Colin entered my room calmly, came to the side of my bed and posed this thoughtful question in a serious manner. I agreed, and he laid out his plan. You see, over the last two weeks he has been yearning for a certain Lego toy he saw in his Lego magazine. He originally asked us to buy it for him, but we quickly explained that we don't buy things whenever we want just because we want it. We first have to have the money to buy it, and if we don't, we have to save up. I recommended he put it on his list for his birthday/Christmas.
But then I felt a little bad, because, of course, his birthday and Christmas both come in the same month, which just passed, which means another 11 months before that comes around again. And I could see how hard that would be for a six year old.
After we said we wouldn't buy it, he said he would save up his money. He opened his piggy bank and counted the few dollars that were in there. And I felt a little bad again, because we don't do allowances yet, and now is not exactly a good time for me to start enforcing new ideas around the home.
Anyway, back to Colin in my bedroom, and his request for a chat. In a manner that showed he had put much thought into the matter, he laid out his plan: he asked if he could do some big chores around the house to earn some money, in order to save up to buy his toy.
Well, he hit it on the head of the nail. There are many different methods parents use for allowance, but the one James and I like most is that there are "family chores" the boys will be expected to do because they are a part of the family: keeping their rooms clean and the play room tidied, and, as they grow, sharing part in things like cleaning the bathroom, dishes, laundry, etc. But we will also use a "money chore" list - a list of bigger chores around the house that need doing, and that have an assigned money worth to them. At any time, the kids will be allowed to choose from that list to earn money.
I told Colin I'd think about some money chores. It's hard, because he is only six and isn't strong enough or big enough for bigger tasks. And the smaller ones are ones he does as family chores. Then I realized this would be a good opportunity for some long neglected chores to get done, ones that have been missed because I'm ill and James is so busy.
So now, once a week, Colin can choose to wash the kitchen floor (water, vinegar and a scrubby sponge), wash the bathroom floor, or vacuum the stairs. All three never get done with the regularity we'd wish. A perfect symbiotic relationship!
He's so eager to start right away, but we had to convince him to wait until Saturday to be shown how to do it and what level of quality is expected to earn the money. But he's a good little worker, and I have no doubt he'll get to it! He's a great example for his younger brothers, also.