Boy, can I tell my kids aren't babies any more when I start being asked about pocket money!
Orlando (nearly 7) said the other day "If I help you with this dish washer, maybe you could give me some pocket money and I could buy this Lego Boat I want from the shops..."
I had a stirring of some very conflicting thoughts and emotions...
I asked him... "How does pocket money work?"
O - "Well I help you with jobs around the house and then you give me some money to buy things that I want to buy."
Me - "Oh that sounds nice... so can I have pocket money for the jobs that I do around the house?"
O - "But you already have money, I only have the money I get from my teeth" (there are a lot falling out at the moment)
This got me thinking... my kids rarely ask for things from the shop. They don't nag, so when they see something really special, I ask them to tell me about why it is so important to them and then I would usually buy it for them. But Orlando hadn't asked me to buy it. He wanted to buy it, with his own money.
This isn't something I wanted to overlook, to me it is an indication that he is wanting to take responsibility for some things, to feel a bit more grown up.
A few years ago we had agreed to swap money for jobs - he chose 4 jobs that he would do each day and got an agreed amount of money at the end of the week. He would choose things like putting everyone's bed side lamps on at dusk and setting the table etc. It never felt right. I thought he should be doing these things anyway and I felt like I was bribing him with money.
It got me thinking about how we could make this work in an authentic and meaningful way. I like the idea of both the kids being able to have some say in what we buy. To want something enough to save up for it. To get some supported experience in how to use money.
I went back to my tried and true thought ... "How does it work in the adult world?"
Well I get an allowance from the family budget, as does Nath. The kids don't get one, it is sort of combined with mine, as I usually spend all of mine on them anyway.
We get this allowance whether or not we got our 'jobs' done at home. If the house is messy and the washing un-done, I still get my allowance. I feel conscious of not pulling my weight but I still get it.
This made me think... I am a responsible and considerate member of a family. We work together as a unit. As a respected member of this family, I get an allowance. I also respect the other members of my family enough to participate in the running of the household.
This could work just as well with the kids. They are also respected members of our family, and thus deserve to have an allowance each week, that they can make decisions about.
They also need, as respectful and considerate members of this family, to contribute to the running of the house hold. If they don't then we deal with that... as a separate issue, not linked to the money at all.
This feels SO much better to me, and seems, thus far, to be working. I'll let you know in a year when we've given it a good run!!