Sunday, February 21, 2016

There is no such thing as a free lunch

Does anyone remember this from economics?

I  remember when my Econ teacher taught me what the cost of a free lunch actually was. As he crushed all my philosophical dreams about the world with the cold hard truth about money and the way the world actually worked, I tried to keep in mind that this once very tall and handsome professor was now an very tall, unshaven, unkempt man who was in the midst of a pretty nasty divorce so his opinion was a little jaded.

All this to say that a few months ago I was doing the usual. By usual I mean being completely overwhelmed because I was working all day then coming home to clean the house, feed the dog, make dinner, more clean, yada, yada. As I passed by the living room with a load of my son's laundry that I had picked up off his floor, washed, folded and was now on the way to put up, I saw my son on the couch starring mindlessly at an electronic with not a care in the world, And then I remembered that professor. I remembered that lesson on what a free lunch actually costs. In this case, the cost was me running myself ragged as my son sat there and played hours of Minecraft on his iPad.

I decided to make a change. I couldn't quite figure out exactly what I wanted him to do but I decided that day that his free lunch was over. I have since tested out different responsibilities trying to determine what works best. I've talked to friends with children his age and a little older for advice on what's appropriate.

My decision was this. He will earn $6 per week for doing his chores without complaint. I chose $6 because that is his age. It just seemed like a good place to start. He will be responsible for completely all his chores without being asked and I will check them off at the end of the night. I will deduct $1 for every whiny tantrum during the week. He will now be responsible for buying his own extra stuff. Examples: buying extra games in addition to what we bought him for Christmas, buying extra valentine's day treats on top of what he bought him to give to his classmates.

I found a cute free chore template on Pinterest that I printed and wrote in his chores. Last week went very good. I did have to threaten to take away $1 due to a homework tantrum but he straighten up and finished his assignment. I also made him pay me $1 to download a Minecraft expansion pack which he did gladly.

I think that ending that free lunch ride was the best thing I ever did. I had no idea that one lesson in economics from 10 years ago would be so beneficial later in life.

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