Cheap Labor

“Cailey, I’ll give you a nickel if you play with Jensen while I get this job done.”

She takes in a deep breath, places her hands on her 6 year old hips and says sternly:

“Well. You’ll have to give it to me NOW, because last week you said that and I never saw THAT nickel.”

I turned to her father, “Evidently, she wants the money up front.”

Smart girl.

You may call it bribery. We like to think of it as creative parenting. We offer the children a little added incentive to get them to do something that is not ordinarily expected of them. They have chores, believe me. And the payment for such chores comes in the form of free room and board. And an occasional Happy Meal.

We expect the girls to make their beds in the morning and clean their room. I assign a kitchen helper as well. Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday are Cailey’s days. Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays are Emme’s days. Sunday is a free-for-all with everyone pitching in with the hope of just getting fed, because I steer clear of cooking on Sunday.

They also help with laundry and general cleaning. We can’t wait for Jensen to get big enough to mow the lawn and take out the trash. He’ll even get KP duty. I believe a man ought to know how to navigate the kitchen. For his future wife’s sake, if nothing else. A future wife that I have already begun to pray for. That she have much stamina and strength.

jensensweeper.jpgBut, I’ve devised a clever plan to get him started working on chores early. Lately, I’ve been handing him my cordless “Shark” sweeper and telling him it’s a car-car. I mean, it has wheels. And to him, anything with wheels constitutes a ride.

Money really means nothing to him at this point. I know this because whenever he starts making any loud noise and continues to recreate the sound over and over and over and over until Mommy’s head explodes all over the ceiling, and I yell, “I’LL GIVE YOU A DOLLAR IF YOU STOP MAKING THAT NOISE,” he only gets louder.

However, his form of currency comes in the form of Gummy Bears. If he stuffs enough of those into his pie hole he’s quiet for a good 10 minutes. Just long enough for me to regroup.

Creative parenting. It works for me.

January 18, 2008

20 Responses to Cheap Labor

  • I’m all for Creative Parenting…I love the idea of jamming gummies in Jenson’s mouth to keep him quiet. I need to find something like that for That Other Kid….He talks from sunup to sundown, and sometimes when he is sleeping….I need SOME quiet time, ya know.

  • I’m glad to hear that our son is not the only one who grabs a phrase and hangs on. My son’s favorite is the ever predictable “Mommy? Mommy? Mommy? Mommy?”

    I’ll have to try the gummy bear thing. 🙂

  • Glad to know that I am not the only one who creatively parents.

  • Ok I am coming out of lurkdom to add – we did this with our baby… we had a cordless Ereka (can’t spell – have not had enough tea in my sytem yet) Broom Vac and used to give it to the little munchkin – he went upstairs and downstairs until the thing died and had to be recharged. He did that every single day. Works for me! Now if only I could get that same 9 year old to want to clean up his room. haha

  • Your daughter babysits for a nickel?! My 8-year-old charges $.25! Outrageous! A nickel in my house is the going rate for whomever can find the baby’s sippy cup before the milk in it rots and said sippy cup has to go in the trash. I figure $.25 beats the $5.99 to replace the cup!

  • Baby isn’t crawling yet. Is it too early to start chores?

  • do you really like your shark? does it do the job? i hate to sweep and have been thinking about it!

  • It was just yesterday that I called out “$5 to whoever cleans up the little kids’ rooms. Any takers?” Ohyeahyoubetcha.

    Our kids have each started chores the same week they learned to walk, so they are accustomed to contributing to the household with routine housework. I will pay them for services above and beyond their usual assignments. It’s worked for us so far. The older ones will occasionally ASK for extra duties to earn a little dough now and then.

  • first please let me thank you for the belly laughs shared with my husband and I read some of your blog to him late one night! laughter is so healing. second, I may have the wrong blog, but did you write about your home cleaning schedule once? My husband and I have two bio children – son 17 and daughter 5 and are traveling to Ethiopia sometime this spring to bring home our new daughter 8 and son 3. I am thinking that winging the home cleaning will no longer pass muster… thanks again for your blog – I will be homeschooling next year so we can talk about Jesus when we want too! Judith

  • I have been known to say to my teaching assistant, “I’ll give you five dollars if…”
    Hey, it works with the kids, but I only offer them quarters. Oh, why wasn’t I smart enough to start with nickel?

  • My kids are older than your, but I still creatively parent. I think I always will even though their prices go up steeply!

  • Yeah for you! My kids, too, have chores . . . have ever since they could walk . . . it’s all being part of a family. Last spring, we were soooo busy (I’m not sure why, but we were) so I hired the neighbor boy to rake the pine needles in our yard and bag them – $2 a bag he was asking – he was trying to raise money to get his own Internet connection in his room. Jason has helped me do the pine needle job before . . . he said to me “What?! You paid Alex and you don’t pay me?” I said “Dude, helping out is part of being a family. Alex is not part of our family. I paid him because we just couldn’t get it done.” However, the other day when Jason cleaned MY bathroom without being asked, that got him a little bonus for the old piggy bank . . . I mean really, what 7 year old boy WANTS to clean his mother’s bathroom?

  • My kids get a piece of candy each morning if they stay upstairs until the Mr. Sun has awakened. I used to think I was above bribery. Then I had kids.

    Oh, how I love my Shark. And oh how my Shark loves me.

  • On a 3.5 hour car ride I have started a contest for the person who could stay quiet for the longest. The girls were 7 and 9 at the time. It would be a dollar to the winner. We spent the next two hours in blissful silence so I gave both girls a dollar when we reached our destination. Clare

  • I found your blog through Lysa’s contest. I love your writing. It’s fun, practical, and entertaining. Keep it up. I’ll check back often.

  • I love the phrase “pie hole!” I have used it once or twice concerning my kids and my parents were mortified. I however thought it was hilarious. Just like it’s hilarious in your post. Thanks for the pick me up.

  • I just bought the shark a couple of weeks ago and am loving it!!!!

  • Another friendly blogger ordered me to come here and check you out. So I did, and I am glad.

    I think that I am going to need to get one of those shark things, I would love it if the kids did a little more of the vaccuuming but the big one is so hard.

    My 4-year old once asked for a coin so I gave him a nickel and he gave it back saying he wanted the one with a bird on the back. They learn way too fast.

    It is not bribery, it is rewarding. Rewards are given after the fact and bribes are given before. We are all about the rewarding. I might have bribed, too, oh well.

  • It is not bribery. You are teaching your children the value of working and getting rewarded for that work. Our children are now in the negotiating faze. When Mr. Muscles offers them a quarter they try to get 50 cents. They are getting good!

  • Me too! Me too! I use money. It works wonders. Except when I miss a few weeks of giving them their dollar, they foolishly think I need to “catch up” on my payments. They’re funny.