Our girls have earned themselves a computer and Nintendo ban. I have a system in place which means that they have to do some chores to earn their pocket money. We start at the age of five. At 5, they have to keep their bedrooms tidy. Well, keep is perhaps the wrong word. Their bedroom has to be tidy at some point during the week in order to get their pocket money. Each year a new weekly chore gets added. At 6, mop the kitchen floor; 7, tidy the living room; 8, wash dishes and so on.
Sometimes I wonder whether I’m being too strict. I don’t know of any other children around here who have to do chores of any description. I once heard Miss 7 describe herself to a friend as ‘like Cinderella’. (Said friend promptly went home and asked to be given some chores!) I am certain, though, that they need to learn to do these things, and if I don’t start now, when will it happen? A crash housekeeping course the week before they leave home? The problem is that when they don’t get done, particularly the bedroom tidying, things descend into chaos.
One of the reasons that bedroom tidying is top of the list, chore number one, is that I hate it when they’re messy. Now when I say that, don’t get any ideas about a pristine house or carefully placed ornaments on dust-free shelves. Oh no. By messy I mean having to wade through abandoned clothes to get to the bed. I mean junk spilling out of each doorway and meeting on the landing. I mean breaking toys and pens every time you go in because there is no mess free floor to stand on. Most of all I mean last minute panics because we can’t find a school tie, or a shoe, or a library book.
For the last month they haven’t earned any pocket money. The money has never been much of an incentive and I have almost always had to remind, cajole and become increasingly bad tempered. I have become fed up of spending more time telling them to do something than it would take me to do it myself. I decided that the carrot wasn’t working, but a stick might, hence the Nintendo ban. In fact, even if it doesn’t achieve the desired effect, it might mean they end updoing something more imaginative with their time!