I am not very good at giving my kids pocket money.
Possibly it is the fact that they are a bunch of freeloaders who have everything supplied, meals cooked, me as their personal taxi and courier service, and that their biggest gripe in life is that they do not have access to wi-fi for every second of their day.
Possibly because I forget to draw money and trying to divide a R100.00 note between 3 is just not possible whilst driving on the N1.
They get tuck shop money from Kennith/their other home, so they do get pocket money.
There is something about just handing a child money without them doing anything to earn it that really irks me.
I think we have become a generation of parents who just gives our kids almost anything and everything they want.
They have come to expect that they just get things – money – what ever, without them having to do anything to earn it. I am not sure how your childhood was, but mine was hard, and nothing was given to you just because you existed.
I had part time jobs as soon as I was able to stand vertically and not dribble on my shirt front. I do think HR laws were a bit more lax back then, and you could work for someone, for money, from a really young age.
The point was, I never got pocket money. We were a poor family, and there was very little in the way of extras or money to do things. If I wanted to have new clothes, or go out, or have what my friends had, I had to work and earn the money to buy it, or pay for it.
No one stood and drummed it in to me, it was just a case of accepting the situation for what it was.
I have tried to set up regular chores (all quite manageable) for the kids to do every day.
If I am lucky it was done once or twice, which really took a shorter time than it did for me to draw up the stupid chart. Then abandoned altogether.
I got tired of me having to continually “remind” them to do their chores. Then debating with me why now was not a good time to do the chore. Eventually I went with the “fuck it” solution.
They thought fuck it to their chores, and I thought fuck it, I will buy wine with their pocket money and it will be a win win all around.
I would get angry and disappointed that my kids could not follow and accept responsibility. I felt a bit disappointed that I had somehow missed the mark at this parenting malarkey.
I realised — as all parents do — that we spend a lot of time repeating the same instruction. The exact same instruction. Over and over, and over again. To the point where we are more exhausted by the need to repeat the instruction than the child not doing what ever the thing is that you want them to do.
Tell me as a parent, you have not sighed deeply, sworn under your breath and just gone and done what ever it is that you have asked your child to do like ninety-nine times already – because it is just less exhausting than repeating the same fecking instruction when no one is clearly listening.
I think kids are on to this.
They know they can go “okay” and then forget what every it is you have painstakingly told them. Immediately. Normally with no repercussions.
Anything else that does not directly benefit them, goes straight out of their head.
I battle with Misophonia. Chewing food is probably my biggest “flare.” Georgia either does not know, or she is unable to remember, or well there must be a medical reason, she cannot chew with her mouth closed.
I don’t eat with my kids because it drives me to distraction. I feed them, then let them eat and come back.
I can’t even sit at the same table with them, or next to her especially. Which is terrible, because there are so many happy families eating together all over Instagram, and I cannot fake it long enough to get through a meal without totally losing my shit.
In the last three months I have made a concerted effort to either sit at the table when they are eating, or eat with them.
Georgia’s chewing with her mouth open is at the point where I am saying – in my best, most patient voice – “please chew with your mouth closed” so many times it actually does not leave any room at all at the table for any other discussion. I am so stressed I can’t finish my food, and my jaw eventually aches from the amount of clenching I am doing.
In one bite/mouthful of food, I have to remind her at least three times if not nine times to please eat with your mouth closed. And that is just to keep her lips together when she chews.
It is that bad.
She is sweet and kind, smiles and apologises and says she has forgotten. Again I am reminding her at least three times per bite of food (at a minimum).
Okay, you may start wondering how the hell I have traipsed down this road when I was talking about pocket money.
I had a “Hail Mary” moment. At the dinner table. You know, when you see the light, and it is brilliant!!!
I drew up a list on the fridge. A4 page, landscape, with two lines to allow for three columns. Each child’s name is in a column.
On Monday morning everyone gets R20.00 credit to their column.
Seems easy enough.
The rest of the week becomes a case of adding money or removing money – R2.00 off every time Georgia eats with her mouth open (tonight at dinner I had to tell her twice – not great, but a huge improvement over the 55 times I usually have to say it.)
