Allowance and chores

by Seattle Soccer Mom

I thought it would be fun to compare notes on how much allowance kids receive, what (if anything) they have to do to receive it, and whether they have to save parts of the allowance for long-term savings or charitable donations. I also thought it would be interesting to share info on what kids do for chores (I often learn that my kids are capable of much more than I’d been asking them to do).

Here’s what we do:

Allowance: 11 year old DS receives $5 a week. He doesn’t have to do anything to get his allowance but does have to do chores (see below). 16 year old DD has to do dishes 4 times in order to earn her $10 allowance. We added this requirement last year when it was hard to tell if DD genuinely didn’t have time to do the dishes because of homework or if she was just trying to get out of doing the dishes.

Both kids can spend their allowance however they want; we don’t make them put part of it towards long-term savings or charitable donations. DD is naturally a saver and doesn’t spend much. DS is a natural spender and doesn’t save much. The only time DS has intentionally saved money was when he was saving up to buy a mini-iPad. This was a good experience for him. Most of the other things DS wants are inexpensive – either hotwheel cars or songs on iTunes.

Chores: Both kids are responsible for doing their own laundry and putting it away although “putting it away” is loosely defined. DS shoves his clothes in his drawers (no folding involved). DD keeps her clothes in the laundry basket or strewn about her room (she has both a bureau and a closet but does not seem to make much use of them). I’ve decided that as long as I don’t have to deal with their clothes, I don’t care.

Both kids have to unload the dishwasher and put their dirty dishes in the dishwasher. DD has to do dishes after dinner. In the summer, each kid has to cook dinner once a week. We have a housecleaner who comes every two weeks; the kids are responsible for making sure their rooms are clean enough to be vacuumed and that they’ve put out clean sheets. If they fail to do so, then on the weekend, they get to pick up their rooms, vacuum, and change their own sheets.

DH would like the kids to help out with yard work but he keeps hoping they will naturally volunteer on their own. I have told him pigs will fly before that happens and he needs to tell the kids he wants their help rather than making it an optional activity.


120 thoughts on “Allowance and chores

  1. We have a housecleaner who comes every two weeks; the kids are responsible for making sure their rooms are clean enough to be vacuumed and that they’ve put out clean sheets.

    You change the sheets every two weeks?

  2. We give the kids $1 per year of age per week, paid monthly. So 14 year old DS gets $56 a month and 13 year old DD gets $52. They have chores to do (probably not nearly as many as they should) but they are not tied together. Everyone has to help out because they are part of the family, and everyone gets some spending money because they are part of the family.

    DS tends to be a bit spendthrift with his money, but last month he actually put money in the bank because “If I keep it, I’ll just blow it.” DD is a bit more frugal, but she doesn’t save a ton either.

  3. You change the sheets every two weeks?

    How often do people wash or change their sheets? We probably do it about every 3 weeks.

  4. Great post SSM.

    Our kids get a base allowance of $6 each. We tell them this is just a transfer of wealth from us to them, and they are required to use it for all the dumb little things in life – $$ in video games, candy bars, trinkets at Target, etc.. It’s not really tied to chores, BUT we have a weekly cleaning person. If they do not pick up their rooms and she has to do it in order to vacuum, dust, etc., and if they don’t put their laundry away, then they have to leave their allowance for her, as payment for the extra work they’ve given her.

    On regular chores, they are expected to daily be good citizens of the house. Rinse and put your own dishes in the dishwasher, feed/help exercise the dogs, take out the recycling if someone asks you to, etc. These are not set in stone and are just daily as-needed things.

    Then if they want to earn more than their base allowance, there are tons of things around the house I’m willing to pay them to do (mostly deep cleaning activities) but they rarely take us up on this.

  5. We never tied allowance to chores. If they were breathing at the end of the week they earned the payout. The expectation was neat enough rooms and bathroom including putting away clean laundry, helping with dishes, trash, sweeping the hardwoods on the weekend (cleaning lady comes on Wednesdays), sweeping/shoveling the snow off the front walkway, other mundane intra-house errands. We paid extra for some specific things: mowing the lawn, big fall raking, other significant yardwork like mulching, washing cars sometimes — usually they did a crappy job and usually it was just fun for them, especially when I was doing it too because somehow I always ended up getting the wettest.

  6. Here are 3 conversations we’ve had with DS this summer (he just turned 11). I can’t believe we had to have 1 conversation on this topic let alone 3!

    Conversation #1 for which the catalyst was a text from DD saying she’d just discovered DS hadn’t been putting dishwasher detergent in the dishwasher:
    Me: you need to use detergent in the dishwasher.
    DS: I do?
    Me: Yes! (left unsaid was “how could you not know this?”)

    Conversation #2 for which the catalyst was DH using the shower DS uses and finding that it was completely out of soap:
    DH: You need to use soap when you take a shower. If the soap runs out, you need to replace it.
    DS: I do?
    DH: Yes! (left unsaid was a) how could you not possibly know this and b) didn’t we just have a similar discussion a couple weeks ago re: the dishwasher?

    Conversation #3 which took place last night after DS had “washed” the pot the buttered noodles and I then looked at said pot and it was still dirty:
    Me: You need to use hot water and soap when you wash the dishes by hand.
    DS: I do?
    Me: Yes! (left unsaid was “how could you not possibly know this?” and “I can’t believe we’ve now had the same conversation 3 frickin times! I never had to have this conversation with your sister!).

    Maybe I should have DS write an essay about the miracle properties of soap.

