Did you know that my family has a weekly family meeting? It’s usually on Sunday afternoons and we have done it ever since Zuzu was in kindergarten. Once JR turned five this past January, he was allowed to participate in Family Meeting as well. I know my friends smile at me behind my back for being so dogmatic about it. They think it is another manifestation of my control freak nature. But my husband and I believe very strongly in the role of our family meetings in keeping the kids up-to-date on what is going on any given week and in having a regular forum to discuss both positive and negative developments.
What happens in our family meetings, you may ask. They start with me going over the schedule for the week. If my husband is going out of town; if I have an evening meeting; if the kids have play dates or lessons — all of these things are discussed and written down on the family calendar, which sits in the kitchen. Next up is Kudos: everyone in the family has to give kudos to everyone else for something positive that they did in the past week. After the good news comes the bad news: we discuss any issues or problems that came up during the past week. Were the kids bickering? (Always a yes.) Did Zuzu argue about doing her homework or practicing piano? Did JR have a tantrum about screen time? We can discuss problems in a calm, rational way at family meeting because we are not caught up in the moment.
The last part of family meeting is when we give the kids their allowances. My husband and I believe that it is important to give the kids a regular allowance to teach them fiscal responsibility. The weekly allowance is not tied to doing any special chores, but rather is designed to teach them to save and spend wisely. Of course, the kids can always earn extra money by doing additional chores if they are saving up for something special. Right now, Zuzu is saving up for a Chicago BlackHawks jersey and is close to her goal. She has saved up for big-ticket items in the past and knows how satisfying it is to buy a coveted item with her own savings. JR, at 5, has just started collecting an allowance and his money burns a hole in his pocket. But we are hoping that he will start to learn the benefits of saving.
Kids and allowance is a touchy subject. A lot of my friends, especially those with younger children, want to assign their kids chores and let them earn allowance, but they don’t know where to start. I recently learned about an online site called My Job Chart that helps parents assign their kids chores and rewards kids when they complete those chores. My Job Chart was created by Gregg Murset, a dad of six kids who is also a financial planner. His goal was to give parents easy-to-use tools to teach their kids responsibility and the satisfaction of earning rewards for a job well done. At the same time, My Job Chart teaches kids about saving, sharing — or charitable giving — and spending wisely.
I think the concept behind My Job Chart is brilliant. Parents create a free online chore chart on My Job Chart, with points attached to each chore. The kids log in to the site and see the list of chores. As they complete the chores, they earn points. The points can then be saved, shared with charitable partners, or spent at an integrated Amazon store. Obviously, this allows parents to start a dialogue with their kids about saving and about why it is important to give to charity. But I also like how the list of chores is posted on the site, which saves you, the parent, from having to tell the kids each time and see the inevitable eye rolls and pouts when you say: “Make your bed.” With My Job Chart, the kids take responsibility for checking the list of chores and completing them, and then they immediately see the benefit of their effort when they earn points. Plus, they can do it online, and we all know that kids love to play with technology.
We have not yet tried My Job Chart with JR and Zuzu because our summer schedule has not allowed it. But we are big believers in the philosophy that My Job Chart promotes: sharing the work of the house, teaching kids the satisfaction of a job well done and fiscal responsibility. When Zuzu returns home and we get some semblance of our routine back, I will tell her about My Job Chart and see if she wants to try it. I have a feeling that she will love the idea. Do they sell hockey jerseys on Amazon?
Learn more about My Job Chart here. Or you can click on the button on the top right hand corner.My Job Chart is a sponsor of West of the Loop. I am being compensated for helping to spread the word about the site.