I have a confession to make – I am a lazy parent. I let the boys get away without doing chores, I buy them things all the time, and unless they are actively fighting, I pretty much let them do as they please. Somehow they’ve turned out OK so far, they’re polite and well behaved. But, I have spoiled them. They tend to think that playing video games is a right, that money is unlimited, and that they can have treats whenever they want. Not cool. So, my husband and I have instituted a few changes.
We love our boys and want them to grow up into productive members of society. We don’t want to spoil them, but we also don’t want to be hypocrites and not spend any money on them or give them nothing when my husband and I get whatever we want. So, we’ve decided that they’ll have daily chores. They will be able to do special chores for 50 cents each if they want money. Anything above and beyond the norm they must pay for themselves – ice cream from the ice cream truck, toys when it’s not their birthday or Christmas, Slurpees from 7-11, stuff like that. I will provide clothes and food, toys at holidays, and an occasional treat. They must do chores and earn money for anything else. My occasional treats for them are going to be smaller as well. Rather than buying the eldest a new video game “just because”, I’ll buy him one book, or a figurine for his Skylanders game. He’ll have to wait for Christmas or his birthday to get a big present. This will keep me from getting carried away as well. After all, it’s not their fault they get just about everything they want. I’m the one who buys it for them.
Because my husband and I are getting ready to sell the house within the next year and a half and pay off the work that we’re having done to it, we are foregoing a lot of toys for us and junk spending. There’s no reason the kids can’t know that we have plans for the money and aren’t going to throw it away on unnecessary things. In fact, it’d be good for them to know that we are having to save up money to move and to pay down the debt again. Maybe they’ll understand that even the parents who have spoiled them in the past need to economize. I want them to learn that it takes dedication and sacrifice to dig yourself out of a hole. It’s easier to just not get into the hole to begin with.
So far they have taken the news in stride. They have gladly done the chores when they got home from school because they know they can’t get on electronics until the chores are done. We have also created a time limit on their electronics use. They are to get off at the same time every day no matter how long it took them to do their chores. No surprises. Granted, it’s been less than a week so far, and I’m sure we’ll start getting complaints soon enough, but for now, it’s working.
Those changes may not be all that’s needed, but they are a good start. The older boy is testing his limits – he wants to be treated like an older boy than he is. This might make him realize that older boys have to work harder for their toys. I’m hoping it will make them appreciate their things more if they have to buy them. They will get the basics from us and won’t want for food, clothing, housing, or any of the necessaries. And they will still get the occasional trip to the used bookstore or cookie in their lunchbox, but the cookies will be homemade and they might have to help make them. 🙂