Monday, August 12, 2013

The ever growing menagerie

This is a repost because I thought I had published it and now I can't find it...

It has been one of our goals to teach our kids to be financially responsible. We want them to understand from a young age the value of a dollar, and the value of hard work. We don't give them an allowance, there are chores that they are expected to do as a part of our family. They each have a chore after meals-Vivi washes the table, Journey washes the bench, and Jeb sweeps under and around the table. Jeb also folds/hangs and puts away his laundry. The girls are learning to help with theirs, but it tends to end up with a big game of dress up and less clothes on the shelf than we started with. The girls like to fold and put away washclothes and hand towels.

Beyond that, they do chores to earn coins. We have a cup full of chores written on scraps of paper that could always use repeating, like sweeping, mopping, and dusting rooms in the house, and washing fingerprint covered windows. Occasionally we'll have mandatory chore time, where everyone chooses a chore from the cup and then we spread out to accomplish them. Other times I'll suggest it when someone is bored or if the kids are getting antsy while I cook dinner. If they finish a chore, they get a coin. They like to talk about what they are saving for, and Jeb especially is always asking how much things cost and trying to read price tags at the store. His main goal for the past year has been a puppy, but the temptation of other things sometimes gets in the way, which is a good lesson to learn-if you are saving, but then you spend what you save, you have to start again.

Recently he started asking what other pets there were that did not cost as much as a puppy (thank goodness!) and I told him he had enough for a fish, or a crab, or maybe a frog. We already have an empty fish tank, he would just need to buy the animal and the food it needs. They did a few extra chores last weekend, and we went to the pet shop. Jeb had never been to a pet shop, so it was very exciting for him! We walked through the fish, then down to the crabs and frogs, and Vivi asked where the pets were. I told her fish can be pets, and she said "I don't want a fish, I want a real pet!". I should have known at this point to just stay in the fish section. Just to show them the other animals that you can get at a pet shop, we walked through the reptiles, birds, and other small critters. Then they saw a furry little hamster. "Oh he's so cute!" "How much does he cost?" "Is that the kind of pet you can play with in your hand?" Oh dear. Eric and I mumbled to each other over their heads and decided that they could pool their money and share the hamster. But as we watched him, I didn't think he looked all that active, he sort of just laid there staring at us. We quickly nixed the guinea pigs, and then Eric saw the rats. He has fond memories of having rats as a kid, and the helpful pet shop employee told us that rats are smarter and cleaner and better pets than a hamster. The cleaner part sounded good, but rats need a bigger cage and the cost started going up. We explained the cost of the rat, cage, food, bedding, etc and told them that if they pooled their money and did some extra chores at home to work off the higher cost, they could get a rat.

And so we brought Rainbow home with us that night.

I got home and posted a picture on facebook, and was flooded with people saying that rats can get lonely and depressed if you just have one, and that we should get a buddy. After a quick google, I found that many pet shops and shelters will only let you get 2 rats for that reason. The next morning I told the kids I had good news and bad news. The bad news was that rats can get sad and lonely if they are all alone, and the good news is that we needed to get a rat friend for Rainbow. Oh, the cheers!

And so, now we have Rainbow and Cloudy, and a grid on the fridge with 21 squares next to each kid's name. Before they can earn any more coins to save for anything else, they need to do one chore for each square and pay off these rats. I think when the time comes to buy more food, there may be another small grid on the fridge for them to pitch in again.

So far the rats have actually been fun pets. On day 2, my worry that the cats would kill them was eased when a cat stalked up to the cage and Cloudy bit her on the nose, sending the cat running and pretty grumpy :)

Posted by Picasa

No comments:

Post a Comment