Do your kids do chores? Household chores for kids don’t just help you get things done, they also have many benefits for the kids who are doing them! Dr. Deborah Gilboa (“Ask Doctor G”) tells us how she manages this with her four kids, and how it ultimately helps her enjoy her family more.
Would you rather have a transcript of the episode?
There’s one at the bottom of the post!
Why kids should do chores
Trying to get kids to do chores can be a major pain. I know that I’ve fallen into the habit of just cleaning and tidying a lot of things myself that my kids should be doing, because it seems easier to just do it than to teach someone else to do it, then remind them endlessly for years to come.
But our awesome guest this week on the Parenting Bytes podcast, Dr. Deborah Gilboa, says that it doesn’t have to be that way. She manages to get her four boys to do their chores without nagging them. Not only does it free up some of her time, but it teaches her kids so many things beyond the oft-stated “responsibility.”
Chores do teach responsibility, but they also teach your children that you value them and think that they can do things: “The best part about chores is it gives you an opportunity to prove to your kid that you have real faith in what they’re capable of and their competence, and that you’re willing to rely on them.”
Age appropriate chores
Dr. Gilboa—or Doctor G as she is known—has a rather brilliant system for assigning her age-appropriate chore list. Instead of divvying up the house chores using a chart or wheel or something like that, she’s divided them up by age.
When you hit the age for doing laundry (you won’t believe what age that is in her house!!), you do that job until you age out of it. Each kid in her household made all of the school lunches for two years, from the age of nine to eleven!
And she started early, too. Even the toddlers had jobs, which they took very seriously. I think one of the keys to her success was starting before they were old enough to realize that they were doing work! Or, as Doctor G says, “Start them when they still want to help.”
Allowance for chores?
Doctor G also tackles a topic that I see discussed all over the internet: should children be paid for chores?
She said that for a lot of topics, she doesn’t like to dictate how things are done in different families. But for this question she was firm: children should not be paid an allowance in exchange for doing their chores.
She has several really good reasons for this, so you should listen to the episode!
Ask Doctor G
So who exactly is Dr. Gilboa? Here’s her bio.
Internationally respected parenting and youth development expert, Deborah Gilboa, MD, is the founder of AskDoctorG.com. Popularly known as Dr. G, she is an industry leading speaker, author, social influencer, and media personality. She inspires audiences with relatable stories and easy tools to develop crucial life skills in children, teens and young adults ages 2-22.
Her beloved, user-friendly parenting activity books, Teach Resilience: Raising Kids Who Can Launch!, Teach Responsibility: Empower Kids with a Great Work Ethic, and Teach Respect: That’s My Kid! are designed for today’s busy parents with age-specific tips and ideas for building character in kids. Dr. G is also the author of the critically acclaimed book, How to Get the Behavior You Want… Without Being the Parent You Hate! Dr. G’s Guide to Effective Parenting (Demos Publishing, LLC), which breaks down 60 key challenges faced by parents of kids primarily in their pre-teen years.
As a television personality, Dr. G gives straightforward advice (with a dose of humor) that helps wade through the stress, doubt, and guilt that ALL parents feel at one time or another. She is a regular on NBC’s TODAY and has appeared on numerous other local and national television talk shows and News programs throughout the U.S, including The Doctors, The Hallmark Channel’s Home and Family, Good Morning America, Fox News, and The Rachael Ray Show. Additionally, she regularly contributes to Today.com, Huffington Post Parents, Your Teen magazine, Parents magazine and MSNBC.com.
Dr. G is a board-certified attending family physician at Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill Health Center, caring for diverse patients from 100+ countries, speaking 61 different languages. Her fluency in American Sign Language and her work with the deaf community has received national recognition and was the focus of her service as an Albert Schweitzer Fellow.
A graduate of University of Pittsburgh’s School of Medicine, Carnegie Mellon University, and as an alumnus of Chicago’s Second City Improv Theater, Dr. G’s diverse background and experiences add to her credibility and lively storytelling.
She is also a Clinical Associate Professor for the University of Pittsburgh School Of Medicine and has received many awards for clinical excellence in teaching, including the Alpha Omega Alpha Volunteer Clinical Faculty Award.
Dr. G resides in Pittsburgh with her four boys.
Doctor G had a ton of useful tips in the podcast itself, but we also want to share some of her additional resources with you.
Free chore chart
You can click here to join Doctor G’s mailing list, which will give you access to lots of great info, including a free downloadable chart that divides out chores for kids by age.
Tips for uninterested kids
What if, no matter what you do, you just can’t get your kid to do his chores? Doctor G has some additional advice.
Super helpful videos
This Week’s Links
Dr. Deborah Gilboa, Ask Doctor G
Interview with Deborah Gilboa, aka Dr. G (00:01:40)
Bytes of the Week (00:33:57)
Have you subscribed to our podcast? Never miss an episode! If you’re already a subscriber, we’d really appreciate a rating and review.
Are you following us on Facebook? It’s a great way to see what we’re reading (including articles that might show up in future episodes), ask us questions, and give us feedback.
Amy: [00:00:19] Hi.
Rebecca: [00:00:21] Hi! And Andrea Smith, our Technology Guru Extraordinaire.
Andrea: [00:00:26] Hey!
Rebecca: [00:00:26] Hello.
Andrea: [00:00:27] Hello.