  7. Our kids get $1 per year of age, so $15 for DD and $10 for DS. I required $5/week be sent to savings; DS has now asked me to just deposit his whole allowance, since he doesn’t spend anything on a daily basis and already had like $80 secreted throughout his room.

    No chores tied to allowance. Kids expected to set/clear table. My laundry approach is exactly the same as SSM’s, as is my kids’ methods of managing their clothes.

    I have slacked off on requiring chores as schoolwork has ramped up — in MS I was all about having kids help more as “training in adulting,” but HS itself created significant anxiety and school demands, so I let her do stage crew and band and all that and then use her more limited time at home for schoolwork and relaxation. But I still deploy them on an as-needed basis — e.g., when DD gets snarky/anxious but isn’t under an immediate deadline, asking her to make dinner and giving her more responsibility tends to help her feel more in control and grown-up and like she’s helping out. Plus DS now wants to learn how to cook, so I think there’s an opportunity for me to better optimize my available unpaid child labor.

  8. DS (8) does his own laundry, including putting away somewhat sloppily. He also make his bed (also sloppily), clears dishes, sets the table, and wipes down the table after meals. We have a weekly cleaning person, so there isn’t a whole lot else for him to do chores-wise.

    He doesn’t get an allowance. We probably should start that up, but he just isn’t that interested in spending money. He has real trouble making a Xmas/birthday list. Last year, he wanted a PS4, and it was nice to have something that he actually really wanted instead of guessing badly what he might end up liking. When he gets gift money from relatives, he always puts it in his savings account, even though we’ve told him that he can use it to buy baseball cards, video games, or other things that he might want that he didn’t get. He never takes us up on it. I suppose we could give him money just to put in his piggy bank, but it seems silly in a way. It is very rare that he asks us to buy him anything, so generally we oblige when he asks.

    If we did an allowance, it wouldn’t be tied to chores, although we’d probably let him do extra chores to earn extra money.

  9. Unrelated to my long vent about soap (and lack thereof) – DS has to earn all his screen time. We didn’t do this with DD – but I found that DS was racing through his homework and doing a crappy job so he could get his nightly 30 minutes of screen time (and pitching a fit if the homework took too long and he didn’t have time for tv/video games). He now earns 1 minute of screen time for every minute of homework (and the math he did over the summer) which he can either use that evening if there’s time or save up for the weekend. DS also earns screen time by unloading the dishwasher or doing other chores. And this summer, he has earned screen time by exercising (he would happily sit on the couch and read all day). This system has worked pretty well.

  10. Sheets washed/changed weekly by cleaning people. Prior to that, I washed weekly. I can’t go longer than weekly with the sheets.

  11. “You change the sheets every two weeks?”

    *I* never change the sheets. But my cleaners do every other week. :-)

    I forgot to mention, our new Fun With Money experiment is that DD now has an ATM/Debit card. We got it for her for her trip, and, surprise, she has kept it in her wallet since we returned. She is *totally* going to blow through the @$250 she had left by the end of her trip — heck, the night before school, she had me take her to CVS, where she bought $85 worth of makeup (meanwhile, her job as an aide pays about $84/month; my “congratulations, you just worked a month for that” earned a glare and a whine about how little they pay and how she needs a better job [the better job she refuses to actually look for, but that’s another conversation]).

    But, you know, that’s the point of doing it now. It’s her money; if she wants to live large for a month or two and then be back to $10/week + aide money, she can learn what that feels like, and then learn to do it differently if she doesn’t like the result. Not to mention learn all about bank fees. :-)

  12. LfB, that’s exactly it. A couple of months ago, DS blew a stupid amount of money buying upgrades and stuff for one of his videogames (in-game currency type things). A few days later he realized that probably wasn’t a good use of his money. Better to learn that now than later when it could do more damage.

  13. The kids are expected to do a certain baseline of chores: pick up their eating plates and put them in the dishwasher, help with meal prep, set the table, get their dirty clothes into the laundry basket, deal with kitty litter and feeding the cat (on a rotating basis), and pick up their rooms (which they are all utter fails at, particularly DD).

    In addition, they get allowance for more chores. This year, DS1 is expected to to take out the garbage, get the garbage and recyclables to the curb on the proper days, and mow the lawn. He gets $10 a week for this, and is reasonably reliable. DS2 is supposed to keep the dining room clean – table wiped off and nonsticky, floor swept and cleaned, etc. He has been getting $7 for this but I would like to add something else and up him to $10 – more convenient number for me. DD is supposed to clean out the cars every week for $5, but she is hopelessly unreliable so she rarely gets any money, which is for the best because her idea of what to do with $5 is either lose it in the chaos of her room or spend it all on gum which she then chews in huge wads for one day.

  14. Seattle: We’ve had the same conversation with DS about using shampoo when he washes his hair. Also, the magical properties of deodorant. I think it’s a teenaged boy thing.

    We transfer to our kids $100 each month as an allowance. The allowance has been the same for years and is not tied to chores. However, the kids are expected to take out the trash, put away their dirty dishes, mow the lawn, and help with seasonal lawn care (clean out gutters, mulch, etc.) as needed.

    Both kids are fairly frugal, and I don’t think they’ve ever tapped their allowance. We pay for most items–we buy the cell phone, cell phone plan, gaming devices, school lunches, and video games. They only pay if they go out with friends, and they use birthday money or money earned from babysitting for that.

  15. DS gets a quarter in his piggy bank when I think of it which is next to never. Though when he gets money for holidays, I throw a dollar or 2 in there. His godmother loves to send him a dollar for Valentine’s Day or Halloween.

