“…but could I get money for it?”

It was toward the end of Spring, Madilyn came into the kitchen, hoisted herself up onto the stool, and in a very grown-up manner said “Mom, I need to ask you a question.” You can only imagine the rapid speed at which hundreds of wild-child questions were racing through my mind only for her to boldly and politely ask, “Do you think I could start getting paid to do things like the dishes and laundry. I could mop the floor and sweep it, well actually, I’d sweep it first, don’t worry- but could I get money for it, pllleeeaassee?” 

This was a proud mommy-moment for me. I am one who lives and breathes work ethic. My children must always aim to be three things, 1. kind 2. respectful 3. self-sufficient. Yes, of course there are other traits I work diligently to instill in them but work ethic is one of the keys. It has been a foundation for me and I hope it is for them as well. While I wanted to shout “YES! Absolutely! Let’s start right now!” I calmed my inner evil-step mother and hesitated. I knew that we would get to it but I needed time to process and talk with my parenting partner, the husband-person himself, to make sure we did this right. In a world of high paying tooth fairies and overzealous holiday elves, neither of which we have at the Fowler Farm, there was something about this whole transaction that didn’t seem as simple as earning an allowance like “back in my day.”
I promised her that we would start something over the summer and help her transition before heading back to school but I needed to talk to Dad first. Being the frugal mom that I am I also didn’t want to just start handing over money, come on are you surprised? So I took my time with it. I observed her habits, her strengths, her likes and dislikes- with every intention of teaching her the next steps in this life skill. When she returned from her 4th of July trip to Colorado I had a new dry-erase board for her and we sat down and had a heart-to-heart about chores, expectations, and the way she was going to earn her allowance. This was not just her earning money this was/is her first job and she can be both rewarded and fined at anytime. Just like with any job, she controls her success. Here’s how it goes.
She gets paid $0.25 for every approved check mark she earns Monday-Saturday. Sundays are excluded because this is the day our whole family is home and we all take care of chores, cleaning and projects. There is no chore money to be earned on Sunday BUT if she does not meet expectations, as described below, she may be docked on any day. My house, my contract.
As agreed upon in our verbal contract she may be fined at any time for her behavior or for not completing a chore up to par. This can, and has, resulted in a loss of a single quarter or a full week’s pay. Disrespect, tantrums, being rude or mean, and selective listening can all result in deductions.
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This whole arrangement is an agreement, including the selection of chore activities that she can earn allowance for. These can be completed at least once a day as many times a week as she would like.
  • Feeding and watering our pup Brody (don’t worry he still eats when she doesn’t do this chore)
  • Cleaning her room
  • Folding and/or putting away laundry
  • Doing the dishes
  • Helping Mom/Dad around the house with various chores (i.e. cooking, picking up, watering the plants, organizing, etc.)
  • Keeping her bathroom “neat” (this includes cleaning her trail of toothpaste off the sink, hanging the hand towel back up, picking her clothes up off the floor, putting away the bath toys and flushing the toilet)
To-date we are on week 3. She has earned a total of $2.00 and lost only $0.75 making her YTD $1.25. Note: All gains/losses are within the same week so there is no “money owed” from her YTD total…although I do keep this in mind in case of hefty reprimand in the future where I need to dig for something good.
Overall she has done very well. She has completed between 3-5 chores each week which I think is impressive for a 6 yr old. I don’t hound her to do them, with the exception of her room…we are still negotiating this. She understands that we all have responsibilities in the upkeep of our home and I’m proud of her for recognizing this.
Finally, you may be thinking, what does a 6 year old need an allowance for? What does she do with it? Well, just like most of us, her “paycheck” goes straight to the bank. She did make one request, asking if she could buy a balloon for her best friend’s birthday and we went to the bank, got the amount she needed and any remaining change went straight back into the deposit envelope. It may not be a big deposit, but everyone has to start somewhere.

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