If I ask the kids to do chores, they are not automatically given money. But if I think they did the chore well, did it when I asked the first time, did not moan about it and so on, then I add R2.00 or R5.00.
The same for when they don’t listen. I have to pick up wet towels. I have to repeat the same instruction more than twice, they slam the fridge door, they do not clean up after themselves. I do not expect them to be angelic or perfect kids – they still scream at each other, Isabelle bullies her sister, they punch each other randomly and so on ….. I just do not want to keep repeating instructions, that by now they must know.
The fecking neighbour probably knows as I have said it and screamed it so many times, but for some reason my kids don’t.
This system means they stop what they are doing, have time to think about it as they walk to the fridge, and they see how their behaviour is affecting their bottom line.
It’s not a lot of money that I am giving them. So I can’t believe it is just about the money, I think they are learning the principle of “I do this and this happens….” and “this happens” could be good or bad. They see and feel an immediate upswing or downswing when they do something, or do not listen to something.
The trick is, they have to go to the fridge – the paper is stuck on the fridge door – and they have to write the minus R2.00 or what ever figure and then put in brackets why they have lost the money.
It is probably one of the most effective parenting tools I have used. It’s still early days, but it works. So far. In a 100 small ways.
A conversation goes like this: “Please close your mouth when you are chewing.”
11 seconds later is the sound of open mouth chewing.
“Please go to the fridge and take R2.00 off.”
She stops what she is doing, puts her knife and fork down, goes to the kitchen and writes on the page.
She returns, and true as nuts I can nearly get through an entire meal without having to repeat the instruction again.
I have not had wet towels left on the floor in weeks.
I had begun to accept the kids just dropping their shit on the floor as what I will need to live with for ever and ever …. I mean it has been 14, 10 and 6 years respectively … at this point I have pretty much given up hope of ever seeing dry towels on a rack.
I had accepted that this was not going to be a part of the life I was leading.
Now they switch lights off when they leave a room.
For the most part, their clothes are either in the wash box or hung up. There is still the odd thing balled up in a corner, but if I compare what I was dealing with before, and the level of moaning I had to do, whilst now it just happens.
I also no longer repeatedly moan – within reason. I still have to remind them at least four times in the morning to pack their lunch and juice bottles into their bags. If I don’t one of them will leave their lunch at home. Without fail.
But I am not up to number seven times I am repeating the same instruction/request.
I issue an instruction, then I say clearly “If I come back here and it is not done, then I am taking R2.00/R5.00 off…”
Again, I do not go and write the money off on the fridge – they do.
There is no hair pulling, shirt ripping and I do not have to repeat myself to the point where I want to run away to a mid-level hotel, that offers a well stocked bar fridge, a large bed with good linen, and the full DSTV package.
I also do not “reward” them to do a chore. I do not say “do this and I will give you R2.00/R5.00” — so they do not expect money in exchange for chores.
I do not have to keep asking them to do the chore. Now it is done. I say “when we get home, I need Georgia and Isabelle to empty all the dustbins in the house, and Connor you are on dog poo duty…” and that is the end of the conversation.
If I feel they have done something well, or I think they have been helpful, or they have been polite to each other then I reward them.
Recently we played a game of UNO – and everyone played fair, it was pleasant and no one was mean to each other. After the game I added R2.00 to each child’s column.
I don’t know much about the psychology of children and why this works, but at the moment, this works.
Pocket money – here take all my money!!! Does not work for me. This system aligns better with my sense of fairness and being deserving.
They start the week with R20.00 and depending on their input they can either add to that amount, or they lose it.
I do not take huge chunks off – it’s always in small increments. I want to encourage them, and keep them interested and I am not ruthless in the application. But the point is that once they start doing things, then they keep doing them, and I don’t have to keep repeating myself to tell them to do it.
This is not the magic bullet, I am still repeatedly reminding them about stuff, I still get projects handed to me at the last moment, they still fight in the car, and life is still pretty exhausting …. but this pocket money system works for us.