    We are working on helping mommy/daddy/grandma cleaning up our legos by putting them in their storage bag. He’s good at getting them out of his toy chest, asking/demanding that you open the bag, and then proceeding to create chaos. We are trying to teach him that even though the Universe abhors order and moves towards chaos, our house does not.

  16. I changed from giving DS cash for his allowance to tracking it on a spreadsheet. This is much easier for me. And since a lot of DS’s spending is for either ITunes songs or Xbox in-game purchases which he can’t use cash for as they get charged to our credit cards, he doesn’t need much cash. I also track his spending on my spreadsheet.

    DD has a debit card and her bank account is linked to ours. This is nice because if she needs something that we’re willing to pay for (e.g. new soccer ball, clothes for back to school), she can pay for it with her debit card and then we reimburse her by transferring funds to her account. I like this system because it means a) I don’t have to go with her to the mall and b) I don’t have to guess how much it’s going to cost and hunt down cash to give her. For clothes shopping, we reach an agreement on how much we will reimburse her ahead of time. She’s welcome to spend more but we will only reimburse up to a certain dollar amount.

  17. I make my kids use iTunes and Nintendo gift cards for in-app purchases. That way, I can pre-limit the spending, and not have to track things. Also, these gift cards make good suggested presents for birthdays, Christmas, etc.

  18. Rhode, as mentioned on a prior thread, I intend to stop giving an allowance when my kids graduate from college.

  19. Houston – will your kids get a raise in college? I don’t remember how much you planned on (though I remember the number $400 a month being bounced around).

    How did you come to your allowance amount? It seems that you still pay for a lot of their expenses, which is awesome, so I wonder what they do spend their allowance on? And you also mention babysitting – do you encourage them to get a job in HS?

  20. Kid gets 100 in kids bank account from both me and DH. Not using it at all since kid is only 4. I really need to transfer all that money in some investment vehicle.

    Speaking of house cleaners, I have had the worst luck. I haven’t found one yet who is both good at her (mostly her) job and is reliable. The one that I like and who came with family members to help, is such a flake. Everyone else I have tried don’t do good enough job. The last one I tried declared that she does not do dishes (what few are in the sink) and asked me if I wanted her to clean the stove.
    I would love to have sheets changed, baseboards wiped down and blinds wiped. That costs more probably. That gets me to the question for those who have cleaners come in every other week, how much do they charge per room when they are changing the sheets and etc?

  21. Rhode: The $100 per month is not my doing. DH is totally behind it. Why that number? Just because he likes giving money to the kids. They save 100% of their allowance, so they will have a tidy chunk of change for college expenses. We plan to pay $400 per month for college, but the kids will have to buy stuff that we now cover, such as some clothes, toiletries, club fees, etc.

    The kids receive their video games and cell phones, etc. as birthday and Christmas presents. And birthday cash. They get lots of gift cards.

    Older DS babysits for one family. He’s not very enterprising. However, his cash needs are so low that he only needs one gig to meet his needs. He does not have a regular job in high school.

    My kids have an easy life. However, they work hard, get good grades, and do any work we ask them to do without complaint and immediately. For these reasons, we are happy to be generous.

  22. Houston – didn’t mean to imply anything negative. It’s just such a different model from mine family or DH’s that I really was just curious.

  23. Absolutely 0 negativity taken and 0 snark meant in my post. We have a different approach and I’m happy to explain it.

  24. I love these posts because I’m so interested in how parents come up with so many different teaching tools.

    BTW, was running w/another middle school mother this week. She has 2 in middle school, and is appalled that we told DS he would have to pay for part of the trip if he wanted to go. She is requiring hers to go, even the one that doesn’t really want to, because she thinks its an important opportunity. Just shows there’s not one right or wrong way.

  25. You guys are pretty generous and my 8 year old kids seem pretty lazy in comparison!

    We give $1.25 to each kid per week, if they ask for it, and 50 cents a week to a charity jar and 50 cents per week a college jar. (Usually I just empty the change from my wallet at the end of the week.) At year end they get to choose which charity gets our donation. The college jar funds go into their 529s at year end. (We also contribute monthly to their 529 accounts, but the kids don’t know that.)

    They have to clear their places after each meal, keep their room tidy (enough for our housekeeper to vacuum), put laundry away and otherwise help with chores when asked. Usually that means emptying the dishwasher or taking the trash/recycling out or picking up their socks which seem to sprout up everywhere.

    In our most recent negotiation, I also agreed to give them a dollar for each percentage of Khan math they complete. Complete 2% of 4th grade math, get $2 dollars.

    They pay for any new games/apps on the iphone and in-game upgrades. One also likes to buy snacks and candy, the other is a saver. I usually split a once a week icecream splurge with them. Otherwise they’re saving up for a PS4 or some other gaming system.

    We are terrible about limiting screen time. They are good kids, get good grades and during school, participate in 1 after school activity and one weekend class (swimming/karate), but definitely have a pretty easy life.

  26. “My kids have an easy life. However, they work hard, get good grades, and do any work we ask them to do without complaint and immediately. For these reasons, we are happy to be generous.”

    I totally get this. I feel like we are the same way – my kid has an easy life. Is part of the reason he doesn’t want anything because his life is cushy already, because he is just not that into “stuff” or both? I wonder if it matters in the long run HOW we are generous. Allowance vs. just saying yes/providing everything needed and most wants. I know allowance is a vehicle to teach money lessons, I just don’t know how effective it is overall. I wonder how much it depends on the kid & his/her tendencies.

