Thursday, October 28, 2010

You'll get paid when I do - Excerpt from In the Trenches

So far in my adult life no one has offered to pay me to do my own housekeeping, the laundry, or wash my car. I keep asking but so far no takers. What’s worse yet is that most of the time I am cleaning someone else’s mess and not my own.  So why do we pay our kids to do these things and call it an allowance. What’s worse is that we have to nag them and remind them to do it and often have to finish it up to do it right.
Here’s another angle. We all live here, and we all work. We all eat here, so we work. We all sleep here, so we work. Sound harsh? Practice it out loud until you can say it confidently to your five year old or your fifteen year old.

Well, you ask, how are they going to learn how to handle money? Easy, once they have been trained at home they can go to the neighbors and offer their services to neighbors and have all the skills to do it right. A kid who can mow lawns and clean flowerbeds at 14 can have his own landscaping business at age 18. If he doesn’t want to do the work he can hire the next up and coming 14 year old. A person that can clean house well can make far more money than the same person who goes and gets a job at a fast food restaurant. And can set their own hours after school, weekends, and college. If you don’t know how much a housekeeper makes just look in the phone book, make a few calls, and you might be tempted to quit your job and start your own business.

It is well known that service jobs are high in demand and will be for years to come. We have all the tools we need at home to be teachers. I know that we all don’t want our kids to be in the service industry. We have bigger plans, like college. Great. All the better. But we can still teach our kids to work, to strive for excellence, and best of all to start their own businesses.

“Inspection time.” That’s what my kids always heard after our weekend cleaning assignments. I would go in look under beds, check all corners, closets, and make sure the sheets were straight. Anything not done right was done again. I still remember their faces as they waited and watched me inspect. They beamed with pride when it passed. There was no arguing or negotiating or procrastinating for they knew I was the “Inspector” and it had to meet my standards, not theirs.

Did they get money? No. Did they get treats or more TV? No. They got a sense of accomplishment at a job well done. Our family has a joke. When the 2 boys got home from boot camp they both said it was a breeze after living with me. They also said that they couldn’t believe how many grown men were getting in trouble because they couldn’t make a bed, dress themselves neatly, or pick up their clothes. Grown men would cry because they couldn’t pass inspection.

Teaching and training our kids to work hard, strive for excellence, and contribute to a family is one of the greatest gifts we can give them. The skills and discipline will put them in good standing in whatever field or vocation they choose. And the best thing is that one person won’t be sitting and watching TV while the other scrambles around to get everything done. (Know what I mean?)

So when do we start? Well my four year old granddaughter helped me start the dishwasher and do a load of washing. Early enough?

The writing of In The Trenches began in 2002.  Even when I read it over I can think of things I would change, edit, add, or reword.  I am tempted to do so while I post it.  Ideas change, people change, and moments change.  That's really what makes life interesting - growth and development.  You may not agree with some of my ideas but I hope that they will challenge, interest, and even hopefully entertain you for a few minutes.  That is my reward and goal.  Carol

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