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Kids Have to Pay for It...

Fresh starts. I love them! There is a natural rhythm of the year that makes fresh starts very natural. A new calendar year, a new school year, the start of summer, or any change of season.

January is a perfect time for trying something new or starting a new routine - and that is exactly what we are trying at our house. I haven't set any personal goals, but I'm very excited about a new "allowance" and "media time" incentive for my kids. If you have grade school kids, you may already have a similar strategy and I'd love to hear about it! Here's a quick summary of what we are trying:

  1. Each child receives $3 in quarters on Sunday. (I'll admit this may be the hardest part of my plan - having quarters on hand.)
  2. Every day Monday through Saturday they are allowed to have 1 hour of "media time." At our home, this would include hand-held games, television watching, or computer time.
  3. One half hour costs them $.25. (You can do the math: One hour each day = $.50/day times 6 days = $3/week.)
  4. When they pay for their media time, I put the money into a "fun fund" that I will cash in at my discretion for a fun family activity. This could be something as small as going out for ice cream or saving up longer for an overnight trip.
  5. Whatever they don't spend is their allowance for the week!
  6. The kids are still earning their allowance with selected jobs such as unloading the dishwasher, putting clean clothes away, keeping their room tidy, unloading backpacks after school, and helping on cleaning day by dusting, vacuuming, or cleaning sinks and mirrors.
Now, I'm sure I won't be as consistent as I would like to be with this new idea. But it feels like everybody wins. My hope is to keep my kids from spending too much time sitting around watching TV or playing solitary games this winter. The benefit is that either way the money is still set aside for the kids - either as their allowance to spend as they wish or as my money to do something fun for all of us.

What I can report to you so far this week is that my son is all about spending his quarters for media time and my daughter is all about saving them. Just goes to show how each child is so different!

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