    @Dell – we pay $80/week for a 2-person team for a 1400 sq ft, 2BR/2BA condo. It takes them less than 2 hours. The every other week price was $100 because it would be dirtier with longer time between cleanings. They change/wash sheets and do baseboards weekly. We lay out the spare sheets, they put them on, wash the ones from the bed, and leave the clean, folded set for the next week. Blinds & ceiling fans they seem to do periodically – not every week. They do not move heavy furniture like beds/dressers. They do not scrub out the inside of the oven or the fridge unless a deep clean is requested. I request a deep clean once a year or so – the owner never has charged me extra for it, probably because we’ve had them for over 5 years and always pay/never complain.

  27. Rhett – If I remember, the kids’ sheets probably get washed twice a month. Ours are switched weekly (by our housekeeper). Our housekeeper does not do laundry or windows and any deep dive cleaning -like cleaning out the fridge – is extra. I’d like her to come only every two weeks, but she balked at that and for now we’d like to keep her.

  28. Dell, we pay $90 for one person to come twice a month for about 5 hours each time. She changes sheets, does laundry, sweeps, mops, vacuums, and cleans the bathrooms. She does not clean fans, blinds, oven, etc. This seems fairly standard here.

  29. My oldest daughter (7) really wants a lot of money. All the time. There are so many things she would like to have. She asks her friends for money. I tried really hard to explain why that was not okay (they have a pretty fluid toy exchange), but couldn’t get my point across, and settled for “we have a rule that you cannot ask or give money to other kids”.

    I can’t manage to do chores on a regular basis, and enforcing kids (and paying allowance) on a schedule seems really hard. I

  30. ‘settled for “we have a rule that you cannot ask or give money to other kids”.’

    lol We found out during a casual conversation that one of our kids had been selling some of his lunch snacks to classmates. Actually, I think both kids did this at one time or another. Maybe it’s a common thing at our local school. While I’m sure some of you would find this to be praiseworthy indication of a budding entrepreneur, when we found out we tried to discourage it from happening again.

  31. We are working on the right amount of money because the requests for money went from almost nothing to $20 per week. The reason is that kids in our town start to independently walk into town to go to Starbucks, diner, CVS etc., and this is really the first time that there is a need for money when an adult isn’t around.

    We think that $20 a week to blow in town is too much for this age, and we are talking about what is the right amount to spending over the course of a month in town, at the mall and some other activities. Money just seems to flow right out of our pockets in these last few weeks before school unless it is a cheap day at the pool.

    DD is responsible for cleaning her room, and any common areas that include a lot of her stuff such as the basement or dining table. We have a cleaning person every other week, but sheets are changed once a week. Towels are washed every 3 – 5 days.

  32. Getting my boys to use soap, shampoo, or toothpaste is like asking them to hand over a limb. But reuse a towel? Never! Today’s towel must be discarded and a fresh one used tomorrow.

    Boys are so weird.

  33. “In our most recent negotiation, I also agreed to give them a dollar for each percentage of Khan math they complete. Complete 2% of 4th grade math, get $2 dollars.”

    This is brilliant. I want to get DD rolling on some of this, mainly as outside support (this year is precalc + PSAT prep stuff); this would likely address both her cash flow issues and minimize the whining/pushback.

    @Ivy: It’s your kid. My oldest is just like Ada’s (including requiring the same rule once I discovered she was a big fat mooch); my youngest is just like yours.

    Cleaners: I think we pay $130. The original quote was like $200-something, but I told them to spend XX hours and get what they can — half the time DD’s room isn’t fit for human habitation anyway, and we only need the guest bedroom a few times a year. So they usually have three people for around an hour and a half, or two people for 2-ish hours. I am primarily worried about basic sanitation and dust bunnies, so they are fine, even if they do seem to arbitrarily decide where some things should be put away (to the point that sometimes I wonder if that are Fing with me just for kicks – who puts the remotes in the newspaper recycle bin, even if it is in the TV room?).

  34. When the boys were younger, I explained countless times about the benefits of hot, soapy water for cleaning all sorts of things. Eventually, they evolved to a point where all I had to do was say, “Why don’t you get some” and they would jump in with, “We know, we know, HOT SOAPY WATER.” But for a very long time, they didn’t know. When we were kids, we lived in a house with one full bath, and so there was a shower schedule. When my sister and I followed our brother in the rotation, we would come out exclaiming triumphantly, “The soap is DRY!! He didn’t use soap! He has to take another shower!” So I was totally prepared the first time one of the boys tried that method, and after that they were required to submit to a smell test after their showers. “Nope, I can’t smell the Spring Rain bath gel. Go back in.”

  35. Lark,
    Re-using towels requires hanging them up somewhere. That takes precious time away from screens and so they are dropped on the floor. One Christmas, Santa brought personalized bath towels so that there would be no question whose towel was on the floor.

  36. Had a conversation socially with a psychologist and she mentioned she has found that people who had chores as kids have higher self-esteem.

  37. We (mostly) solved the towel hanging problem by installing peg-board in their bathroom, explaining how easy it was to hang a towel on a peg (it is much easier than on a towel bar), and saying towels only get washed every so often. If you want your to be pre-wet when you get out of the shower, feel free to just throw it on the floor when you’re done. It was surprisingly rare that they’d use one of their brothers’ towels if theirs was wet.

  38. “We found out during a casual conversation that one of our kids had been selling some of his lunch snacks to classmates”

    One of mine was doing this. I e-mailed the kids mom and mentioned how much her son liked XYZ snack. Problem solved.

    I can totally relate on the “use soap” mantra. I had to explain to one son that washing his hair really meant washing his scalp, so his entire head, not just the front top. Seriously.

