Your Job Is School, Your Duties Are Chores, Your Effort is Allowance

I love my oldest boy. He is creative and fun and loving, but he is also twelve.  Twelve is hard.  We are in the entitlement phase of comparing ourselves to others about what I should have, should be able to do, and shouldn’t have to.  So this is what I tell him,

“Your Job Is School, Your Duties Are Chores, Your Effort is Allowance”

And he rolls his eyes, sighs, and usually pouts a little, but I refuse to just GIVE him things because he feels like it’s a requirement of life.  Life will give you the WORLD when you work for it.  But life will also give you a kick in the pants when you get lazy, entitled, and spoiled.  And I just ain’t having that!

Through the years the requirements and rewards to each of these categories has changed.  Here’s a breakdown of how I have handled it and I hope it may be a help to you as well.

Your Job Is School

When Si was in Grade School we would pay him for his grades.  I realize that not everyone likes this idea, but it was minimal payment for a job well done and we escalated it to encourage better performance and didn’t payout for mediocre grades unless the effort was apparent, but the curriculum was challenging for him at the time.  We also didn’t payout for every worksheet or homework lessons.  Most of the times it was test grades and report cards and the price tag was relatable to his age.

1st and 2nd grade went something like this:  50¢ for Test A’s, 25¢ for B’s, and a dime for C’s if the effort was there, but we did not advertise this.  It was determined upon merit.  Report cards paid out $10 for all A’s, $5 for A’s and B’s, and then we either docked a dollar for a C or did not depending upon merit.

3rd and 4th grade we quit paying out for tests because it was time to change the game and help him understand that your job has requirements that don’t necessarily pay out immediately, but the end reward is worth it.  So we went to only paying out report cards.

It’s important to note that we always reiterated that his JOB was school just like Dad’s job was working on tractors and mom’s job was working at the feed store.  He was getting paid for the job he was doing.  Doing it well means he was paid more, and early on, more often.  We also made him set up a savings account for himself in a separate piggy bank and he tithed on Sundays at church.  Si was required to save at least a 1/3 of his earnings.

I did not regulate Si on what he spent his money on either.  If he wanted a toy, or candy, or Pokemon cards, then he was allowed to purchase that with his own money.

5th grade changed everything when my husband was laid off.  I then rewarded Si with ice cream cones from the DQ and fun experiences we could have together that was much more cost effective.

6th grade, life has returned to normal as far as work goes, but I have not put back in place the Report Card Pay Outs and this is what I have noticed:  Si seems to be fulfilled with making better grades for his own emotional benefit and he asks me to buy him things all the time that I think are frivolous and he would probably have purchased himself if he had had money.  So he gets downtrodden because I usually say, “No” to which he replies, “I wish I had my own money.”  I have considered going back to paying him for his report card for this reason mainly.

Your Duties Are Chores

I don’t pay Si for chores.  No one will pay you to fold laundry when you are 30.  No one pays you to wash dishes or sweep or dust.  Unless that’s your job, but then your house still has chores waiting for you after that.  So, no pay out for chores.  It’s just what is required from you as a helper in this family.

Every kid is different so for me to tell you what chores your kid should do at each yearly age is just baffling to me, but LUCKILY the internet and other people feel like they should and I used their timelines to help construct chore lists.  Here is an example of one from that I pulled from Pinterest.

Here’s our chore list:

Twelve Year-Old:
-Separates own laundry, turning everything right side out
-Puts away own laundry
-Cleans off dinner table nightly
-Empties dishwasher
-Cleans own room
-Vacuums room weekly
-Cleans own bathroom weekly
-Feeds animals daily
-Takes out trash (all trash in house)
-Puts liners in trash cans

Two Year-Old:
-Helps clean up toys
-Helps empty dishwasher occasionally
-ALWAYS gets to put the soap pod in the dishwasher
-Helps sweep back porch (because he loves it)

I will often throw in random duties for the twelve year-old that arise, but other than these chores I do all the rest because I want to.

Your Effort is Allowance

Ugh, allowance.  Allowance needs to be understood as a noun before it can be implemented as verb.

Webster defines allowance as:
Noun – the amount of something that is permitted, especially within a set of regulations or for a specified purpose.

Synonyms:  permitted amount/quantity, allocation, allotment, quota, share, ration, grant, limit, portion, slice

Verb – give (someone) a sum of money regularly as an allowance.

I do not give the kids allowances.  There, I said it.  You may throw your tomatoes now.  I also choose to not give my twelve year-old a phone. I can hear the boos and hisses, but cut me some slack!  I’m not judging you for it.  It’s just what we do.

I do pay Si to mow our very big yard with a push mower so every two weeks he gets $20 for his effort.  I even have him spread out pre-emergent and fertilizer and soon he will move on to weed-eating duties and general yard maintenance like pulling weeds and trimming hedges.  I choose to go this route because I am trying to instill in him that hard work has a reward, but you are only rewarded based on your effort.  So, if he does a bad job and I have to go back and hit all the places he missed then I don’t pay him!  When he does a good job, he gets paid for the work and when he does a very good job I might even reward him with a trip to Sonic for a drink.

I don’t really have a pay scale for other yard work because this will be the first year he does more, but I am thinking of going with something like this:

$20 Mow Yard – Which includes picking up trash/pine cones/limbs/rocks from yard and sweeping off the porches and sidewalks when complete.
$5 Limb Haul Off
$10 Flower Bed Clean Up
$10 Pre-emerge
$10 Fertilizer
$10 Spray Weeds
I want him to have something he can visibly see the fruits of his labor.  I want him to feel pride for having a well maintained yard.  I want him to feel the power of hard work in his heart.  I want this yard to inspire him.

That being said, let’s revisit the fact that this boy-child is twelve years old and probably will complain about the heat, the size of the yard, and the general labor of it all and I will have to somewhat force him to start and finish his work. BUT I hope and pray that he finds the value and pride in it when his pockets are full of my/his hard-earned dollars.

Raising children is an uncertain thing; success is reached only after a life of battle and worry.
– Democritus

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