Seven is such a pivotal age, perhaps even more so when a new baby arrives. The leap into the next stage of childhood is profound and because Che is our firstborn it’s all new for us, too. Somedays it feels like we’re doing an alright job, others it feels like we’re fumbling.
With seven comes an independent streak so bright it’s impossible to ignore. There is also an awareness of what can only be categorised as keeping up with the jones’ – many of his friends at school come from affluent households and it’s not uncommon for a child to own their own iPad. Enter lofty expectations, reality and the subject of pocket money. We first discussed it when he started kindergarten but he’s only showed a vested interest in it recently. He wholly understands that the only way to earn money is to work (ie. help around the house).
But this is where it gets tricky. Daniel and I firmly believe that every member of the family should, at a certain age, contribute to the day-to-day running of the household. Plates should be taken from the table to the sink at the end of a meal, shoes should be taken off and put by the door or in the wardrobe, dirty clothes should be put in the washing basket, toys should be packed away, rooms should stay (relatively) tidy. So where do we draw the line between the essential jobs around the house and the extra deserved-of-pocket-money chores? As you can see above, raking up frangipani leaves is one of the extra jobs that we feel is perfect for earning money and Che has done this every Saturday for the past few weeks. We don’t own a dishwasher and we do create a fair amount of dirty dishes so washing, stacking and putting the dishes away is another time-consuming yet helpful job that we’re happy to class as a chore (because, let’s face it, it really is a chore).
Specific jobs aside, there is also the concept of money that needs to be discussed. The saving versus spending conversation is vital if we’re to nurture a healthy and realistic approach to money. Che has a school banking account and we encourage him to save half his pocket money and spend the rest (so far, he’s agreed). The grandparents also give him money for each birthday and Christmas and he understands that every cent of it must go straight in the bank.
Overall, his interest in earning money has fuelled his desire to help around the house. Coincidentally, we feel he is at an age where he is able to help in a more practical sense and perhaps this has been realised since Percy arrived (he can’t make a cup of tea just yet but he’s quite generous when spreading jam on toast).
This is the very beginning of his relationship with money and we want to make sure it’s a healthy one. His future is looking to be quite expensive (how on earth will the next generation afford a house if we’re struggling to do the same?) and we want to make sure he gets a good, albeit realistic, start (no wealthy parents here!).
But still, we have questions:
what jobs should be worthy of pocket money?
what’s the going rate for pocket money? (he earned $2 for raking a backyard of leaves).
what do you do if a job isn’t finished but he’s tried really hard?