  39. Here’s an odd question – at what age can boys trim their own nails? I truly don’t trust mine to do this. I also don’t recall my mom ever doing this for me, but she must have, right?

  40. “even if they do seem to arbitrarily decide where some things should be put away”

    HA! Yes. This happens. I also use this as to make DS put his own stuff away. “If you don’t put it where you want it, the cleaning people will put it where they want it to go, and you’ll never find it.”

    “Here’s an odd question – at what age can boys trim their own nails?”

    I don’t know, but our kids are the same age, and I still do it. I have been wondering the same thing. He seems a little old to be having his nails clipped by mommy, but I don’t know. We let him handle brushing his teeth on his own and that ended up with a cavity & a lecture from the dentist. So I went back to supervising that more carefully than I would like or even actually doing the brushing sometimes.

    My kid is a bit of a germaphobe like his dad. So I don’t have much trouble getting him to use soap, but I have a lot of trouble getting him to actually RINSE. He constantly comes out of the shower covered in suds. Gotta save time somewhere. There are so many Dude Perfect videos to watch.

  41. We started with carefully chosen allowance amounts on a regular schedule, but that fell apart after a year or so. After that, we found other ways to make sure that the boys had experience with managing money of their own and making their own labor/leisure and spending decisions. Grandparents and other relatives were encouraged to give them giftcards instead of trying to figure out what specific items they wanted, and that was a big source of their spending money. We didn’t have a game system, which helped limit their discretionary spending, but they all got the experience of wasting money on computer games or Pokemon cards that didn’t deliver the expected rewards. One DS also discovered the extent to which movies, music, and books could be procured illegally online, which led to some interesting conversations about unenforceable laws.

    We also tried chore charts for a while, but those were abandoned as well in favor of making them responsible for appropriate household chores on a regular and as-needed basis. For a surprisingly long time, I was able to get them to do heavy lifting chores by suggesting that the boxes or bags were probably too heavy for them (of course, only after I knew that they could manage). As each one wised up, a younger brother was there to take the bait.

    Oldest DS was spared some chores when homework loads were heavy, but eventually it dawned on me that responsible adults still have to take the trash down to the curb on trash day, regardless of what is going on at work. I wanted them to understand that schoolwork/sports practice/music rehearsals didn’t exempt them from minimal household participation, and that they had to factor some time into their day to take care of sorting their laundry or picking up branches in the yard after a storm, rather than assuming that Someone Else would handle it. And though we always had landscapers to cut the grass, we didn’t have cleaners for most of their childhood. I explained that hiring cleaning help could be a rational decision, but that they should know how to do those jobs so that they could supervise their cleaning people.

  42. Ivy-My dentist told me that kids don’t have the manual dexterity to properly brush their own teeth until they are 9. It is a pain to have to brush your kid’s teeth, especially when you think that it is something that they should be dong themselves, but it is worth in the long run to make sure that it is done correctly.

  43. How about an electric toothbrush, maybe the kind with a timer? Would that work?

  44. “Ivy-My dentist told me that kids don’t have the manual dexterity to properly brush their own teeth until they are 9. It is a pain to have to brush your kid’s teeth, especially when you think that it is something that they should be dong themselves, but it is worth in the long run to make sure that it is done correctly.”

    Yeah, that’s pretty much what our dentist said too, hence the hovering. Thanks for confirming! I will brush his teeth without feeling bad about it from now on.

  45. Rhett, you now have me watching youtube videos of different kinds of commercial ironing systems. They can be complicated!

  46. We are starting a new chore system with DD (7) who should clearly hang out with Ada’s as mine has already announced she wants to be a billionaire.

    Every weekday has three chores, plus morning/after school/evening routines (personal hygiene and putting things away).

    Saturdays she will get $5 in allowance if everything is completed without nagging by mother.

    So far she has gotten two weeks worth of allowance. Not sure how it will go when school starts.

    As far as incentives, there has been a new American Girl doll on a closet shelf for the past year, waiting for her to earn it by finishing a typing program and learning the times tables….

  47. I wonder if you can hook the ironer to a bed sheet folding machine:

    I also like that the product is manufactured by the Chicago Dryer Company and the guy has a distinct Chicago accent.

  48. I also use this as to make DS put his own stuff away. “If you don’t put it where you want it, the cleaning people will put it where they want it to go, and you’ll never find it.”

    I say exactly the same thing!! The only time DS really cleans his room is the day before the cleaning person comes.

  49. “But reuse a towel? Never! Today’s towel must be discarded and a fresh one used tomorrow.”

    Perhaps having them launder their own towels would alter that attitude.

    Or you could point out how environmentally unfriendly that is, if they care about that sort of thing. E.g., if they ever come home talking about how you need to recycle, or some other thing along that vein, you might point out how reusing their towels would also help.

  50. I’m like PTM; it’s been years since I’ve changed sheets. Folding and putting away sheets seems like such a waste of effort.

    I wash the pillowcases every week, and the sheets every 2 to 4 weeks or so, depending on weather and how busy I am.

  51. ssm – no that’s what happens now before they learn about chores. They have magic coffee tables and magic baskets.

  52. SSM, that showed up on my Facebook feed yesterday and I laughed a little too hard.

  53. I quit trying to keep track of allowance because my DS just doesn’t care about money. Maybe now that he is driving he might, but he doesn’t go out with friends very often, so I don’t want him to say no to friends if he’s short on cash.