Rebecca: [00:00:28] I’m so excited for today’s show. Today on the show we have Doctor Deborah Gilboa who is also known as “Doctor G.” She is a parenting and youth development expert. She is a speaker. She’s been on TV. She is just like amazing because she not only is truly an expert about parenting and all these things but she has four sons. And from what I can tell has done a pretty extraordinary job raising them. And so we’re gonna have her on today talking about chores and giving her kids responsibility. And you know all these things that she has so much insight and I feel like such a different take. Don’t you guys agree. She has a different take on doing these things it isn’t just you know “make your kid take out the garbage because then they you know have to do something.”
Amy: [00:01:23] I think it’s the take of somebody who has practical experience with it instead of just like a study.
Andrea: [00:01:29] Someone who’s living at.
Rebecca: [00:01:31] Yeah. It’s like so different than just hearing someone speak in hypotheticals. So we’re gonna have her on the show and then we will have our Bytes of the Week.
Interview with Doctor G
Rebecca: [00:01:40] So we are here now with Doctor Deborah Gilboa, a.k.a. Doctor G, our parenting in youth development expert who’s joining us today. And I have to say I cannot believe it’s taken us this long to have you on the show.
Doctor G: [00:01:55] I’m so excited to have this conversation with you both.
Rebecca: [00:01:58] We have been talking about having you on, especially Amy because Amy did something with you, I traveled with you in Israel, like so it’s been at least a year and a half so I’m embarrassed that it took this long but we are really happy to have you.
Doctor G: [00:02:11] Thank you.
Teaching college kids how to do laundry
Rebecca: [00:02:12] And you know one of the reasons we had you on today was because you put up a video recently of your 8 year old doing laundry that I- you would think your 8 year old built a rocket ship and went to Mars before Elon Musk because it’s went viral to a degree that was hilarious. Everyone was like, “my 17 year old can’t do this, my husband doesn’t do this, I can barely do laundry.” Like so we’re like “Oh my God this is ridiculous. We have to have her on” because I- I don’t even know what to say. But it was really impressive.
Doctor G: [00:02:49] So it’s really interesting because putting that video up wasn’t my idea. It was his. So let me let me tell you the story and then if you guys want to talk about that background I’m happy to do that. But the story is that I see patients on Sunday mornings pretty often. And so I often have a babysitter coming over to hang out with my younger kids and this baby sitter comes over on a Sunday morning and says, “Hey Doctor G, can I take the boys to the park?” And I say, because I’m the meanest mom ever, “Sure. As soon as they finish their chores.” So she turns to my children, who were standing upright like normal human children, and says, “What chores you guys have to do?” And my 8 year old slumps over with the weight of the world on his shoulders and says, “I have to finish the laundry.” [Rebecca laughing] And she, before I can say anything because I’m embarrassed the way he’s acting, she says, “Oh my gosh, I’m in college and I have friends who don’t know how to do the laundry. You do the laundry?” and he pops up all proud and says “Yeah. Aren’t they embarrassed?” [laughter] So, so he turns to me because he knows I have a YouTube channel where I put up a video every week or two that’s a minute or two long encouraging people about different youth development or parenting things. And he says, “You know you should put up a video teaching college students how to do the laundry.” But I’m no idiot. So I say, “No sweetheart, YOU should put up a video teaching college students do the laundry.”
Rebecca: [00:04:14] Oh my God.
Doctor G: [00:04:15] And he was like, “Really?” So a couple of weeks later he got a bunch of props together, like a laundry basket and actual laundry and quarters and soap and all that. And we go to a laundromat because nobody needs to see my basement on the Internet. [laughter] And we go to a laundromat. And I just held the camera. Like he, he was like, “Should I write a script?” And I was like, “Whatever you want to do.” So I held the camera for about probably about six minutes altogether. We edited it down to about two and a half. And he just looked at the camera and in the middle of this busy Pittsburgh laundromat teaches college students to do the laundry and my favorite moment is when he puts the lid of the washer down and he turns to the camera. He’s having a great time, right? He turns to the camera and then a little crestfallen, he’s like, “Oh. Now you have to wait.” [laughter] But then in an unscripted moment his eyes pop open real big and he goes, But you’re in college. You should probably do your homework.” [laughter]
Amy: [00:05:08] He is such a natural.
Andrea: [00:05:10] That is adorable.
Doctor G: [00:05:12] Well he was really dismayed because his dad and I both shared stories about college experiences of people going and buying new underwear when they ran out of clean laundry.
Rebecca: [00:05:20] Yep. A hundred percent.
Doctor G: [00:05:21] And he thought that was… I don’t know why but that just offended his soul. [Rebecca laughing]
Andrea: [00:05:29] So I know you said that you have four children. So where is he in the pecking order.
Doctor G: [00:05:34] He’s the third.
Andrea: [00:05:36] OK.
When can kids start doing laundry?
Doctor G: [00:05:36] So I started this when my eldest- You know a lot of things that you do with a with a bunch of kids like this you don’t think of what the first one, but I actually was waiting for my eldest to turn 7 which is when in our family you get a big privilege, which is your own email account, because their dad is in the Air Force so this way they can be in touch with him more easily and not have to wait for me and my computer and all that, so you get a big privilege. But you also get a big responsibility. You do the family laundry once a week on Sundays.
