Teaching your teenager a lesson on economics: $2 an hour jobs
Last year, I felt like a princess over Spring Break. I did no laundry, no dishes. Didn’t take out the trash.
Didn’t get a concussion playing “Bowling Ball Tennis” or a black eye playing “Whack a Stack” (don’t ask) with my 6-yr-old bundle of boundless energy.
Never swept the sidewalk, or raked the leaves. Never even picked up one single HotWheels car or Happy Meal toy from the living room floor.
In fact, I had time to go out for sushi not once, but twice…and I actually painted my toenails. I might have even *gasp* taken a nap.
How did I accomplish this magnificent feat?
Or am I a big ol’ liar living in total chaos?
Nope. I finally got to the core of my teenager’s being. His raison d’etre. His motivation. It’s not Guitar Hero as I suspected. It’s COLD HARD CASH.
As a parent, you continuously struggle to identify your child’s motivators. You know, what will it take to get them to DO stuff. Whatever that key motivator is, you either GIVE IT or TAKETH IT AWAY, depending on the situation.
When you’re a teenager, everything you want costs at least fifty bucks. So as a teenager, you quickly turn everything into a money-making enterprise. As the mother of a teenager, you realize that you suddenly have your very own, 24-hour in-house service. *SQUEE!*
After all, I deserved a Spring Break too. Not a Spring Breakdown. I set up a chart of everything I could think of that I didn’t want to do over Spring Break, and it was a lot I’m not ashamed to say. And I paid him $2 an hour to do it. And do it he did.
$2 an Hour Jobs that Your Teen Can Do For You:
1. Save your sanity. Teenagers can take younger brothers upstairs and play with them so that you do not plot to sell them both to the circus.
2. Save your back. Teenagers can build complex Lego sets for insistent younger brothers. That’s two Aleve you won’t have to take because you didn’t sit on the floor for 6 hours.
3. Save your hands. Teenagers can do laundry. Dishes. And all such drudge. Pretty princesses shouldn’t have to do drudge. You should paint your fingernails and expect them to stay unscathed for at least a day.
4. Save your schedule. Teenagers can make dinner. It is especially important to include Macaroni-&-Cheese-making and Chicken-Nugget-heating as a primary cooking lesson once kids hit 11. Then you can let them cook dinner every once in awhile.
5. Save your back again. Rake the leaves and sweep the sidewalk. That’s two more Aleve you’re not going to be taking.
6. Clean the toilet. Ok, that’s worth $3 an hour.
The result of my in-house Economic Development? The house is spotless. The 6-yr-old thinks that his big brother hung the moon because he spent 3 hours trying to teach him how to roller skate, made him Macaroni & Cheese, and painstakingly put the Lego Ninjago Fire Palace together.
He even made ME Macaroni & Cheese.
I started to get really used to having my little in-house service around to attend to my every need.
Sadly, Spring Break was finally over and he went back to school. But he was $50 closer to his new laptop. And I was feeling much less overwhelmed. A valuable lesson learned in economics and fair market value for him. A real Spring Break for me.
Now once again my laundry’s piling up and Lego has taken over the living room. I’m looking forward to the return of my much needed in-house service. Spring break can’t come soon enough. I’m off to play bowling ball tennis. Has anyone seen my helmet?
Lea Ann Stundins is a creative consultant, shopping strategist, and blogger at Mommy’s Wish List. You’ll find her not only telling people how not to pay for things, but cursing at Photoshop in her glamorous dining room office. Lea Ann is on twitter @mommyswishlist.