    Like many on here, I don’t tie chores to allowance. They have to participate in the upkeep. DS is extremely neat and cleans up after himself unprompted. He no longer even has a dresser in his room because he lives out of his laundry basket. I decided that I don’t care. It doesn’t interfere with me at all. My DD is not tidy by nature. There are at least 8-10 pair of shoes poised and ready for action, stationed all around the downstairs, including under the kitchen table. That was actually one of the things that made me sad when she was away at school – no shoes everywhere! She has to clean up common areas and have her bed and floor accessible to the cleaners every other week.

    The main thing I’m still working on is them doing more without being asked. They both will empty the dishwasher if they see it needs it, and will put a new bag in the trash, but will not take the trash or recycling out unless asked. The bag could be like a jenga game with trash strategically balanced on the top of the pile, but they don’t decide that now is the time. DD will stop at the grocery store if she sees we need something, and will pick me up a bottle of wine unprompted (BEST daughter!!), but my son would rather just skip eating than go to the store and get something.

  54. LOL at the magic coffee table. I’m the cook in our family — DH likes to eat, but he hates cooking. Early on in his and my relationship, I remember telling him that all those dinners that were appearing in front of him when I was around weren’t cooking themselves. I remember him having a look on his face like that fact was actually a surprise to him.

    Re. allowance: Last year, I got tired of constantly getting low-balance notices for DS’s school lunch account. He was buying lunch plus extras (drink, dessert, etc.) most days. On a whim, I told him that I was going to stop adding money to his lunch account, but I was going to give him the equivalent of a basic school lunch ($3 per school day) in allowance. He was free to spend that as he pleased. If he wanted to spend it all on school lunch, fine. If he wanted to save it all and pack a lunch from home every day, fine. Lo and behold, he decided that packing a home lunch was fine with him, and he has been saving up the allowance for tech equipment.

    I have to discuss this with DH, but I’d like to do something similar for DD this year. She’s a little younger (9), so her weekly amount might be a little lower, but it would be the same general deal for her. She can pack her own food, and use her money for other things, or she can buy school lunch with the cash. I think that eating at home vs. eating out makes a big difference to a lot of people’s household budgets, so I’m hoping that the kids will learn the lesson that if you eat home food instead of restaurant/cafeteria food most of the time, you can save a lot of money.

    I am actually thinking about taking an extra step this year and instead of giving the kids their allowance directly, I would instead deposit it into a bank account. (A couple of the local banks offer kids’ savings accounts with no fees or minimum balances.) That way, if the kids wanted to spend money, they would have to take the step of going to the bank and getting it out. That might cut down on impulse buying. OTOH, if they wanted to go to the bank and just withdrew the whole account and spend it, I wouldn’t stop them. As others have said, better to let them live with the consequences of blowing all their cash now, when it really doesn’t matter much.

  55. The kids are responsible for keeping their rooms and bathroom clean. We don’t have a cleaning person, everyone has to put things away in their proper place and clean up after themselves. We also have adults who just do things, instead of asking the kids to take over, so the kids really need to pitch in more.
    We don’t give allowances and I buy what they need and their reasonable wants. If they want to buy presents for friends, they let me know.
    They wear uniforms so buying of clothes is limited. I definitely had more responsibilities at their age but other than that, it is pretty much the way I was brought up. When I was older I had a part time job and I could do what I wanted with the money. I saved a part of it, spent the rest.

  56. NoB, we’ve been depositing our kids’ allowance directly into their bank accounts for a while now. It’s so much easier than giving them cash every week, which has haphazard because we would sometimes forget, and a lot of times we wouldn’t have the correct change. Several years ago, I scheduled their allowance transfers all the way until they graduate from HS.

    My DD had an issue similar to your DS. We approved the school program that allows her to use her school ID to buy food in the cafeteria, with our account being charged for it monthly, mainly in case there were days when we’d oversleep or be running late and send the kids to school without breakfast and lunch, in which case they’d be able to eat at the cafeteria. Turns out that last year there was exactly one day like that, but DD kept using her ID to buy food, and she pretty much spent her entire allowance on cafeteria food. To make matters worse, the lunches I packed for her often came home uneaten, so I stopped packing her lunches, and told her she could pack her own from what we had at home, or continue to spend her allowance on school lunches.

    This year things might be different. She has a couple days where she doesn’t have a lunch break; while she’s allowed to eat in class, she won’t have time to walk to the cafeteria. Even on the days she has breaks, walking to the cafeteria and waiting in line would chew up most of her break time, so I’m thinking (hoping?) that this year she’ll pack her own lunch every day.

    DS, OTOH, pretty much eats whatever I pack for him.

  57. Finn — Part of our “you can take whatever lunch/snack food you want from home for free” deal is that the kids have to make the lunch/snack themselves, put it into the lunch box themselves, and remember to get the lunch box into the back pack. If they don’t do the work themselves, and they thus don’t arrive at school with any food, then they have to use their allowance to buy school food.

    Last year, when DD was in 3rd grade, we packed her lunch for her, but this year she’ll have the responsibility. She’s not the most organized kid, though, and she’s definitely not a morning person, so I think there might be a steep learning curve for her with this particular life lesson.

  58. I wanted to add that DH and his siblings went from living at home for college. Their tuition was paid for by their parents. They didn’t have jobs or extra spending money. After graduation they found their first real jobs that paid them quite decently – that was the first time they had their own money and they have managed it well.

  59. I’m going to reserve the book about Doris. I am still loving the Americans, and I’m interested in anything spy related now.

    I’m glad we just started The Americans because even though we finished two seasons, I like knowing that there are two more seasons to binge.

