keeps them together?

He goes to Hubby next and asks if he can shovel the driveway for money.

No grass, just mud. 
"All the snow has melted."

Mow the lawn?

"We don't have any grass yet."

Help plant the garden?

And that's when "the talk" begins.

You see, Hubby does not believe in giving allowance. We've been around and around with this discussion. I think it would be nice if the boys had their own money. I make chore charts and lists and schedules with special job codes for each boy to follow.

Hubby thinks that everyone should just "pitch in and get it done." His way people argue about why they have to vacuum the floor after dinner again because they just did it last night, and why does so-and-so never have to vacuum? In my way, you do it because it's your job this week.

Yes, in Hubby's way, things do get done faster sometimes; that is, when little boys aren't sneaking away hoping we won't notice they didn't actually do anything to help. In my way, we are frequently waiting on someone to finish his meal first so he can finish his job first so someone else can do his. But it's fair and equal. I believe in fair and equal (although I don't believe they are the same thing - post for another time).

While we were trying to sell our old house, we had to clean quite frequently for showings and open houses. When we all pitched in, it wasn't so bad. So we decided to let our cleaning lady go and clean the new house ourselves. Each of the boys has his own room and shares a bathroom with one other brother. Their weekend chores look like this:

  • Bedrooms: Tidy up, put clothes away, change sheets, bring down dirty laundry (including sheets and towels) and sort into baskets. Vacuum your own room and hallway outside your room. Dust dresser, desk, shelf, and nightstand.
  • Bathrooms: With help from Mom or Dad, wipe own counter and sink, clean toilet, and wipe floor. One person will do powder bath.
  • Media Room: One person vacuums, one person dusts, and one person “fluffs” (straightens movies, games, pillows, throw blankets, etc…) There is a chart indicating who does what which week.
  • Basement: Everyone helps pick up toys. 
We're going on the third month in our new home. They still moan and groan about it. You'd think it would be routine by now, but it's not. 

However, it will be because in a way, I agree with Hubby: everyone should do chores and contribute to the run of the house. Hubby is a very generous dad. He takes the boys lots of places. They get nice gifts for their birthdays and Christmas and Easter, and sometimes on no special occasion at all. And he does give them money every now and then when they do special chores with him that require a lot of hard work (like raking leaves or fixing something or carrying boxes). That being said, I know we agree on one thing: we don't want our sons to grow up being spoiled, entitled jerks. 

Both Hubby and I grew up in families with parents who worked really hard, not only at their jobs, but in our homes as well. The sooner we teach them to take pride in their home and their possessions, the better. So here were Hubby's suggestions to Knox on how he could make money:

  • Learn how to mow and trim bushes. Charge the neighbors for your services.
  • Rake leaves.
  • Plant a garden and go door-to-door selling the leftover produce. 
This is their grand plan. So when he gets older, I am hiring him out for lawn work. However, this fall, supposedly we will have a bumper crop of produce in the empty field next to our house. If you need some, be sure to visit our stand. It will be the one with the unorganized rows of produce, the sign that is falling off, the workers who are arguing about what their exact job is and how much money they should get, and probably will be the cart that is eventually abandoned by said workers. Free produce for everyone!

Chore to allowance ratio? Not learned yet, but we're getting there. 

Do you give your kids chores? Do they earn an allowance? 

feature photo: shutterstock.com

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