Amy: [00:06:02] Oh so it’s not just their own laundry, they’re doing everybody’s laundry.
Doctor G: [00:06:06] Yes. So that, I mean-
Andrea: [00:06:07] So you trust them with your laundry? [Amy laughing]
Doctor G: [00:06:10] First of all I have to tell you that of the six people who’ve lived in this home, two of us have pinked the laundry and none of them are too young to vote. So messing up the laundry is not simply the purview of kids, and also, and when parents push back at me about this, like, “What makes you think a 7 year old could do the laundry?” There’s, sometimes the laundry is heavy. If you have a top loading washer and a little seven year old it can be heavy to lift that wet stuff into the dryer without dropping it all over the floor. So I agree that some kids need some technical assistance, but as far as working the washer, very few washing machines are more complicated than an iPad. Nobody is surprised when a 7 year old can use an iPad.
Amy: [00:06:51] OK. But my husband shrunk- He washed a wool suit of mine in 1990 and I haven’t let him touch my laundry since. So you’re-
Doctor G: [00:07:00] I bet he’s super pleased about that. [laughter] That might be the smartest thing he ever did.
Amy: [00:07:04] That might have been his plan all along. It worked out pretty well for him.
Doctor G: [00:07:07] Even if it was accidental. I mean, listen, do I put my really super delicate things that need extra attention into my laundry basket? I don’t.
Rebecca: [00:07:14] Right. That makes sense.
Doctor G: [00:07:16] But the bulk of the laundry, the towels and the sheets and the kids clothes and my regular clothes and work out- they can do all that.
Amy: [00:07:24] And six people’s laundry. That’s no joke.
Doctor G: [00:07:27] And there are things of theirs that after they’ve worn them I don’t want to touch. [Amy laughing] So this works out really well because they have far less scruples about that.
Rebecca: [00:07:35] I wonder if it teaches them also not to put everything in the laundry the second they wear it. Like my daughters that is my biggest complaint with them. I’m like you wore a pair of jeans once. They don’t now go in the wash. Like you’re not rolling in the mud. I mean maybe your boys are sometimes but like-
Doctor G: [00:07:50] I think it does teach them. It also teaches them that thing that I don’t know how else to teach and that is to empty your pockets.
Andrea: [00:07:56] Oh yes that’s a big one. Gum, tissues.
Doctor G: [00:08:01] Because when they have to do a load through the dryer a second time or deal with the lint filter when something has just disintegrated they learn much more of an object lesson than me saying 70,000 times, “Empty your pockets.”
Rebecca: [00:08:15] They’re gonna be such good husbands. [laughter]
Doctor G: [00:08:18] I have to admit that one of the reasons that my kids do the width and breadth of chores that they do, and it’s not the primary reason, but it’s definitely a motivator, is that I never want to hear one of their partners say to me, “Do you know that your son can’t even…” anything.
Andrea: [00:08:32] I will tell you it’s a really good feeling because my son’s girlfriend says he’s an amazing cook. He’s great at taking care of the house. And I didn’t- I guess I never trusted him with the laundry but I used to fold the laundry and leave all the socks and underwear in the laundry basket and his job was to sort the socks, put them altogether, roll them, and deliver them to everybody’s bed. And he was pretty good at it and he learned how to do his own laundry and in college he was like the only kid who could do his own laundry and cook.
The chores you don’t want your kids to do
Amy: [00:09:02] Like my kids they do their own laundry but they do their own laundry like I still don’t watch them- want them touching mine. I don’t, I don’t know how to get over that. But at least they’re doing theirs.
Doctor G: [00:09:11] And I think that’s totally reasonable. When I talked to parents about chores I often say, most people have a thing or two that nobody else could do to their satisfaction. And while I think that you need to teach your kid what every single skill in your home that you want them to have when they leave your home, you don’t have to leave “that” in their hands. Like I have a woman that I know who, beds just have to be made a certain way, and she doesn’t feel relaxed in her home unless all the beds are made that way. So although I do think her kids should learn to make a bed, I was like, “Hey, stay in charge of bed making. If that makes you feel better.” For me it’s my kitchen counters. Nobody can straighten my kitchen counters to my satisfaction but me, so my kids have to know how to wash down the counters and how to straighten the kitchen. But I don’t leave that is anybody’s responsibility but mine because it’s pretty discouraging to give a kid a chore and then go behind them and redo it right away every time.
Rebecca: [00:10:04] Yeah that’s just demoralizing, right?
Doctor G: [00:10:06] It’s not only demoralizing-
Rebecca: [00:10:06] That defeats the whole purpose.
Doctor G: [00:10:07] It’s just, they’re practical people. They’re going to be like, “OK. Peace out. Why would I put in the effort if you’re going to, if you’re going to reload the dishwasher after I after I load it.” And that’s what I point at a lot of parents about because especially moms I think had this thing that like, I’m going to spend half an hour unloading and reloading the dishwasher so that I can fit in two extra plates it would have taken me three minutes to rinse and wash and dry.
Are kids too busy to do chores?
Amy: [00:10:31] Oh you’ve been watching me. [Doctor G laughing] So one thing that you said that really really struck me because it was like you were talking about me, was, you said that a lot of parents, I forget how you phrased it, you basically said that a lot of parents use the excuse that their kids are too busy for chores, like they’ve got rehearsals and they’ve got practices and you don’t want to give them chores on top of that. Can you talk about that a bit? Because I feel like I use that as an excuse to say, well, they’re not sitting around, you know, like they’re out doing things so it’s OK if they’re not home doing chores.
