Friday, February 11, 2011

Guest Post from a Professional Organizer: Help for the Overwhelmed Mother

I often speak with moms who are overwhelmed and stressed. They find themselves doing everything to run the house – laundry, meals, errands – while the children and dad are playing video games. Something about this picture is not fair. I firmly believe the family needs to work together.

My boys are now 18 and 22 years old and I am thankful that early in their lives (during preschool years) I was blessed with the tools that helped mold them into the independent young men they are now. One of those tools was Larry Burkett’s book, “The Complete Financial Guide for Young Couples.”  Several chapters in this book are devoted to teaching kids how to handle their finances and I would strongly recommend this book to anyone, whether you have children or not. One of the lessons I learned from his book was the responsibility of parents to teach their children to be good employees. They should learn how to work diligently and how to handle their money.

So at ages 3 and 7, this is what it looked like at our house. We had to find jobs for our kids based upon their abilities to perform. The 3 year old could empty the trash cans in the bathrooms and bedrooms and feed the pets. Our older child had jobs such as unloading the silverware from the dishwasher, setting the table and even separating the laundry. As they grew up, they learned how to do chores that were more difficult such as swapping the clothes from the washer to the dryer. The boys were only given 2-3 regular responsibilities. We had a chart on the refrigerator and for every job they completed they put an “x” on the chart. Each “x” represented 5 cents. We NEVER used this chart or the money they earned as a form of punishment nor did we pay them to pick up their toys or do other tasks that were expected of them.

Occasionally they took the initiative to do their chores without being told and we rewarded them for “seeing the need and meeting the need”. Oftentimes we would tell them to put 2 “x’s” down as a means of reward. I remember several times asking my sons to dust the baseboards paying them 5 “x’s”. It was like a game to them to see who could finish first and the chore became fun. On the other hand, if they ever complained about doing their chore they still had to complete the task, but did not get compensated for it. These small chores provided help for me and the boys learned how to work diligently. It also gave us an opportunity to praise them. Everyone won in this situation. Little did we know then we were setting our kids up for success in so many areas of their lives.

Payday for the boys came every two weeks. They would add up their x’s which usually totaled $1.50 or less. (In later years it might be $5.00.) They were given their savings deposit slips to fill out. They put 50% into their savings, 10% was their tithe and 40% was their money to spend. You would probably think that the 60 cents they had to spend would burn a hole in their pocket, but it never did. They didn’t always have anything in particular they wanted to buy. And when they found a toy they wanted to buy, they could do so because they had their own money. Both the boys bought their own cars when they were seniors in high school. One child actually was able to pay cash for his car.

However, the most amazing result was the generosity they displayed. I can remember our youngest coming home from 1st grade around Christmas one day only to go straight into his room to his wallet. He was frustrated because his class was going to purchase volleyballs through Samaritan’s Purse and the cost was $6/volleyball. In his words he said, “If I had 2 more dollars then I could buy 2 volleyballs.” One other moment I recall was at Christmas when our family decided we would do something special for our garbage man with a special needs child. We discussed this opportunity as a family and our oldest son went into his bedroom and came out with $10 to contribute. We quickly learned that because they showed ownership of their money it did not cause a heart of greed, but rather a heart of selflessness. They learned at a very early age how to give with joy to those who were less fortunate. Today they are still living a life of generosity, looking for opportunities to give to others.

Now that they are away at college, I don’t have to worry about whether they know how to do laundry or even whether they can handle their finances, because they have proven time and time again that they are responsible young men. They learned early how to live within their means and how to share their blessings with others.
Article by Kim Wadkins Pittman, Professional Organizer and owner of Organize 4U in Albany, Georgia


MamaAnt said...

Oooh. Good stuff! Thank you Mrs. Pittman for sharing with us!

I might have to look for that book.

Kathy - mom of many said...

Hi Elizabeth, yes, I did see your post about clearing your bonus room a few weeks ago. Large families can sure accumulate and it's all a matter of proper thinking about stuff.
The books I'm reading right now are helping me have the right attitude about things and their place in life. My transparency seems to have struck a chord with other moms who can relate. I'm happy to be able to encourage them.

Christi Wildman said...

This is so familiar. I am so glad that I did similar things...responsibility really does start VERY early! Or, it's really hard to catch up!

Thanks for sharing this Elizabeth!

Tracey - Just Another Mommy Blog said...

I have GOT to get better about this. We tend to forget. No matter how many times we set up charts or schedules...

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