I made a career out of talking to other parents about independence, how it empowers the child, gives them a sense of value and belonging in the home, and lays the groundwork for executive functioning skills. I believed in that with my whole heart. I still do. Enter becoming a mom of 3 and trying just to survive. the. day. Anyone with me? I became guilty of doing too much and not expecting enough just because that was easier. It was my husband who pointed out recently that M was ready for more chores, more responsibilities, and an allowance. As we compiled the list of chores she was (more) capable of doing, I was so grateful for him for steering us in this direction. My Montessori mama hat still fit, and we settled into creating a little program for our very responsible, newly 5 year old M.

My husband is a huge proponent of financial literacy, and he wanted to use this opportunity to teach Molly about money. I wanted her to do her chores because…..life. Intrinsically, that is how we contribute to the family, and I wanted her to feel that. My husband pointed out that he is not expected to go to work and do his job without any compensation. Perhaps it shouldn’t be any different for our 5 year old. He won.

M would receive a quarter any time she completed one of the particular chores. Currently, there are 4 expected each day with the opportunity to earn bonus money for extra things. If she does her chores, great! If not, then no quarter. At the end of the day, she and my husband talk about the chores she did, how many quarters she earned, and how many she should save (in her piggy bank). Her current goal is to save enough for a pink polka dot yoyo. I must admit it’s the sweetest little conversation.

Let me tell you that “corw-ters” as she calls them have lit this girl on fire. She is motivated in a way that I have never seen before. She arrived in our room at 6:10am on the first day, dressed, and reporting what she had already completed. That is quite a way to start your day. She is managing money, time, and expectations. She feels empowered. She feels purposeful. She feels in control. There are plenty of things she does throughout the day simply because they are necessary tasks that don’t result in any quarters, so in that sense, my goal of intrinsic motivation lives on. Most of all, this has taught me something about my child that I didn’t know. I’ve learned what a highly motivated little peanut she is, and how to ignite that drive and determination even more so. I’m so glad I let my husband lead this charge, and that I let go of some of my preconceived ideas. Sometimes what works in the classroom doesn’t translate directly to the home, and being a mom has taught me that’s okay.

Often times holding back and letting someone else lead can end up teaching us so much. I’ll be here on the sidelines collecting quarters and being a very proud mom.

Find the joy~