A new blog friend.... "a babywearing mama of a super-cool son" ...who I wish I'd known while they were still in Cairo(!).. pointed me to a great homemaker helper website, the Fly Lady. I was surprised when I linked on it because I was already familiar with the website, even though I wasn't (yet) a member or subscriber. I've been googling crockpot hints and this site has popped up several times. I think I also hit on it for an albaster cleaning hint, but I may be mis-remembering that. I signed up for the emails and love it already. They are so positive and humorous! Not to mention.. useful.
One feature is a daily email directed at kids. Today's cleaning/organizing challenge for kids was to go through their socks and get rid of those that were no good or too small. What a simple, but great, idea for a kids' organization project. Not too big or overwhelming (unless you are a tired little girl named Honor, she opted out - and it gave us a good chance to talk about fairness - do the work, get paid; don't do the work, don't get paid - fair!), and it was actually a useful job. Not makework. I have had the kids doing work around the house - more so than the housekeeper did, that's for sure - but I am not making them slave. I am trying to keep jobs reasonable and fun for their ages. I feel they are quite capable of doing the work, they just need to get in the habit of doing so (they are), and of understanding that some work we do around the house because that's what families do - ie, work together - and some work will be bonus work. Extra work that will earn a bit of cash. So, where to come up with these 'special' jobs? I think I finally found a source of ideas.
If earning wasn't a big enough lesson, I am trying to find a good way to add in lessons of savings and bills. For one thing, we do not hand the kids cash. We do not usually have them do any shopping locally. Having cash is pretty much a waste for them here. They have no need for it. So, except for lectures(!), how to teach about money value? Well, working. Not allowances. No freebies. Work, for money.
We've started writing down what they earn. Might as well learn 'on-line' banking with virtual cash from the get-go! I am still thinking about the details, but I want to come up with a ledger or spreadsheet - that I maintain, but they can look at - that will show what they earn - a total 'in'. How? (1$ from laundry, 2$ from cleaning mirrors, etc.). What they spend (ie. money 'out'). "Mommy I reeeeallly want this webkinz thing"- so, maybe I order something on-line and give them the invoice when the item arrives in the mail. Brian is also reading well enough that we may explore a bit of comparison shopping. Then, they can subtract their costs from their 'free-to-spend' balance, which might also be a good lesson in taxes and S&H charges! I also want to show them how to set aside a certain percentage (or perhaps just a set amount) per month from their earnings, into a savings account (real ones, so they can see interest too), and know how to watch (be aware of, and not overspend) the balance of their 'free-to-spend' total. I'd like to maintain this on a single sheet - not as a competition really, but so they can see what happens, either way, if they make different choices.
I think I have the idea behind this big lesson down. I just need to find a way to package it for a 7yo and 5yo to see and understand. Preferably off of the computer, a print-out on the wall or something, and even better would be a format that both kids can understand... that's going to take a little more doing, although Honor is pretty handy with numbers, so maybe it won't be too hard to figure something out.