Of chapter books and chores

Recently, Maia started reading chapter books. I’ve been encouraging her to try reading something which she didn’t have to finish within five minutes but, until recently, she still preferred to read her Charlie and Lola or her library books, ignoring the thicker books piling up on her bookshelf.

After enough nagging encouragement, she decided she would buy (using her own money) a Geronimo Stilton book, which seem to be all the rage on the islands right now. I was thrilled, even though I end up re-reading to her each chapter she would have already read so she can understand the puns and little jokes with which the book is littered. Then she bought a Little Stars book, again using her own money. Then we happened to be in a bookshop again and she bought a couple of pens she liked. Then, yesterday, she used the last of her purse money (which is usually given to her by doting grandparents whenever they visit) to buy Robin a bath book and two markers for herself, because five pencil cases bursting with pens and markers are not enough.

It took me a while, but yesterday I realised that she needs to start understanding the value of money. Sure, she knows that a Euro is made up of a hundred cents and can confidently buy items and pay for them herself, spreading her coins on the shop counter and counting them out while the sales assistant waits patiently. What she doesn’t seem to understand is that, in life, we need to work for our money. Well, most of us do and unless she opts to become a kept lady (banish the thought!), she’ll eventually have to work for her own money too.

She might not wash the floors well yet but she really helped when I was unwell.

So I decided to start putting her enthusiasm (on a good day) to help around the house to good use. Most days, out of boredom I’m sure, she begs me to let her help me cook or wash the floor or do other chores she considers to be fun. I have to admit I’m not good with letting go and allowing her to help. I like the floors washed properly, with all the crumbs collected. I clean the kitchen while I’m cooking. I always end up redoing whatever she does and I hate that because it reminds me of when I was a child her age. I remember clearly begging my mum to help her dust the furniture, only to have her go over whatever I’d have done, putting her statuettes and ornaments back in exactly the same spot she usually put them. I felt like a failure each time and I realise that I’m doing the same mistake with Maia.

So, in a bid to instil more confidence in my little helper and also teach her she doesn’t need to squander all her money on books (something I secretly approve of, having done the same throughout my twenties), I’ve put a price tag on a few chores I’m ok with letting her help me with. Her reaction was one of outrage at her ‘salary’ being less than a Euro for most chores. As I said, she needs to learn the value of money…

Our going rates…

Do you reward your children with money (or in some other way) when they help around the house? What are your thoughts about using money as a reward? I was never rewarded for doing chores so I don’t know if I’m doing it right!



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  1. When I got older my brother and I had chores to do around the house… dusting, vacuuming, cleaning up our bedrooms etc… My parents didn’t have a ‘price list’ but just gave us a set amount of allowance each month. They tried to teach us the value of money by creating jars. We’d have to put a portion of our allowance each month into our bank account, another portion for collection at church and another portion was for us to do what we wanted with. Good idea, but unfortunately it didn’t really stick. We kept doing chores and kept getting our allowance but slowly we just did whatever we wanted with ALL the allowance each week haha

  2. I was raised with expected chores and a weekly allowance. With our children, we had expected chores, but only began giving them an allowance in high school (around 15 or 16 yrs old) when their homework and sports load did not allow for an outside job.

    Each son was expected to clean two rooms in the house (kitchen and laundry, family room and bathroom, hall & foyer, dining room and living room) as well as their bedrooms. If they only cleaned the public space and not their room, they did not get paid ($5 per room). We eventually phased out of the allowance because I wanted them to figure out the cost to earn funds as well as budgeting.

    But, when my boys were the age of Maia, they were expected to clean up their toys, help with setting the table, after dinner clean up, some cooking, laundry and outside work with their dad.

    Mostly, though, we started with a life time goal and tried to work back to how to make it habit, i.e. – wanting to raise men that knew how to cook, clean and care for their families (& not expect their wives to do it all).

    I also agree with Angela – laying out a format for where the money should go it a great idea. Get them into the habit of tithing and saving.

    You’re on the right track. 🙂

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