Doctor G: [00:11:06] And some of it I think is genuine empathy, right. We see how sometimes stressed or busy they are, we want them to get a chance to relax and we don’t want to always, we don’t wanna spend the little time they have at home being like, “Hey, you gotta do this, did you do this, did you do that.” And also they are genuinely, they are genuinely doing a lot of things and working really hard. And, I appreciate the parents and we really want to look at our kids’ whole lives and see where chores would fit. But it’s more than just saying, anything they need to know how to do when they leave we’ve got to teach them to do what they live with us. There are a couple of other really good reasons to get kids involved in chores. And one is, this is an important balance that we all have to learn. There’s, at no time in our lives can we say for more than a week, “You know my life is too busy so I can’t take out the garbage, clean my clothes, make sure I have groceries.” We all as adults have to find that balance of doing the things that we have to do for others and also making sure that our own home is running at the bare minimum. And so practicing that when they’re not in it alone, when they’ve got us as backup, when they can get more strategies or, to be honest, mess it up without major consequences is pretty valuable practice, especially by high school. But there’s one other thing and that is some research that shows how important it is for teenagers to feel needed by their family, not just wanted or loved which is of course also really important, but needed. When we ask teenagers how much time, how much of their free time they choose to spend with their family, this really interesting thing happens. Kids who have chores, not just stuff for their- not not just doing their own laundry or cleaning their own room but things that contribute to the smooth running of their household, those kids on average choose to spend twice as much of their free time with their family.
Amy: [00:13:03] Huh. That’s really interesting because you know our kids have chores but they’re not huge. You know it’s things like bagging up the recycling and taking out the garbage and you know their own laundry, their own rooms. And we all do kind of retreat to our corners as a family.
Doctor G: [00:13:22] And that isn’t a bad thing for people to do, right. There’s not- that’s not- There’s nothing wrong with that as a pattern, but them knowing that like, “Hey, the recycling gets bagged up and taken out because I take the time to do it,” even a little kid- So, I- one of the things people push on me is when when do I start chores. And I say start them when they still want to help, right? [Amy laughing] When they’re two years old and three years old and they say, “What can a kid that age really do.” And you often have to be creative. But there are things they can do that you won’t have to redo. Little kids can go take all the hand towels and kitchen towels, you know bath bathroom hand towels and kitchen towels and toss them in a laundry basket. They’re really good at pulling things down. [Amy laughing] In my house when my kids are really little, whoever was youngest would be toilet paper police. They would be the person that you would call out to if you needed a new roll of toilet paper. And my littlest one, you’d have to wait a while because he wanted to put on his policeman’s hat [laughter] and he wanted to make the siren noise and you’d be like, I just need the toilet paper. But it was a production. But when you need that toilet paper you NEED that person and being needed is really valuable for humans. We need to know, we we deal better in community when we know that we are integral, and so helping our kids see and feel that they’re integral through their work and not just through the glory of their presence, you know just not just for being themselves, really builds their confidence and their competence. And those are two really important ingredients in adults’ happiness.
Age appropriate chore list
Amy: [00:14:55] And so at at what ages you know in your practice and in your own family which is like its own focus group at what ages have you had the kids doing certain chores, like what do you think they can handle when.
Doctor G: [00:15:08] So I gave you a couple of examples of things that even three year olds can do, and three year olds hold dust pans and three year olds wipe with paper towels really well. And, you know, so when- and even if it’s not a chore that comes up every day, if cleaning up a spill you know your 2 year old or 3 year old is incapable of really cleaning up the spilled milk, they can do the paper towel, throw it in the garbage part and then you do the mopping part, so you can split it up and still have them do something that you don’t then come behind them and immediately redo and give them that, that learned helplessness, so, that we’re trying to avoid with this.
Amy: [00:15:41] So it’s more like, this is your part of the job, this is my part of the job.
Doctor G: [00:15:44] Exactly. We work together as a team. I need your help. Even if it’s just you bring the garbage can and hold it close so I can more easily dump the dust in. But I need you to do your part. So that’s something that you can work hard- little kids if you’re the kind of home where people kick off their shoes when they come in the door, Any child who’s old enough to play a matching game with cards is old enough to play a matching game with shoes and can set the shoes together in pairs more neatly, or deliver them to the correct bedrooms if that’s what you’d like to do. And as kids get older I had- my son was 4 and he had a friend who was playing with him, another 4 year old, and they were playing in my front hall because we have a playroom so why not play in the front hall, right? I called him into the kitchen, I interrupt his game I said “Gavin, I need to come into the kitchen and run the dishwasher” and he says to his friend “Time out.” And his friend said why. And he said, “I have to go run the dishwasher.” And his friend said why. And my 4 year old looked at him and paused and said, “I guess my mom doesn’t know how.” [laughter] And I was like fist pumping in the air in the kitchen where he couldn’t see me because obviously I was consistently remembering to ask him to do this. They’re really good at feeding pets when they’re five or six years old and putting water in water bowls. They’re really good at clearing plates and dishes, they can help set tables. You know I- and I do have resources, free resources for parents that give you chores, but I want to give some of my more bold suggestions. In my house when my eldest turn- No. When my second son turned 7 the day before his birthday his big brother was like, “You’re so excited you’re turning 7 tomorrow. And he was like, “Wow, my big brother’s noticing my birthday!” And he said, Because now you have to do the laundry.” So without missing a beat the almost seven year old turned to me and said, “Well what does he have to do? And I was like, “Oh, I love this question. Let me think about that.” So I thought about it and I delegated the stuff that I really can’t stand to do, because it makes me much more patient in teaching it to them because I know I’m getting it off my plate, and also I’m much more tolerant of them not doing it perfectly because I didn’t have to do it. And the thing after the laundry that I most hate doing is making school lunches.