  60. DD — That student migration topic is actually a submitted post, so maybe we can hold off discussion for now.

  61. Rhett,
    This was priceless:

    “One day she asked permission to carry a hand grenade, like the Yugoslav partisan with whom she was working, a woman. When her request was denied, she had an engineer friend fashion a dud grenade, which she displayed while eating at the mess hall.

    The O.S.S. officer who denied her request saw the grenade and told her, “Honey, I’m going to reach over now and take it from you before anyone gets killed.” She slammed it on the table.

    “When I reached for the handle, the boys went out the windows,” she told NBC. “They just disappeared. And I sat there and ate my salad.” “

  62. Hey Rhett, a couple of things that might interest you. If they aren’t on your radar, you might want to look up more.
    I recall you follow European monarchy and to a lesser extent the movements to bring them back. The folks who climbed the Brandenburger Tor are part of a network of loosely-connected German groups that consider the current government illegitimate. Many want the borders of 1871 or 1945 back. The Frankfurter Allgemeine has several articles about Reichsbuerger.
    The German apprentice system is having a hard time finding applicants. There are currently 14000 spots that look like they aren’t going to be filled this year.

  63. I want that coffee table! I put that video on my FB this week. It is really making the rounds; I saw it when a friend in Germany reposted it from the Lad bible, which I think is from the (still) UK.
    Saac has had a debit card for a very long time, because cash was just too much hassle. I transfer $25 every month. I also give him $tar*ucks money, to encourage the socializing. That’s probably about $10 per month. No clothes budget–I’m glad when I can get him to try anything on. I don’t use it for much of anything anymore. He bites his nails.

  64. SSM – I liked the Magic Coffee Table.
    The messiest person I lived with was a room mate in college. I tried not to be in my room. When I was in my room I climbed into my top bunk and looked out the window. My dorm room was like a tourist attraction – everyone would stop by to look at the mess on one side of the room in horrified fascination.

  65. ^reminder
    You might’ve been able to figure that out, but then again, *ucks did not compute.

  66. RMS, I think I’m with you on where fund goes to die, and their overall approach, not just trigger warnings. Sitting here at my keyboard I agree, but I’m not sure how that plays out IRL.

  67. Ha! Louise, I think that’s a minority view. At my 9:30am yoga class the other week, all the moms (and it’s almost all moms) were cheering about the school year starting.

  68. RMS – I always feel sad at the start of the school year even though during the summer there were times, when I wished they would confined to the classroom.

  69. The funniest email I got was from the band teacher who said “can’t wait for school to start”. And all I could think of was the noise (music to him) awaiting him as the newbies “played” their instruments for the first time.

  70. Summer is so lovely here, even during a hot one, and winter so dreary that I’m with Louise. Hate seeing those school buses. And the Halloween stuff in the store.

  71. “but eventually it dawned on me that responsible adults still have to take the trash down to the curb on trash day, regardless of what is going on at work.”

    ITA with the concept. But I have to admit that there have been Very Bad Weeks when that didn’t happen. So I cut my kids slack when it happens to them. Of course, with all the adolescent drama, the hard part is telling the real Very Bad Week from the 51 other Generically Overwrought Bad Weeks.

  72. It makes me sad when summer comes to an end. I love summer weather here. And our kids generally have a really relaxed summer with lots of downtime – which means they are generally both in a good mood. I’m not looking forward to the start of school, homework, much more intense schedules, etc.

  73. Speaking for my daughter in law, and likely for Sky and Kate as SAH’s and WCE, Kerri and the others with a house and car full of squabbling or simply very active young ‘uns, the parents of teenagers and adult children raphsodizing above have selective memory. I remember the first day of school from my days in the trenches with glee.

  74. DS started high school last week. He seemed to be a bit moody and was starting to show signs of the anxiety issues he had a few years. Last night he sent an email to DW, the gist of it saying that he doesn’t like HS and wants to go to an online school. It was very mature and well thought out. I know HS is a tough transition, and moreso when you go from a small school (550 students total in K-8) to a 1,200 student HS. DW and I agree he needs to give it time so he can settle in, and agree that online school is not an option (I am not interested in debating that here). We are going to reach out to the guidance counselor to see what she suggests because I’m sure other kids have gone through the same thing.

    My question is, what are some things that you did to help your kids with the HS transition that seemed to help? And conversely, what are some things to avoid saying or doing that just made things worse?

  75. OK, for today’s episode of “They Really Are Listening”:

    Last week, I had a totally typical conversation with DD that started happy and ended up with her yelling at me. It started with cars: she wanted to know how much we will sell her my car for so she can start saving, I didn’t want to tell her we plan to give it to her, so I just started talking about how cars are expensive (gas, insurance, maintenance, etc.) so it’s best to save all she can, etc. She was happy as a clam learning about all the things that go into owning a car. So then she starts complaining about how unfair it is that she can’t get a real job until she’s 16. At which point I start asking “helpful” questions — “did you ask? There are some places where you don’t need to be 16 – what about the ice cream shop? What about babysitting?” She meets every question with a justification for why it won’t work (literally: “I suck at dipping ice cream” — honey, no one knows how to do anything when you start, they just want you to show up on time and try hard). Rapidly downhill from there, through “I want to take the Red Cross course first” (I have friends who need babysitters who really don’t care) to “MOM I DON’T WANT TO BABYSIT.” At which point I figure she is just venting frustration and would rather complain about being poor than do something about it, so I stop trying to be helpful.

    The next day, she quizzes her friend with an actual job and finds out they are hiring. The day after that, she asks me to drive her there and picks up an application.

