10YO was on a bit of a chore-doing, money-earning roll yesterday. The school’s summer fair was coming up and she wanted extra cash (probably to buy back all the tat we’d donated to the lucky dip stall). The 50p per week pocket money we sometimes remember to give her clearly wasn’t going to go very far, so she spent 40 minutes watering the plants in the garden and doing some ironing, then commenced negotiations with her employers about a fair rate of pay for her labour.
Husband opened the bidding at 40p for 40 minutes work. Unfortunately she’s sufficiently worldly wise to know that the legal minimum wage is in the region of £6 per hour, so a penny a minute was flatly rejected in the manner of the best trade union leaders. I think I actually heard her say “I know my rights” at one point, before she demanded at least £3 for her efforts. Husband and I – feeling oddly miscast as the capitalist bosses – countered that the minimum wage was lower for those under 18, and entirely different rates applied for apprentices, who receive additional benefits such as training – and hadn’t we, after all, taught her how to use the iron and water the plants?
I then offered 50p, which was again laughed off the negotiating table. I was feeling a bit anxious about the effects of escalating pay demands on the overall household economy. If 3YO sees money being handed over for chores, then there’ll be tantrums if she doesn’t get the same, so I’ll be forced to subsidise an inefficient industry consisting of two low-skilled, unproductive domestic cleaners who make more mess than they clear up, then before I know it there’ll be inflation, a three-day week and I’ll have to go cap in hand to the IMF. Or something.
Eventually 10YO rather grudgingly accepted a 100% increase of our original offer, plus a 1p good will bonus. We also agreed that in future if she wants to earn additional pocket money I will pay her £1 for any job from the list of household chores which I ambitiously pinned to the kitchen wall a few weeks ago (then promptly forgot about). That way I’m incentivising her to do jobs which I would find most helpful. I handed over 81p feeling that I’d got off lightly, with 10YO promising to do lots more chores, which I’m pretty sure she’s already forgotten about. But this is another aspect of parenting that’s got me wondering what the general consensus among parents is? Is pocket money a right, or should it be dependent on chores, and if so, how much is a fair payment?