Rebecca: [00:17:58] Yes.
How to manage school lunch-making duty
Doctor G: [00:17:58] So in my house between the ages of 9 and 11, because my kids are two years apart, you make everybody’s school lunch.
Amy: [00:18:04] Wow.
Rebecca: [00:18:06] Wow. What do they make? Is there at least a rule about what they have to do?
Doctor G: [00:18:10] Yes. So actually we made a chart. So we made, like a- we made a grid that hangs on our bulletin board where we listed every single thing that they might possibly be able to pack for main dish, side, snack, and vegetable, and drink. Right? And then there’s just a grid across, like I listed everything they might possibly have access to in our house to pack if I grocery shop the way it would be necessary. And then they went across and put a checkmark or an X to say if they would eat it.
Amy: [00:18:38] That’s brilliant.
Doctor G: [00:18:39] And then depending on, because the way our school lunches are not all the same kids need lunches the same day, the kid between 9/ and 11 takes this chart down and has to figure out what they’re making for who, and it’s led to these amazing experiences, like for one time I called home and I got their dad and he was like, “Shh, hang on, I’m hiding in the dining room listening to the most amazing argument in the kitchen” and I’m like OK. So he holds the phone so I can hear it. And it’s the 10 year old saying to the 6 year old, “I can’t believe you didn’t eat your lunch. I worked so hard to pack you a healthy lunch that you like. [laughter]
Andrea: [00:19:14] That is so funny.
Doctor G: [00:19:17] And the 6 year old is like, “But it was Billy’s birthday party and his mom brought lunch for everybody! I’ll eat it tomorrow. I’m sorry.” [Amy laughing]
Amy: [00:19:27] Oh that’s awesome.
Rebecca: [00:19:27] Do they do it the night before?
Doctor G: [00:19:30] Yeah they make them the night before. We are not morning people. Mornings need as little in them as possible.
This takes a lot of planning
Andrea: [00:19:37] It sounds to me like this is super awesome and efficient, but I think it takes a lot of planning and work on the parents’ part to set it up. Like-
Doctor G: [00:19:48] Oh for sure.
Andrea: [00:19:48] Yeah. I mean it’s kind of like, you know, it’s a smooth operating machine once it’s set up and it really falls on the parent to make this happen. It’s not just that you can delegated to your kids and say, Here you do this I’m tired of it.” So I love hearing all the planning that goes into setting it up so it works properly.
Consequences for not doing chores
Doctor G: [00:20:09] Right. So it’s absolutely true that used to be really stubborn on the front end, and a little bit organized. I’m not actually a tremendously organized person. It took me a really long time to come up with an idea for lunches, and lots of the eldest kid making lunches for everybody that they were like, But I didn’t like that!” or “You gave me the thing he eats!” or “I’m not the one who wants that!” You know. So it just sounds like I knew this upfront but I absolutely didn’t. And people are welcome to benefit from all of our mistakes and scratching at each other. And when you get this rolling you do have to be willing to- And I don’t I don’t like nagging. I think having to nag is disrespectful and I think nagging is disrespectful. So my kids know that you get one reminder for free. But after that you get a consequence for the disrespect of not doing what you were asked to do that’s separate from not doing the chore. So if my son forgets to make lunches which absolutely can happen because evening schedules can get really wack. So if my son forgets to make lunch then their school has a- You can get a hot lunch but it cost you five bucks, right. So that five bucks comes out of his allowance. That’s the consequence for him not making their lunch. If I reminded him to make lunch twice and he still didn’t do it there’s a separate consequence for not listening. That’s where you need your stubborn. Because it doesn’t take too many times either of losing five bucks or in our case sometimes 15 bucks out of your you know saved up allowance, or too many consequences for, you know, cancel playdates or whatever for not listening before they’re like, “Oh, this is for real. I got to do this.” But you have to be that consistent. And that as a parent I find to be the hardest thing.
Chores and allowance
Amy: [00:21:52] Now you brought up saved allowances. And one question that I see online all the time is, “Should I tie allowance to chores?” Because I know that for me personally I just felt like allowance was kind of your pay for being part of the family and it helped me in that they weren’t coming to me with, you know, can I buy this can I buy that, like it’s all their decision and I’m out of it. So to me, like, chores are separate, you just have to do your chores and you get a punishment if you don’t and your allowance is separate. But so many people pay their kids for their chores and that’s their allowance. How do you feel about that.