    One of these days I am going to remember that for DD, her words are just her emotions and bear no relationship to what she’s actually going to do. And I will say useful things like “I’m sorry, that must be so frustrating” instead of trying to help.

  76. @DD — Do you want to write that up as a post? I’m sure CoC could move it up the line. That’s a big question that deserves more attention than it will get 5 mins before a new post pops up.

  77. I am looking forward to the start of school!

    Although my entering kindergartener says. He is absolutely, positively, definitely never going to kindergarten.

    So the first few days should be fun!

  78. LfB, I think that’s a great idea. DD asked a really pertinent question for those of us whose kids just started HS. It’s a big change.

    For the record, I’ve been a far bigger case than Junior. I worry every day.

  79. Whatever that commercial was that got yanked — the one for the office supply store with the parents skipping through the aisles singing “it’s the most wonderful time of the year” completely sums up my feelings right about now. Though I do wish they started after Labor Day, like we did IMD(tm) — this past week especially still felt like it should be summer.

    Oh, yeah, here’s awesome planning for you: they started school this year something like August 23. They also have a District policy that when it’s over 90 heat index, all non-air-conditioned schools are closed. So kids from about 40 schools have already missed several days of school, because, hello, no one can figure out that it’s hot in August in MD? Brilliant.

  80. DD- I know one family who had this same situation and agreed to the online thing and it was bad- the son regressed into terribly anxious, anti-social behavior any time he had a group situation. It took a lot of counseling to reintegrate him.
    You might want to consider some sessions with a psychiatrist outside school. My experience is that the school people really have the interests of the school in their minds ahead of the individual child. (often those interests coincide, but sometimes not.) Whether the right indication is anti-anxiety medicine, or simple coping exercises, exercise regimes, talk therapy, etc. it would be good to get some recommendations from the professional.

  81. Amen, Meme. I am gleefully plotting out the 4 hours a week when all of the kids will be gone at the same time. The opportunities are endless :)

  82. Denver: Please do write up your question as a post. I think it will interest a lot of people.

  83. LfB, I think that’s a great idea. DD asked a really pertinent question for those of us whose kids just started HS. It’s a big change.

    For the record, I’ve been a far bigger case than Junior. I worry every day.

    Could we also include the transition to college?

  84. I also dislike the start of school. I enjoyed my house full of rested, nonstressed kids.

  85. Our kids don’t go back until next week. They also don’t get out until the end of June. On the one hand, I like this schedule because it actually makes sense weatherwise. NY in June is still a little cool for summer activities, especially swimming. Our school district has a tradition of a 5th grade pool party in June, and for both my kids, it was an exercise in polar bear swimming, in the rain no less (it also tends to rain a lot in June). August here is still hot. So they are still swimming and doing lots of outside stuff this week while waiting to go back to school. My DD is having a friend over for a water gun battle today.
    The downside, though, is that most of the camps close up after the first week of August so there is always this desperate search for childcare. And I go back this week, a full week before my kids.

  86. “One of these days I am going to remember that for DD, her words are just her emotions and bear no relationship to what she’s actually going to do. ”
    This is a lesson I need to learn with respect to DS2.

  87. I just submitted it as a post topic.

    Mafalda, we have already talked to our pediatrician about possibly restarting the med he was on last time and are looking into finding a counselor/therapist for him.

    LfB, i found your post funny because you perfectly described the stereotypical male/female interactions, but you’re on the male side. We’re usually the ones who have to remember to shut up and stop giving advice.

  88. @DD: Yeah. Apparently I channel my dad without realizing it — and totally forget how much it used to drive me crazy.

  89. “And I will say useful things like “I’m sorry, that must be so frustrating” instead of trying to help.”

    Does that make you feel any empathy for your DH, and Hs in general?

  90. “I am gleefully plotting out the 4 hours a week when all of the kids will be gone at the same time.”

    A couple of sleep cycles and a couple of short cardio sessions.

  91. @Finn, interesting question, and the short answer is not really. I am giving my kid advice because as the parent I have greater knowledge/life experience to impart. Whereas my DH does not know how I should handle [insert generic job issue here] better than I do, yet his offering advice implies that he thinks he does. There is a difference in power structure in a parental relationship that should not exist in a marriage.

    It’s really more the other way around: remembering how annoyed I got when DH used to “help” fix my problems (because I felt like he didn’t think I was capable of solving them on my own) should make me more empathetic to DD, who desparately wants to persuade me and the entire world that she is a capable and competent proto-adult, and so is hyper-sensitive to any implication that she may not already know something. And in that area, I am apparently a slow learner, but am catching on.

  92. LfB, perhaps the relationship is different, but they’re similar in that one person just wants to complain, and the other needs to adjust his/her logical response of trying to help the complainant solve her problem to just being the sympathetic dumpee.

  93. who desparately wants to persuade me and the entire world that she is a capable and competent proto-adult, and so is hyper-sensitive to any implication that she may not already know something.


    why is my daughter in your car?

  94. @Finn — yep.

    @Cordelia — my theory is that there is only one actual teenage girl, and the rest are all hologram technology or mirrors, kind of like the recent Star Trek movie. In which case, you may have her back, please, because these school dropoffs and pickups are getting old already.

  95. LfB, but surely there are a few of them out there who haven’t memorized the entirety of Hamilton.

  96. LfB, but surely there are a few of them out there who haven’t memorized the entirety of Hamilton.

    Not in my house

  97. OK, I’ve just submitted a post on Hamilteens as clearly it’s a topic deserving more than the end of an old post.

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