Allowance for kids. Is this a touchy subject like most parenting concepts? I have no idea if I’m stepping into something sticky, but I’d love to have a little discussion about it if it’s approachable. And I’m going to work through the idea of allowance as I write, so bear with me. And please feel free to weigh in! I’d love to hear your thoughts.
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At the start of summer break, Colin and I started gathering seldom-used things in our house for a garage sale. And that got Veda thinking about having a lemonade stand at the same time to earn a little money of her own.
She then thought that she’d like one other thing to offer her customers, and she came up with the idea of homemade perfumes. Her first attempt was with a container of water, some beech nuts and a handful of mint from our garden. She steeped it for a few days, and it went south. On to Plan B.
Next up was essential oils. She saw my oils on the bathroom shelf and thought she could mix some scents together to form her all-natural perfumes. So we looked it up on Pinterest and found a recipe that looked simple to try.
Together we calculated the cost of materials – roller bottles, base oil and labels – to determine how much money we had to put in up front. Then we made the perfumes (the fun part!) and calculated how much she should sell them for to earn a little profit for her piggy bank.
She was WAY into it, pushing each step along and wanting to work at it a little every day. I thought about how it was a good tiny start to educating her on earning her own money. How it brought in math, measuring ingredients, going out to buy supplies, thinking about labels and signage, etc. And it was good for her to take ownership and feel good about her offering.
And so the subject of allowance came up in my mind. How in contrast, allowance feels to me like just handing over money for tasks done around the house that should be helped with anyway. We all dirty the dishes, bring dirt in on our shoes, messy our bed covers, etc. And therefore, in my mind, we all should pitch in to tidy up, sweep floors and make beds. And these everyday tasks aren’t done to earn money, they just need to be done regardless. Same goes for yard maintenance – sticks fall, leaves accumulate, and weeds pop up and they all need to be addressed as part of everyday life.
Teaching Veda to care for our home and to maintain things we have charge of is just part of her learning to be independent and self-sufficient for when she eventually has her own home.
So again, I’m working through this as I write it, but it looks like I think earning money should come from outside of everyday household tasks. I love the idea of Veda thinking about ways to earn money (when she wants to) by being creative and by offering something to others. I want her to have an entrepreneurial spirit and not think that things get handed to her just because she’s here doing what needs to be done anyway. That doesn’t happen (for most people) as adults. So why not help her learn how to do that as she’s young?
Watching her come up with the idea of the lemonade stand and essential oil perfumes inspired me. I saw her think deeply about what she could offer. I saw her work out the math on the kitchen chalkboard to determine her costs. I saw her attempt and fail at one idea and how that didn’t discourage her, but made her keep thinking of alternate options. I saw her take ownership of a self-directed project.
All that, in my view, is very valuable. Much more so than allowance for allowance sake. But I know I’m just scratching the surface of this idea. And I’m pretty new to this with a seven year old who’s just now starting to think about it. I certainly don’t want to be like the mom with a toddler who think she knows everything about teaching a teenager to drive. Other parents have been here, done that, and I’d love to hear about their experiences. What works in your household? And if you’re just getting started like us, where do you fall on this idea? I’m all ears!