Last week I met with a lovely woman and a mother of 2 boys, 7 and 10 years. This family with a very fast life tempo lives in the heart of London, with the mother being an artist and the father a musician.
Our conversation got especially intriguing on the topic of pocket money. I, of course, wanted to know how they had solved this tricky situation and how much is given out in their family.
It turned out that pocket money was given once a week or when the boys asked for it. But there was no specific amount, which meant that whatever cash they had on them got divided between the boys.
She also had some dissatisfaction in the family life, as she did all chores in the household. If she didn’t do it, it didn’t get done.
My advice on what to do got her really excited and she couldn’t wait until the boys went to bed, so she could surprise the 2 in the morning with a fun letter in their porridge bowl on the new pocket money redemption system.
Easiest tasks to give to children, in this case, are (doesn’t matter if they are girls or boys):
* Getting to that messy sock drawer and pairing socks (leftovers socks without a partner can be pulled over hands and used as a dust rag).
* Sorting laundry into piles and loading the washing machine (of course make sure woollen items and silk are separated), hanging clothes, folding clothes (teach them how to fold clothes). And then placing everything in correct drawers/wardrobes,
* Ironing – this would depend on the child. You can teach them how to iron clothes (the family I worked for for years had a 7-year-old who took care of the ironing and the younger ones helped to fold and sort).
* Vacuuming and mopping the floor.
* Make a weekly list on who helps you on what day, and once a week let the child(ren) decide the menu for the day (even if it ends up being sandwiches or pizza).
* Washing/drying dishes and placing them back in the cupboards.
* Taking care of shoes, to ensure everything is clean and sorted for the next day (everyone can tend to their own shoes).
* Picking out clothes for the next day.
* Toy-sorting. Give them 30 minutes to choose 10 of their current favourite toys which they wish to keep, and for the rest decide together whether to donate it, to keep it, or throw the broken ones away.
* Sorting out clothes that either no longer fit or are worn out (my own experience shows this to be one of their favourite activities).
NB! List some as weekly tasks, and some that change every week. For example, shovelling snow or sorting clothes need doing once a month (make a list which tasks are monthly and which seasonal).
To ensure everything works, mom/dad needs to make a schedule as to who does what and when to ensure not all chores end up being on a Sunday evening and that these are divided between different days.
Smaller children around 5-6 years old are motivated by collecting stickers which amount to a prize (whether it’s a surprise egg or going to the movies), but it needs to be something that motivates the child.
Older children 7+ are often more motivated by money, and it can be hard to decide how much to give if to give anything at all. The given amount depends on the family but of course, I advise to be reasonable. For example, if a child is 7, then perhaps you can make it so that every year they will get a little more. I advise to divide 7 Euros over a week, which means that the child gets their pocket money once the chores are done. If something is not completed, then you can take the amount for that chore off the total.
And to those who now think that their teenagers aged 15+ would consider 15 Euros a joke, then make a list of additional tasks that they can do to earn a little extra. Be creative and help them make an advert to walk neighbouring dogs for some extra money. Or if your child loves to knit or do other handicraft, then help them create a mini-firm, or research together for markets where to sell handicraft (Christmas markets, regularly held markets etc.). Grandparents also love to give their grandchildren pocket money, but it would be a greater motivation for the child if grandparents and friends buy their work and in that way invest in it.
I would still advise keeping money meant for school trips separate. This can be decided on the occasion and on the trip.
When starting to give out pocket money, teach your child how to use the money well and perhaps put some completely on the side as savings, so a sum can be used in the future, either on going to university or for a bigger investment. Teach the child to dream big and help them realise that dreams do not have to stay dreams. If a child wants something but you refuse to buy it as you may think it’s a waste of money, then teach them how to save up their own pocket money and spend it on the item that they really want. That way they will learn to evaluate their own needs and whether they actually want it.
Teaching children the value of money and how much they need to work to earn it, you create a strong base that can save them from future traps of payday loans, credit cards and bank loans with great interests.
Photo in this post is by the same mother and those were the little surprises the 2 boys received in their porridge bowls.
The result – mom/dad are happy, children will put in the effort to earn pocket money and the household works as a small business.
Do not grow snow-flakes, but rather teach them independence.