Doctor G: [00:22:27] So in general when people ask me questions about their traditions at home I give a guarded like, well, you can do this or you do that, whatever you want to teach. In this case I would give you a flat out no. Don’t pay your kids for chores because, two reasons. One, some chores you couldn’t pay someone enough, right? So it’s really easy, if you’re paying me five bucks to clean the bathroom, and by the way, yes, your eight, ten, twelve year old can learn to clean the bathroom, and, and if you are boys it will improve their aim. [laughter] In any case, there are days where as an adult in the house if I was getting paid a certain amount to do certain chores I would be like nope, not worth the money. Because if you’re paying me to do chores there’s the implication that I could quit. I can say no, you can keep your money I’m not doing that. But the bigger issue is it sets up a totally false expectation about what it’s like to be a grownup. Nobody pays us to do the chores at home. It’s just part of being a citizen in the house. So I have reasons for making you do these chores and I haven’t even mentioned my most compelling argument for having kids do chores and that is every single thing that your kids can learn to do for themselves is a waste of your time to do. Not to teach, but to do. You need your time not to sit on the couch and scroll through your phone and eat bonbons. You need time to do the things your kids can’t do. Like, notice when one of your kids is having a really hard time and needs some extra emotional attention. Or, file taxes. There’s so many things we can’t delegate to our kids that everything they can do for themselves, you shouldn’t be in the weeds doing. I don’t want people to pay their kids for chores but I do want them to give their kids allowance. And it’s interesting. I don’t think of it so much as money you get for being in the family. I think of it as practice, and exactly what you said, this way you decide if that impulse buy is worth it to you. I don’t have to decide if it’s worth it to me because guaranteed, it’s not gonna be.
How to set up allowance for kids
Rebecca: [00:24:23] So how do you, how did you set up allowance in your home.
Doctor G: [00:24:27] We do allowance that- and I couldn’t for the life of me remember to have the right amount of change every week. When my kids were little somebody found these fantastic piggy banks that are separated into four, each of the four legs, and there’s save, spend, invest, and donate. And if you guys don’t mind, I’ve no, I’ve no attachment to this product except that I really like it but I’m happy to tell people where to order it. If you’re interested.
Amy: [00:24:51] Sure.
Rebecca: [00:24:51] Yeah
Amy: [00:24:51] Yeah.
Rebecca: [00:24:52] We used it too.
Doctor G: [00:24:53] Cool. It’s called Money Savvy Pig dot com. And I loved them except I could never remember to have quarters and singles and stuff like that for them to do, so I started using an app online that would automatically debit imaginary money and then they could come to me and ask how much they had in their account for save or spend. And spend, that’s their impulse buy money. So however much they’re getting 10 percent goes in to donate and a third, 30 percent, goes into the other three. And the spend they can use on whatever they want that’s legal and ethical and allowed in our home. So if they’re allowed to play a video game and they want to use it for in-app purchases they can, and if they’re allowed to watch this particular video and they want to buy it on Amazon or whatever they can. And whatever it is, whatever the toy is or whatever it is. But for save they have to have thought about it and and waited for it a little while. That one’s about delayed gratification. And then the invest they’re hanging on to. The donate, we actually do a pretty benevolent matching program, so if they’re doing a Thanksgiving fund-drive, fundraiser at their school and they want to give five bucks we also kick in five bucks to match it. So they’re bringing in 10.
Learning adult skills
Rebecca: [00:26:02] So I have to say I. I’m feeling for your youngest because as the older ones start to go away is he going to have to take on all the chores? [laughter]
Doctor G: [00:26:15] No. So my kids- that video that you guys saw actually went up a little while ago. My youngest is now 10. And so everybody just does their own laundry. And that’s also been really good roommate training for them. They’ve had to learn what to do when they go down to do their laundry and somebody else’s stuff is sitting there in the washer clean but not dry. And they’ve had to learn to say to somebody else, “Hey listen I really have to wash this stuff for my game tomorrow. Can I, if I move your, you know if I put your stuff in later can I have the washer.” So they’re learning what I hadn’t really thought about which is like how to be a decent roommate. The boys have another five months of the youngest making everybody’s school lunches and then they’re each going to have to make their own school lunch, which is also I think an important adult skill.
Rebecca: [00:27:04] Yes for sure. I mean I think that school lunch is a big one.
Andrea: [00:27:08] I love how you’ve tied it to adult skills. I mean it may not have been what you thought about when you when you first came up with these ideas-
Doctor G: [00:27:14] No I thought about having less on my to do list.
Andrea: [00:27:16] Yeah right. Exactly.
Doctor G: [00:27:16] It was absolutely selfish.
Andrea: [00:27:17] But being able to tie it to an adult skill or learning how to deal with a roommate. I mean, it’s just- it kind of explains to kids, here’s what you’re learning and here’s why you need to know it. Which I think is where many chores just fall down. Most kids just look at it as, oh crap I have to take out the garbage again.
Doctor G: [00:27:35] And one of the things that I really, I really want parents to stress is that they’re not taking out the garbage for you.
Amy: [00:27:42] Hmm.
