Sometimes I like to jump to the conclusion that, just because we are homeschooling, we differ from the norm in everything. Take my latest quandry: allowance. For whatever reason, my son has had a lot of people telling him that he could help me with this or that around the house, and get paid! He mentioned this to me the other day. Not in an entitled sort of way, but more as an observation. Wondering what exactly do these well-meaning people mean?
So, it’s got me thinking. Just what is our stance on allowance? Is now the time to introduce it (my son is six). Should we introduce it at all? Which brings me back to how we are different (are we?).
One of the reasons we homeschool is that, ideally, it allows us to better function as a family – as a team. We work together, respect each other, and have a chance to be intricately connected with one another’s lives. This includes chores around the home. I’ll be the first to admit, I do the bulk of the housework. (I suspect a lot of homeschooling families don’t break the mould, and are with me here. Mom homeschools the majority of the time, Dad works outside of the home. In fact, we’re a bit different in that respect, but, nevertheless, I still spend the majority of my days at home, and Dad doesn’t. So… our housework structure ends up looking pretty predictable). However, because the kids are also around all day, they see me in action. And, naturally, they are involved. Now, I say naturally, because that is how it works for us. They see me vacuuming, they want to give it a try (sometimes). My daughter’s favourite chore is cleaning the toilets. My son could clean windows all day. They both like to help me cook.
So, my thoughts around allowance go something like this. If they are naturally integrated into my life so well that they enjoy what other people call “chores,” would allowance ruin all of that? The things they now do out of interest, or a shared sense of responsibility, would they start to do out of obligation? Or, worse, simple monetary gain. Rather than coming from a place of giving, sharing, and purpose, would their help come from a more self-serving place. Would this be a good thing?
I want to teach my kids responsibility. I also want them to know about money. How it is made. How to save, and why. And I want them to contribute around the house. But, so far, this has all happened fairly organically with us. I do most of the work. But, they help. And it’s rarely a struggle. My son has regular jobs around the house: feed the rabbits, and the cat. Let them out to hop. Take out the compost, and help with the recycling. But, he doesn’t get paid for those jobs. And I’m not sure he should.
Does this make us unique as homeschoolers? That we are so involved in each other’s everyday, that household chores are simply part of that. We don’t separate them into another section of our lives. We do them. We don’t get paid to be a part of the family. I think so.
But, looking ahead, and thinking about allowance, I wonder. Where, exactly does it fit into this picture?
I’d love to know what your family does about allowance, and how you integrate the things that need to be done around the house into your homeschooling lives. What is your take on allowance?