My kids are good kids. Smart kids. Capable kids. Yet I have been treating them like little entitled princes without realizing it.
Until recently, I have had to beg them to make their own beds. I had to scream at them to pick up their toys. I would find their dirty socks under the couch and their legos in the corners of their rooms. I would tell them over and over again to pick up their dishes and put away their school stuff. They didn't help in the kitchen unless we are making cookies. I would beg them to feed the dog and they would forget and the dog would starve. They would see a cheap toy in the store and I would go ahead and buy it for them that moment. But all along I thought I was being such a great parent. Does this sound anything like your life?
So I watch the news and there are all of these arguments/discussions about our new entitlement society where people don't want to work yet want to receive free stuff. I looked at my husband and said "You know, that is our boys!". And it suddenly hit me; the President/government are not creating these lazy, entitled adults. The government is not raising our kids; we are, and how they turn out as adults has everything to do with how we raise them as children.
What really convinced me to change my parenting method was a simple trip to Barnes and Noble where I found this amazing book: Cleaning House: A Mom's Twelve-Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement. This is probably one of the best parenting book I have ever read and I finished it in one evening.
Quoted from the book: "Do your kids expect clean folded clothes to magically appear in their drawers? Do they roll their eyes when you suggest they clean the bathroom? By racing in to make their lives easy, have you unintentionally reinforced your children's belief that the world revolves around them? Dismayed at the attitude of entitlement that had crept into her home, Kay Wyma got some attitude of her own." I answered yes to all of those questions and I decided to get some of my own attitude.
You have to read this book because Kay has so many great ideas to get your kids off their lazy rear ends and learn basic life skills and the ways "meaningful work can increase earned self-confidence and concern for others". I think Jillian Michaels says something in 30 Day Shred about we can do so much more than we think we are capable of doing. And our kids are so much more capable than many of us probably realize. We just have to be patient and teach them.
Kay mentioned this idea of putting thirty $1 bills in a jar for each child at the beginning of each month. To keep the money, the kids have to do daily chores. If they don't do their daily chores you take a dollar out at the end of the day. For some reasons people generally work harder to keep their money than to earn it (I didn't know this but found it true with my boys).
To keep their daily dollar my boys must make their beds before breakfast and clean their rooms and the common areas of their toys/books/projects before going to bed. They must also put away all of their own laundry after helping me sort and wash it. They must take care of the dog and cat. And now that I know what they are capable of doing, I will gradually add more daily chores each month.
Kay suggests giving the earned money to the kids for spending money, but I worked out something even better for our family. They have to take 10% off the top to save for their favorite charity (they will pick one every six months). The rest is divided in half; with one half going to their savings account for college/car and the other half for spending on things they want now (toys, ice cream, mini golf, books, etc.). So at minimum $3/month to charity, $13.50/month to savings and $13.50/month for spending money.
Birthday and Christmas money is thrown in the jar that month and divided along with the rest. And they can earn extra dollars if they want. Weeding, cleaning bathrooms, vacuuming the stairs, etc. can earn them a dollar or two which is thrown in the jar. Bored, just ask mom for a chore to earn some extra money! And the boys are learning those dollars can really add up.
When we started this experiment I found out that Imp (who is 5) can in record time clean three toilets until they are spotless. Duke and Imp can vacuum all of the rugs/carpeting. Duke can sort and wash/dry laundry. Imp can scramble all of the eggs for breakfast and add just enough salt/pepper/spices to make them delicious. Duke can make our afternoon Keurig coffee and add just the proper amount of cream. Imp can help make muffins and put all of the breakfast dishes into the dishwasher. Duke can vacuum the two flights of stairs and steam mop the bathroom floors. Both Imp and Duke can help Daddy fix things around the house and do yard work. Who knew?
I get so busy with being a mom, homeschooler, and working at home that my housework/yard work really suffers. I even called a few maid and lawn services and received quotes for bimonthly house and yard cleaning. But when I calculated the yearly cost I went into sticker shock and reminded myself my mother would never have hired a maid or lawn men. Why? Because she had us!
Suddenly with excitement I realized I could pay my kids to help me keep the house spotless and the yard beautiful for a fraction of the cost of a paid service. It is frustrating at first because I had to be patient and teach them the proper techniques, but once they learn they do a great job and are also at the same time learning basic life skills. I don't want to raise future men who don't know how to cook, clean, do yard work, or fix basic household things. After all, they might very well marry an entitled young woman who can't take care of herself, let alone them (and their future kids). ;-)
I was second-guessing myself about the money part of this since I think kids should do daily chores and not expect to get paid. But once I realized how hard kids will work to keep their money and earn more, I realized raising my own little capitalists who work hard, know how to save, AND donate money to charities is not all bad. I would probably spend the money on them otherwise, but this way they learn the importance of saving and I have already seen them think twice about purchasing junk when they have to use their own money.
So back to my initial point. If my kids grow up as entitled adults, it is not the government's fault. No, the blame lies on my husband and me. I want my kids to grow up to be hard-working, caring individuals who will hopefully take care of themselves and also help those in need. And if my house and yard are cleaner and my husband and I are happier, then so be it!
Happy New Year!!!
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