Doctor G: [00:27:42] And I think that’s something we often say, “Will you clean the table for me. Will you empty the garbage for me.” Which implies, this is solely my responsibility and you’re doing me a favor. And kids really internalize that. Really it’s, “What are you going to do to help our family run a little bit more smoothly?” And it doesn’t take until our kids are 25 or 30 for them to notice the advantages. It takes them 12 seconds to notice the disadvantages. No question I’m the meanest mom on the planet and I’ve heard that plenty. But they also talk about what’s good about it. You know my eldest son went and spent his sophomore year abroad in high school. And when people would say to him, “Aren’t you worried, aren’t you scared” you know, “How will you be able to handle everything?” One of the things that he said, and I didn’t because it hadn’t occurred to me, because he was going to a place where I wasn’t thinking about the chores he would have to do. He’s like, “Listen, I don’t like doing everything for myself but there’s nothing I might have to do for myself that I haven’t already figured out.” And some of those things, even though this might not sound you like chores or you would think of his chores, some of the responsibilities I really encourage parents to give to kids themselves is when your kid comes to you and says, “I need a haircut” be like, “OK, let me know when you’ve scheduled it. And if you need a ride.”
Rebecca: [00:28:53] Yeah that appointment one is a big one. I know so many people whose kids could not make an appointment.
Doctor G: [00:28:59] It’s a big one. Appointments and forms.
Rebecca: [00:29:02] Yeah appointments and forms, because also kids this generation, they’re not comfortable on the phone, so they don’t even want to call.
Doctor G: [00:29:08] Right. And so making that appointment and just coming to me and saying, or you know my son who’s 16 calling me and saying on a Sunday morning when I was out at work, saying, “Hey, the 10 year old and I both want a haircut. We were going to take the bus over to Supercuts. Do you mind if I put it on the credit card.” Right? I loved that entire sentence.
Amy: [00:29:28] Yeah. We um, we got our kids debit cards a couple of years ago and it made things like that a million times easier because if my son is on the way home from school he’ll just go get a haircut and then tell me later, Hey I it on my debit card, can you pay me back for the haircut?” And I’m like, “This is so easy.”
Doctor G: [00:29:43] It’s so easy and it really helps them. Every time kids have forms, camp forms, you know, field trip forms, like whether it comes home in their backpack or it gets emailed to you, I sit my kids down at the computer and I’m like, “Hey, your camp forms are in and you probably want to get those done, they’re due by next Sunday.” And they have to ask me certain things but I want them doing all those forms to the level of their ability because then when they get to filling out forms for college or summer programs or things like that they don’t feel frozen. They don’t feel stuck.
Amy: [00:30:15] I, I- my rule is bring it to me with everything filled out that you can possibly fill out and then I’ll do the stuff that you can’t do. And then-
Doctor G: [00:30:21] Right.
Amy: [00:30:21] We needed to do college forms last night. And my poor son- like the immunization part of it is so hard. Like trying to figure out- cause like the terms aren’t the same on the immunization form and the college form.
Doctor G: [00:30:35] Right. Right. Sure.
Amy: [00:30:35] And finally I was like, “Go to bed. I’ll do it.” Like I just, like if it’s that hard for me… I was like, I’ll take this one.
Doctor G: [00:30:42] Right. But that’s just you doing someone you love a favor. There’s nothing ever wrong with that. If your kid’s job is to take out the recycling and they had a game that ran three hours late and extra homework and you just compassionately say, “Hey, let me do that for you.” That’s lovely.
Amy: [00:30:58] Hmm.
Doctor G: [00:30:59] That’s also teaching them to be a good roommate, a good partner, a good family member.
Amy: [00:31:04] That’s an interesting point because it kind of goes back to parents, you know, when they don’t want to overload the kids, if you recognize that they’re overloaded you’re just doing them a favor you’re not like letting them out of their responsibility.
Doctor G: [00:31:16] And I hope that when you’re having a really busy crazy day you ask them to do something that normally you do, or if they offer, you don’t say “No no no no no. My self-worth is wrapped up in the idea that I can do everything with no help.”
Amy: [00:31:29] OK. Again you’re watching me. [laughter]
Rebecca: [00:31:32] Well this was an amazing conversation. I’m so happy we had you on. This is so helpful. Like now I’m thinking we have to have another conversation about like if you waited until your kids were 16 or 17 and what you’re going to do to catch up.
Amy: [00:31:45] Uh-huh.
Rebecca: [00:31:45] But we’ll have that conversation later. But thank you so much for joining us today and we definitely want to have you back and not because you posted another video that was insane, but like I think there are a million things you could talk to you about. So-
Doctor G: [00:32:00] I so appreciate this because I think what this conversation does is the thing I really want to do which is to allow families to enjoy each other more.
Amy: [00:32:09] Huh.
Rebecca: [00:32:09] Oh that’s such a nice concept. That’s-
Amy: [00:32:11] Really.
Rebecca: [00:32:11] Like that’s a whole- I mean seriously it’s like a whole other conversation. And I think that one of the points you brought up about kids needing to be needed rather than just adored is so essential I think. Because I hear all the time like, “Oh we’re, we’re having- my kid is such a good kid. They deserve that.” And I just always feel like it’s such a weird signal to send to a kid that like, you’re a good kid, therefore we’ll do everything for you without giving them any responsibility or, I don’t know self-worth that’s based on something.
Doctor G: [00:32:45] I think you’re totally right. I think that the sum up of this is that the best part about chores is it gives you an opportunity to prove to your kid that you have real faith in what they’re capable of and their competence and that you’re willing to rely on them.
Rebecca: [00:32:58] Yeah that’s huge.
Andrea: [00:32:59] So can I have a do over.
Doctor G: [00:33:03] It sounds actually from what your son’s girlfriend said that things are going pretty well.
