“Paige, I need to you vacuum the living room.”

Stomp, stomp, stomp, “YOU ONLY HAD ME SO YOU COULD MAKE ME VACUUM!!!!!”

“Yes, that was my whole evil plan.  Nine months of pregnancy, labor and delivery, the whole infant phase, ten years of raising you and paying for you, all so I could get a few years of free vacuuming out of you.  I’m evil like that.”

This was an actual conversation that happened in my house a couple of years ago.

We make our kids do weekly chores and pick up after themselves daily.  It was at battle sometimes at first (see above), but, for the most part, the complaints have disappeared.   They’ve just switched to eye rolling and mumbling behind my back.

When we first started having our kids do chores, we had the ‘allowance/no allowance’ debate.  We settled on no allowance.  I’m a firm believer in chores are part of your responsibility as a family member.  No one hands me a $20 for doing the laundry, so I’m not paying my kiddos for cleaning their rooms.

As my kids get older, they are wanting me to buy them things.  Things that I don’t believe are necessary.  Things they think they can’t live without.  Things I tell them they can spend their own money on.  Enter a new problem.  Getting money.  Since birthday and Christmas only come once a year, and no one seems to be dying to hire a talkative 10-year-old and a moody 12-year-old, I started my brain a-turning.  I had a dog in this fight as well.  They may want money, but I want a more peaceful house.  I was getting really tired of their constant bickering, snotty attitudes, and back talking.

Enter my genius invention….the quarter jars.

A few weeks ago, I put $10 worth of quarters each in two jars, one for each kid.  I told them at the end of the month, whatever was left in the jar was theirs to keep.  This got their attention.  But there was a catch.  Every time they decided to be rude, snotty, mean, back talk, not do what was asked, I would  take a quarter.  They didn’t like that very much.  I then told them that every time I saw them doing something extra, cleaning something without being asked, picking up something that wasn’t theirs to do, being helpful and generous, completing a task that is not normally theirs to do, etc, they could earn quarters.  I could see the dollar signs starting to glow in their eyes.

Immediately, they had to test mom and get in an argument.  Yeah, quarters for me!  They did not like having to get quarters out and hand them over.

A few days later, I walked in the kitchen after lunch and the sink was empty.  I looked around in disbelief.  Did they just throw away the dishes?  My daughter says to me, “I washed and dried the dishes and put them away.”  I nearly fell over.  This girl leaves a trails of mess wherever she goes.  Dishes sit in her room for weeks.  Maybe its a fluke.  A few days after that, my sons stands up and announces, “I’m going to pick up the dog poop.”

Holy crap…It’s working!

I’m sure the kids think they have found their goldmine, their ticket to those new iPods they want.  I know the real goldmine is mine!