January 30th, 2011



Karin is obsessed with earning money right now...she wants to earn enough for a Playstation 3, which we've refused to buy, since we already have a Wii and PC games galore and they each have DS to boot. We had a Playstation 2, bought used from a friend of ours, for awhile 2 years ago, until it broke, but I already feel like the kids spend enough time playing games on the various screens in the house (including their phones) and don't see the need for yet another game console.

A couple of years ago, we decided it was time to start with allowance, and the kids know that part of how they earn their allowance is by doing the chores they're asked to, willingly and promptly, and for the most part, they are really good about it.

They pick up their rooms (when told), make their beds, dust and vacuum. They set and clear the table and fill and empty the dishwasher. They put their clothes in the hampers, and put their own clothes away when the laundry is done. They help with grocery shopping and putting food away. And they empty the waste baskets and put recycleables in the bins. In addition to all that, they know to help when asked with anything else. So far, it's worked out fairly well and they've collected their 100 kronor a month for allowance with no issues.

We've decided it's also time to raise the allowance a bit, after 2 years, as they are older now, and they do help out more around the house than they used to, although the grinchy part of me thinks, "Hey! I do a heck of a lot of housework and such and nobody is paying ME to do it!"

But lately, Karin's urgency to buy a Playstation 3 is getting a little manic, because she's so close. She had done her research, I'll grant her that. She's checked how much a new one costs and decided to try finding a used one on Blocket. She's awfully close to having enough for that, and on Friday she was calling me at work to ask me what chores she could do to earn money for. Some time ago, I had written a list of "extras" that both kids could refer to, to earn money, that were sort of above and beyond the regular chores. They include things like weeding, mowing, snow shoveling, washing windows, but the list isn't very long, because frankly, I was having trouble coming up with stuff that they could do.

So when she called and asked, I told her she could clean both toilets, inside and out. She could get the rotten pumpkin from the front door into the trash (for a minimum fee) and she could wash windows. Which she proceeded to do! If you've never been to our house, we have a LOT of windows: a grand total of 25. Most of the windows are approximately 90x120cm: there are 13 of those, and 5 that are half that size. Then there are 2 skinny floor-to-almost-ceiling ones, and 3 full-size floor-to-ceiling ones and 2 full size glass doors. That's a LOT of window-washing.

I'll tell you a secret: I HATE washing windows. So much so, that I think the outside windows have only been washed a few times and always by my in-laws. I know, I know. However, they're now too old to volunteer for such things, so we have to pony up and do it ourselves...and it's, well, not been happening. Anyway, Karin decided that was the PERFECT chore and she washed every single window INSIDE the house yesterday, and has plans to do the outsides as soon as it's above freezing. Whee! Child labor at its finest.

At one point, however, she was moaning about how it was really unfair that we wouldn't just BUY the Playstation 3 FOR her, and I gave her the hairy eyeball and said, "Who exactly is it that is providing your allowance, kid? And who is paying you for all the extra chores?" That shut her up and, I hope, gave her a little perspective.

But what I wonder is, apart from things like newspaper routes and babysitting (which I won't let her do until she's at least 12, and which isn't actually as easy to do here in Sweden as it is in the States) and possibly dog-walking/sitting (which we usually do for free), the only other options for the kids to earn any money are to sell things from door-to-door, like the Christmas catalogs or majblommor, which they don't earn much doing. I suppose we could sell stuff they want to get rid of at a flea market instead of donating it as we usually do, but in my experience the money you make at such communal flea markets as they have here in Sweden is seldom worth the time or effort and you usually spend just as much as you make buying crap there yourself.

So, we're back to chores, I guess. And I'm looking for ideas on what else I can offer as a money-making opportunity. I've thought about cleaning out the attic, though that would require adult help, and Anders suggested they could help with the loading up of the stuff to go to the dump that is currently sitting in the garage (again, with adult help), but I'm at a bit of a loss as to what else I can suggest. Any ideas?

*Hee! I loved this quote! (title quote by James Goldsmith)