Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Nanny Help? *Updated

The other day I was flipping channels, and ran across one of those nanny shows. You know, where the British nanny comes over to some family here in America whose kids are totally out of control. They come in and straighten the whole thing out in a few days with a few simple rules. Yeah, right. I wonder how long it takes for things to get back to the way they were once the cameras and nanny leave?

But I digress into my eternal pessimism.

Anyway, what caught my attention was that the nanny was suggesting that the parents set up an allowance for chores system, because the kids took everything for granted and were used to having everything given to and done for them. I was surprised because current popular American child rearing wisdom says not to tie allowance to work of any kind. If you are familiar with our family, you know we think that is hogwash.* I think, ok, maybe these nannies do know a thing or two.

So she went about setting up a chore chart for an 8 and 9 year old, who had never done chores before, were completely disrespectful to mom, dad, and grandma, and screamed for what they wanted. The nanny set up three chores for these two kids. They had to:

keep their rooms clean
clear off their dishes after meals
make their beds every day

I was stunned. In our house it is considered a "chore" if it helps out the family at large or takes a job from mom or dad. In other words, picking up their own toys in their room is not a chore. It is simply taking responsibility for their own things. Cleaning a bathroom, doing dishes, etc. are considered chores.

Besides that, my three year old does more around the house than that. She does all of these, plus puts away her laundry that she can reach, helps fold the towels - like washrags and dishrags - and put them away if she can reach them, puts the clean silverware in the drawer, brings down her dirty laundry from her hamper on her wash day, and is always bringing me things when I ask.

That poor nanny probably doesn't want to know what my nine year old does! Not only does she do her own laundry, as well as Ashlynn's laundry, she dusts, vacuums, cleans bathrooms - including scrubbing toilets - sweeps, helps cook, does dishes, pulls weeds, dusts blinds, and folds a good bit of the laundry, along with her sisters. Of course my eleven year old does even more than that!

It seems to me a poor way to raise hardworking adults if we never expect them to work, and working around the house is a built in way to instill a desirable work ethic, which includes teamwork and self discipline. I'm all for kids having fun and playing, being creative and doing extra-curricular type activities. We do those as well. But whether your kids are in a day school or homeschooled, they need to learn early and consistently that they have to pull their share of the load. Not only does this teach them valuable life skills - I think we all went to college with kids who had never washed a load of laundry before - but it will prepare them for a productive adulthood.

It also helps make life a little easier in a house full of short people.

*UPDATE: I said this in the comment section but decided to say it here as well. There are perfectly valid reasons not to tie allowance to chores - that is something for each family to decide, as Kristen said. That's not what I meant by "hogwash."

I have read several articles by experts of one kind or another that warn not to ever tie allowance to chores because of the psychological damage it can cause. They premise that paying kids money for chores will cause them and their work ethic harm. They'll grow up only doing housework if they are paid for it. This, I believe, is hogwash.


Kristen and Dave said...

yeah, those kids will be idiot adults, much like their parents I imagine, only partly because of their lack of life skills (even more so because of their unchecked selfishness).

btw, we're one of those families that practices "hogwash" when it comes to allowances. we do not treat allowance as a reward, because in my mind, learning to handle $$ is an even more important skill than dishes and laundry. if their laziness in chores causes them to never have $ to handle, then they'll be lazy with their $ when they are grown. we choose to punish or withhold privilege for not doing chores (plus they still have to do them), and give $ just for learning purposes. the only time we withhold allowance is for carelessness that causes damage needing repair/replacement.

Amy Mantooth said...

Thank you! This post as well as Kristen's comment have been very insightful. I am totally with you on everyone pulling their own weight. It teaches work ethic, self discipline, and teamwork. It teaches that they are not here to be served, but to serve. Sound like anything you have heard before? It also gives them confidence and life skills that they will need in the future. Our world is so mixed up in what is really NEEDED!!!

Tami said...

Kristen, I guess I should have qualified what I said better. It's not that I believe money should only be given for chores. But I have read several articles on how giving money for chores would damage the kids somehow. That they should learn to do chores basically for the sheer joy of doing them. That's really the line I was thinking.

I am totally with you that kids have to learn how to manage money before they leave the house! Actually the way we do it is the kids get a set amount based on their age, becuase the older you are the more resposibilities you will have around the house. I don't do a chart like this chores gets $.25, etc. Too complicated. But they understand that they are getting the money as compensation for their hard work, and if they fail to do their chores, or do them in a careless manner, they can/will be deducted.

They also have to pay for replacing items they broke, etc.

Sorry about the misrepresentation!

Kristen and Dave said...

Tami, please stop your incessant "misrepresentation". ;-) btw, was just adding in my 2 cents, certainly wasn't offended by your post at all! always like to hear other parent's ideas, even when I come to different conclusions. my guess is your girls will be well-trained in MANY areas, including handling money.

Tami said...

Well, I figured that if you thought that's what I meant than someone I don't know as well might really misunderstand and get offended. ;-)

I'm glad for your two cents! I love picking other moms' brains!

Melissa B. said...

Oh wow, between your post and Kristen's comment I have found some help with the boys. I'm having a VERY hard time getting the boys to help out with their own things (make beds, laundry, etc.) much less help clean the bathroom and dishes. Thanks to both of you for the ideas about how to use allowance and what not. I've tried different things this past year and a half so I'll try this. Of course it would help if I had a little assistance from dad and grandparents! Uggg.