Child Labor – Don’t Call CPS

 My son is, at five, starting to understand the concept of money. He knows if he has a lot of dollars and coins in his piggy bank, he can open that sucker and buy more Legos.

And, in my house, it’s all about the Legos.


I started thinking that since he was becoming a big boy, it might be time to put together a more formal chore chart. While we’ve always had “chores” for him to do – from the simple helping sort the laundry when he was two to the more complex feed the dog when he was three – I hoped a more formal chore chart would provide him with a visual of what needs to be done during the day.


When I explained the chart, my son stared at the brightly colored stars and bars and said, very seriously, “How much will I get paid?”


“What do you mean?”


“The chores are my job.”




“Don’t you get paid to do your job?”


“Well, yes.”


“How much do I get paid?”


I thought fast. I’ve never been a big fan of paying for chores. To me, doing chores is just part of helping the home run. And Lord knows I don’t get paid to do dishes. At the same time, the kid had a point. What was the incentive here? A job well done would only go so far.


“How about ten Jelly Bellies a week?”


He looked me as if I was an idiot. “Mama,” he said patiently, “Jelly Bellies aren’t money.”


“Oh yeah.” Dang. I’d been getting away with paying the kid in Jelly Bellies for two years.


“How about,” I looked at the seven chores listed, multiplied out by seven days and did a few rough calculations. “How about a dime for every star you earn.”


“That’s a deal!”


So now, for $4.90 a week, I have someone to help with the dishes, feed the dog and clean the living room without much argument. He also gets paid to get dressed. Sadly, he doesn’t always get a star in that box.


What do you think? Do you give, or plan on giving, your children an allowance? Do you have a chore chart? Does your kid still work for jelly bellies? If so, can you send him over?

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