April 13, 2016
Summer Clean Up

Summer is here. I was in my yard yesterday looking at all that needs to be done to clean it up. Every fall all the leaves get raked and bushes trimmed and then the snow melts and it looks like nothing was done last fall. This time of year I miss, on some level, having all the kids home.

They, the kids, would say that Jim and I used slave labor(them). Not true, but there was the time where we had them rake a few older neighbor's yards, not a very happy day for Maggie (she looks miserable-I guess everyone else liked helping?!).

We preferred to think of it as being a part of the family, being fed, clothed, and educated. Many years ago, Jim and I took a class about raising Champion Kids. It was a great class and we really got into that program.

We came home and made house rules—only 5. Then we made each child a book of jobs.  "A" jobs were jobs you did because you were a member of the family, no compensation and "B" jobs were those that had compensation attached. Some of those "B" jobs were hourly. The children were given steno pads, (our version of time cards), they were responsible for entering the date, job, hours, if applicable, and then presenting these pads to Jim at the end of each week to get paid. They did not get paid if they did not present the steno pad to Jim. They were given half of the money earned and the other half went into a savings account.

The paid "B" jobs were mowing the grass, weeding, washing the floors, and babysitting, etc. These were hourly, except for mowing the lawn. We did some realignment of pricing when one of our kids announced that it took him 6 1/2 hours to do the lawn. We have a VERY small lawn, that job changed to a fixed amount.

The unpaid "A" jobs, were making your own bed, cleaning your room, setting and clearing the table and doing the dishes. I was the job monitor, I made the decision whether the job was completed appropriately. That should have been a high salaried position as it took many hours of negotiation and patience.

The person that taught the Champion Kid class, made a point of saying that you pay your kids, what you would pay someone you hired for the same job. It is only fair, and the girls made the same as the boys. We were way ahead of our time.

This worked for us and the kids. The age of the child was the indicator of wage scale, we had a small cost of living increase every year.   So if you were 12 years old your starting pay could be $1.50 per hour and if you were 4 years old you could make $0.25 per hour.

The family rules were:

  1. Treat everyone as you want to be treated
  2. Keep your hands to yourself
  3. You need to knock, before entering someone else’s room
  4. Ask to borrow anything that does not belong to you, BEFORE you use it.
  5. If there is a disagreement both parties are responsible, and will face whatever happens together.

These were guides, sometimes they worked, sometimes not; but they were in place and could be referred to when needed.

Picking Strawberries at Lutsen, for Jim's homemade jam was one of the worst jobs, as it took hours to pick enough berries to make even one jar of jam. 

I found a card as I was looking for the ‘slave labor’ photos. It is a Mother’s Day card from Nell, I think she was in college and could not be home to celebrate. The card read-

"The best way to keep your children out of hot water- is to put some dishes in it."

Bullet Points

  • If you have jobs to do try,within reason, to make them fun. They are still jobs, but the positive spin makes them easier to sell. I was not good at this, I liked the finished product in a timely fashion.
  • Keep things simple. As kids get older they can understand and handle more responsibility. 
  • Do work things together when you can. Don't ask your kids to do something that you would not do yourself.
Colleen Ryan