The Maths of Motherhood!

Bear with me!

This is the (fairly simple) equation that has prevented me from a life of pure insanity.

pocketmoney + chores = power

(plus or minus)

Asking a child to make their bed or clean their room, is like asking a man to do the grocery shopping or the laundry. It may get done but in their own time.

That’s okay if you are on a holiday, but not if you are trying to run a household.

Not all of my friends pay their children pocketmoney and have worked out their own methods of madness control, but I did and it worked for me.

So while it initially took a bit of trial and error, (read tears and agro) it has proven to be a threefold winner.

a) chores get done

b) kids learn how to save and budget


c) I don’t have to cry and scream (as much)

This is the first time I’ve written it up as a table, it was just in my head and layers were added as I went along.


AGE CHORE TOTAL $ per week SAVE $per week DEDUCT(chores not done)
Under 10 Make bed daily $ 3 $1 20-50c per day
10-highschool(approx 13) Make bed+1 family chore eg empty dishwasher or feed dog $5 $2 $1
First 2 years of highschool (approx 13-15) Make bed+1 family chore

+wash and iron own clothes

$15 $5 $2 after a noof warnings

up to $5

– end of highschool Make bed+ family chore

+wash and iron own clothes

+make own lunches

$25 Own discretion $5

I’m not sure it makes it any clearer to you, but I will again bear with me.

Starting primary school or about the age of 6, the girls had to make their beds everyday.

If they did, at the end of the week I would hand out $3. They got to keep $2 and we would go and spend it on an ice-cream or coloured pencil and together we would put $1 into a self-chosen piggy bank.

I have a green pig and a hello kitty to this day.

Now they may not ‘get’ the whole value of the dollar deal at that age, but like you are with me, bear with it.

If they didn’t do their job (and yes for a while, there is a level of nagging associated with this position) I would take some money off their spend pocketmoney, not their save.

So they might not get the ice-cream they wanted but a small lollipop instead and hopefully they made the beds often enough to put $1 into the pig.

A dream child would save their weekly $2 and buy something more substantial, but I never experienced that.

At double digits, aged 10, they got a promotion and pay rise. More money more jobs.

By now they are starting to get a real scent for cents, and when that happens the equation shifts in your favour.

Some of the family jobs included, emptying the dishwasher, dogs, which involved washing, feeding and walking, emptying bins and vacuuming.

These jobs had to be done for a month. Everytime a job wasn’t done, (usually I would limit my asking to twice) I would make that cash register sound  “ch-ching” and tell them I was deducting $1.

I did give them a fair few chances, because at the sound of the ‘ch-ching” they would rush to do their job.

I stayed with the method of cash and the pig and once or twice a year we would go to the bank and deposit their savings.

Are you still bearing?

Next level highschool.

And believe it or not, they couldn’t wait to do their own washing and ironing. (This job wasn’t on my radar before step children and my family expanded to 7, but I highly recommend it, especially for large families.)

It wasn’t because of the wonderful sniff of independence, no, just the whiff of capitalism. More pocket money!!

This time, some of the punishment is inherent in the chore. Don’t do the washing, don’t have any clean clothes.

If they ignored ironing their school uniforms…”ch-ching”. (I wasn’t really bothered about the cut-off denim shorts.  Even if they were ironed, they looked like they needed it anyway)

Sometimes when I was exhausted or couldn’t face an argument I would pretend not to notice if their uniform was un-ironed. They thought they were clever and I was just firmer next time when not so fatigued with my cash register cry.

I still physically handed out the money for the first year, so they had in their hot little hands $10 every week and I would deposit $5 into their now-expanding savings account.

For the final years of highschool, now earning a massive $25 a week, the girls got to choose how much I put into their savings account and how much went into a recently-opened access account where they got their first debit card and a pin number. How very grown-up.

It meant they had to start being responsible for what they spent and how much they saved.

At this stage I added to the equation. Or I suppose minused.

I stopped paying for much of their entertainment and wants. So if they went to the movies, they paid. If they wanted tuckshop, they bought it. If they just had to have the new pink shirt with cut-out back, their call.

This is where the power of the “ch-ching” really became mighty. A “ch-ching” could mean the difference between a new frock or borrowing one from a sister. (and there were a lot more price tags on that)

If the girls added up how much money they’ve lost over the years for choosing not to do their chores I reckon they’d be shocked.

I know that while I have saved some cash over the years, I couldn’t count the number of times a simple deduction of pocketmoney, saved me from a screaming match.

And one more thing, the 2 girls that have now left highschool have thousands in their savings account. The other 3 have close to it.

Like they say, power is money.

2 Comments on “The Maths of Motherhood!

  1. I have to print out your entry so I can follow with a highlighter! Thanks for doing all the hard thinking for me. Carrie


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