Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Home Economics

A few weeks ago, the Husband and I had the brilliant idea to have the kids do extra jobs around the house and earn money to buy each other presents for Christmas. Since we knew we'd be shelling out the cash anyway, it seemed so much smarter to get three little slaves helpers out of the deal as a bonus.

Seemed being the operative word here.

Day one of their bondage helping began. I wanted them to really feel that they earned the money. I wanted to instill in them the joy of giving, as well as the pride in doing a job well done. I started assigning little tasks for them to do. After each one was completed, they would come to me and ask how much that job had been worth. I started out very low - one job was worth ten cents. Another was only a quarter. A really big gross job (like cleaning their bathroom) was worth a mere fifty cents.

It took them all about two hours each to earn their three dollars per person (which was the goal for each day).

The translation of that last sentence is really this: They were constantly up in my face, bugging and nagging, for two hours each, while I had to wrack my brain and come up with new jobs for them to do. It got annoying. Real fast.

I'm a cleaner, people! There isn't that much to do around here in the first place.

Over the next few days, the value of the jobs increased exponentially. What was once worth ten cents was now a whopping one dollar. The unpleasant chores became easier for them as the value attached to that chore increased. I found myself paying them to brush their teeth and make their bed. Anything, ANYTHING that was quick, easy, and required no thinking on my part.

And just yesterday, when one child was at my side once again, asking what job could she do, I told her to think of one herself and tell me once she had done it.

She skipped off very excited, naturally.

I am not sure that the lessons they've gleaned from this plan are the ones that the Husband and I had originally dreamed of.

[I fully blame my poor management style, and lack of motivation for the project.]

Essentially what happened in our little experiment was this: The workers in this warehouse are really doing the job of the manager. The actual manager is hiding out in her office shopping online and blogging, praying that no one in her factory needs a thing from her, while writing out paychecks for work she is not sure was actually completed. She has no quality control department and does not want to take on the responsibility of that herself, so all work remains unchecked at this point. The chairman of the board (aka The Husband) is not told what's really happening in his company, and there is an unspoken agreement between all the employees to keep it that way for as long as possible.

I'd say I've taught them about corporate America quite well.

God bless capitalism.


Lauren in GA said...

I agree, you captured the essence of corporate America perfectly. Well done.

I love the's perfectly put.

(I despise it when my kids working constitutes more work for me)

danandcindy said...

More evidence that Capitalism is evil. Your boyfriend, Michael Moore would be ashamed of you.

Annemarie said...

We sail on this same ship at our house. We (they) went through so much windex that it's just wrong. Shaking out rugs was a popular one, too.
Stupid jobs.

Tristan said...

Those are valuable lessons that are better learned in the home anyway right?

If the kids start a union, make sure they ask Obama for money. ;)

Cynthia said...

that's how we always worked at our house too. It's a great system until the little employees started yapping about the system at the dinner table. . .

Susy said...

Scary how money changes everything and everyone!!!!!Love this post because I can so relate!

Pajama Mama said...

I like the way you run your company! My favorite line: "They were constantly up in my face..." Funny stuff!

brooke said...

Classic Stie. I love it--This is the heart of capitalism. If anyone gets too eager the whole thing collapses.

We need to pay our kids to stay quiet, in their rooms and out of our hair. Does that make us bad moms?

Meeks said...

Your post cracked me up! Especially the sum up at the end. Isn't it funny how we would all dreeeamm of having our kids ASK us for jobs to do, but when it actually happens it gets all a bit too much.
I like this link about when children can attempt certain chores:
The only downside is it isn't a quick fix, because with every new job you give to a child there is the "training period" which requires time and patience! Good luck!!!

Travelin'Oma said...

I remember when I let my own little elves come up with their chores of choice. One of them took out our fence and pulled out the bushes. "Surprise, Mom! Doesn't this look better?"

I love the fact that he grew up to be CEO of the Stie enterprise.

Anna said...

Next, try having them bid for the chores to be done. See how low they will go and how good they will do the chore. I know, I know, that takes your involvement. I'm all outta ideas.

Andy said...

[1823, Montreuil-sur-Mer.]
[Outside the factory owned by the Mayor,]
[Monsieur Madeleine (Jean Valjean in disguise).]

At the end of the day you're another day older
And that's all you can say for the life of the poor
It's a struggle, it's a war
And there's nothing that anyone's giving
One more day standing about, what is it for?
One day less to be living.

At the end of the day you're another day colder
And the shirt on your back doesn't keep out the chill
And the righteous hurry past
They don't hear the little ones crying
And the winter is coming on fast, ready to kill
One day nearer to dying!

At the end of the day there's another day dawning
And the sun in the morning is waiting to rise
Like the waves crash on the sand
Like a storm that'll break any second
There's a hunger in the land
There's a reckoning still to be reckoned and
There's gonna be hell to pay
At the end of the day!...

Joy & Casey said...

LOVE IT!!! That's the kind of mom I am....not doing so well in the teaching kids responsibility department...I'm hoping someone down the road will do a better job with them-that's what primary teachers and school teachers are for, right? LOL Love ya Christie!

Ilene said...


Really, I wish the company my husband works for could actually function half as well as yours.

I mean, at leat you are planning to lay anyone off.

Robyn said...

Ha ha ha! That was GREAT! I would SERIOUSLY pay my kids to leave me alone for a few hours if I could. I don't think it would work, though. Parker loves COIN money, but he hates PAPER money.

My sister and I were talking about how bad we are at giving our kids little chores. It's so much easier just to do it ourselves!

Holly said...

As I have always known, you are a girl after my own heart.

I've never successfully implemented an organized chore system--at lest one that lasts. I applaud your half-hearted efforts.

I'm definitely a whim and fizzle girl.

♥Shally said...

I swear Jax has cleaned dog poop and toilets (even though they are clean already) a thousand times because I hate thinking of new jobs for him to do. :)

Rosie said...

Our kids had to earn the value of the gift their siblings were to give them. Here's why: as we sat around the table to draw names, Creed muttered "I hope I don't get Stella." Then he drew her name, and threw a fit. Then he decided it was okay to not earn a penny toward her gift, because he didn't want to get her anything. Butthead.

Miss T said...


Jessica said...

Very funny. With the L and L parenting theory, you come up with something to have them pay back the energy they've drained from you through their offense.

You know what? It drains 10 TIMES MORE ENERGY trying to get them to do their dumb energy drain that it's pointless.

I hate kids and jobs. Hate.

Becky said...

That would make any mom cry. I love it, and I love how little those guys look. How sad that it has to go so fast and how great all rolled into one. Merry Christmas friend, I loved your card!!! And I am happy to see mine up on your board. :) (yours is always up on the back of my front door.) Enjoy the week!