When you think of the “buddy system”, you may picture a scene from the 90’s classic “Heavyweights”. For your own amusement (and mine) here is the clip from the movie.
Thankfully, today’s teachable moment is MUCH less dysfunctional (and sliiightly safer).
After the great feedback I received from Kristen’s teachable moment “How to Teach Your Children That it’s NOT an “Allowance”, I’m excited to add a new installment on this topic of children, chores and money.
This is the ninth interview in an ongoing series called “Teaching Your Children About Money”.
Today, we’ll be hearing from Rebekah, a mother of four, who tried many different ways of conducting chores, until she found a shoe that fit. She is diligent, selfless, and is one of the hardest working people I know. I am delighted to add that she is my sister-in-law. I’ve loved learning from her example, and today I’m sure you will too.
Please tell us a little about yourself and your family.
My name is Rebekah and I have been married to my wonderful husband, Luke, for 12 years. We have been blessed with four beautiful, healthy, energetic children aged 10, 7, 5 and 3. My childhood dream came true and I have the privilege of being a full time wife and stay at home mom. I am currently homeschooling three of our children, which takes up most of my time!
What teachable moment regarding your children and money would you like to share?
We have tried (and failed) so many approaches to teaching our kids about money and giving them chores and responsibilities. I’ve spent hours making elaborate boards with clips and cards with chores on them, tried stickers or paid the kids for each job accomplished. Each time it was fun and exciting at first, but the excitement wore off. Once again, it felt like more nagging and bribing was going on than actual teaching.
I think you just have to find what works for your family, but most importantly, be intentional and consistent. I had been reading a lot of articles recently about teaching your children responsibility and money management. It is something my husband and I really desire for our children to grasp, do better than what we have, and start at a younger age than we did.
For us, what works best is a buddy system (yep, I’m 19 Kids & Counting fan). We pair one of our older kids up with one of our younger kids for the week and they are buddies. Each morning they have their responsibilities. Some stay the same each day, and some vary depending on what jobs need tackled.
Daily: As needed:
Get dressed Clean, sort & put away laundry
Brush teeth Garden work
Wash face Vacuum
Make bed Sweep
Clean room Dust
Wipe down sinks and toilets Trash
Empty the dishwasher Etc….
It is the older kid’s responsibility to teach and motivate the younger kids to stay on task. This buddy system works great because it frees me up so I don’t have to follow the younger ones around each morning, making sure they are staying on task. But it also gives the older boys a chance to practice some leadership skills and work as a team.
We decided not to pay our kids for each chore they do because we want them to contribute because they are a part of this family. We do have a list of other jobs around the house that the kids can do to earn some extra money.
We do give our kids an allowance every Friday IF they contributed and did their part! We decided to pay them half their age. They each have three jars: Giving, Savings and Spending. So each Friday, 10% goes into giving, 40% into savings and 50% into Spending.
My most recent “teachable moment” happened today while we were at Target. My five-year-old found a superhero toy that he didn’t have enough spending money for. We had been at some yard sales earlier in the day and he spent some of his spending fund on a few items. So when he found the superhero toy, he didn’t have enough money.
It would have been so easy for me to spare a few dollars and brighten his day, but I knew this was one of those times where he needed to learn that once he spent his money, that was it. No exceptions. He really wants a scooter and I am trying to teach him that if he keeps spending his money on little things he thinks he wants now, he will never build up enough money to purchase what he really wants later. It was a good reminder for me also, when I think I need something now and there is not enough in my spending account! I had to ask myself am I really practicing what I teach?
What is the most rewarding part of the experience for you?
My favorite part is hearing them talk and brainstorm about how they are going to use their giving fund to help someone in need out. We really desire for each of our children to have a servant’s heart and experience the joy that it brings when you serve and bless others, and to see how God can use them at a young age.
Our oldest son is already dreaming about his first vehicle. He’s planning to save money to buy some vehicles or projects that need work, fix them up, sell them and keep doing that until he can buy the truck he really wants. I think he’s been watching and learning from his dad! I love that they are already dreaming and setting financial goals.
My children do not always work well together and believe me, they have their share of bickering, but it is so rewarding when they do work joyfully together, and you hear them giggling and having fun even while doing chores.
What is the most challenging part of the experience for you?
One of the most challenging things for me as a parent is knowing what chores my younger children are capable of. It’s so much easier to just do it yourself than follow the little ones around the house and walk them through each responsibility. I have learned with a little extra effort, they are capable of so much more than we think. And they actually love when they are included and can contribute to helping run the house more efficiently.
I think people thrive when they know others see potential in them, so why not start as young as possible? The buddy system helps out a lot with this issue and even if they are too young for some of the jobs, they are still learning by watching others.
Other challenging areas:
I think that’s one of the most challenging parts of parenting, but it is so worth it. It is so much easier to do it yourself while the kids are still asleep or to fix it after they are finished with the job if they didn’t do it the way you particularly like. But I have learned to let a lot of that go. It really doesn’t take that long for you to walk beside them a few times and teach them the right way of doing it.
Motivating the kids.
Most things are exciting the first few days, but it doesn’t take long before they become boring and mundane so it can be a challenge to positively motivate the kids to stay on task and not make a list that should take 20 minutes turn into a 2 hour ordeal! I have learned that staying positive and being encouraging works so much better, but takes a little more work and patience on my part! It also helps to tell the kids what they did a great job with or if you noticed them doing a good job leading their buddy or listening to their buddy that day. It is so much easier to point out what others did wrong rather than right.
When you were a child, what was your favorite money moment?
I started cleaning and babysitting as soon as I could to earn some money, but those jobs were on a as needed basis. When I was 14, I was hired to babysit full time for a family for the summer. It was the first time that I had a consistent income, and I was able to save a good portion of that.
My best friend’s family invited me to come along on a trip with them to Florida. I was so excited to be invited! I’d never been to Florida! My parents agreed, as long as I could pay my own way. That was a great experience for me because not only did it show me how much things cost, but it gave me a great opportunity to manage my money while on the trip and make it last for the week. It also gave me a greater appreciation for my parents and all they’d done for me.
Let’s say a young couple with a newborn sits beside you on a bus. They lean over and ask you, “What are the three most important things we should teach our child about money?” What do you tell them?
- Teach them that it’s not theirs but something God has entrusted them with! Nothing in life is guaranteed, except eternity and all should be surrendered to God.
- Be intentional! Teach them to honor God with what he has given them, whether large or small. And be intentional with it by giving, saving and how they spend their money.
- Stay out of debt! Teach them that life isn’t about instant gratification and how dangerous debt is and how easy it is to fall into. Allow them to dream, teach them to work for their money and encourage them to make financial goals, even at a young age.
This article is part of an ongoing series called “Teaching Your Children About Money”. If you have a teachable moment to share, please feel free to tell me about it at lauraharris(at)piggybankdreams(dot)com.
Join the Discussion: What other forms of accountability during chores are there in addition to the buddy system?