Rebecca: [00:33:07] Yeah.
Andrea: [00:33:07] Yeah. Yeah. But it’s just so interesting listening to you because I can’t even imagine having said, “Oh you need a haircut? You know you can walk up there. Go get a haircut.” You know, it just sounds like a whole eye opening way of doing things that I hope a lot of people really listen to this conversation and take it to heart and try to adapt some of it.
Rebecca: [00:33:28] Yes.
Doctor G: [00:33:29] Thanks.
Rebecca: [00:33:29] Thank you.
Doctor G: [00:33:30] And I really do have resources to make this easier and less overwhelming and to handle the hiccups and the real obstacles that can come up. So I hope people reach out if there’s any way I can be helpful.
Amy: [00:33:41] Oh, we will, if you want to send them we will link to them all. We want to help people as much as possible because your resources are fantastic.
Rebecca: [00:33:47] Yup.
Doctor G: [00:33:48] Thank you so much.
Rebecca: [00:33:50] Thanks. Bye.
Andrea: [00:33:51] Thank you.
Rebecca: [00:33:53] We will be right back with our Bytes of the Week.
Bytes of the Week
Rebecca: [00:33:57] We are back with our Bytes of the Week. Amy, what do you have.
Toy Story 4 Easter eggs
Amy: [00:34:01] Ok so the next Toy Story movie, Toy Story 4, is coming out on uh, well, tomorrow. And I think a lot of people are going to be seeing it this weekend. I’m going to try to even though my sleeve is still wet from seeing Toy Story 3 in the theater.
Rebecca: [00:34:15] I know.
Amy: [00:34:17] Oh my God. And I came across this really great blog post from a site called Guide for Moms and it talks about how there’s a scene in the movie that takes place in an antique store. And there are Easter eggs from every single Pixar movie in the antique store. So I’m just giving a warning to everybody before they see the movie. So like pay extra attention. I think it’s not really going to be useful until we can see it on video and pause it and go in slow motion, but pay attention in the theater when you’re seeing the antique store, because there are just things from the other Pixar movies everywhere. And Pixar is known for doing this, like they they have things from other movies in- like in Finding Nemo there’s like a Buzz doll in the waiting room in the orthodontist’s office. But this is like all of them in one location. And I- I just can’t wait to see it. I think that’s a really nice touch.
Andrea: [00:35:20] That means you’re gonna have to see it twice.
Amy: [00:35:22] It might happen anyway.
Rebecca: [00:35:24] That’s what they’re counting on. All right Andrea.
Princess Ocean Medallion
Andrea: [00:35:28] I’m excited for that movie too. So you guys know that I was away on a cruise two weeks ago and I’m really not a cruise person at all. And I have to say that I enjoyed it so much more than I thought I would.
Amy: [00:35:43] Oh yay.
Andrea: [00:35:44] Yes I did. But here’s what I loved about this cruise. It was a high-tech cruise. And I don’t mean high tech where everything was techie, I mean high tech in the sense that technology was used as a way to expedite things you were doing on the ship and to make your experience more personal. So I went on a Carnival Ocean Medallion Cruise. Back in 2017 Carnival announced this at CES. Amy I don’t think you were there that year were you.
Amy: [00:36:18] I remember you telling me about it. I don’t think I was at the announcement.
Andrea: [00:36:22] Yeah. So they finally rolled it out and they literally had to take these huge ships out and outfit them with sensors and make them able to use, to utilize the technology. But here’s the cool thing about it in a nutshell: it’s like a medallion the size of a quarter that you get in the mail before you get on the ship. Everything you do is done beforehand. You give your passport information, you fill out all your information that you usually do when you arrive at the ship so that when you get to the ship you simply tap this medallion onto their tablet. Your picture shows up because you’ve uploaded your picture and all your information is there. And it’s really cool. I was traveling with a girlfriend who’d been on many cruises and she looked at me and she said, “That’s it? That’s all we have to do? This usually takes an hour!”
Amy: [00:37:12] Mmm-hmm!
Andrea: [00:37:12] And then throughout the cruise, it was really cool because you could sit in a chair anywhere on the ship and order your piña colada or order lunch. And because it’s got a G.P.S. tracker in it the person delivering whatever it is you have ordered knows exactly where to find you.
Amy: [00:37:28] Oh that’s awesome.
Andrea: [00:37:29] It is like you never have to move. Of course we did move. And getting on and off for excursions, same thing. You get off the ship by tapping this medallion, they know you’re off. You get back on by tapping the medallion and they know you’re on. So it makes it so much easier for the crew. And of course it opens your door. You just walk up to your state room and your door opens because it’s reading your medallion. And one of the neat things was I was in the boutique one day and this elderly woman was shopping and she found something she loved and she said, “Oh I really want this but-” and she looked at the cashier and said, “I don’t have my wallet with me right now.” And the woman said, “Just tap your medallion.” And she was so shocked that she could pay for it with her medallion.
Amy: [00:38:12] Well that’s what they’re counting on. It’s friction-less!
Andrea: [00:38:14] It’s so easy.
Rebecca: [00:38:14] Right, they’re all copying- they’re all copying Disney. They’re copying Disney, right? Disney started with the MagicBand and now they’re all like, that’s the best thing ever.
Andrea: [00:38:23] Interesting that you should say that, the person who designed this for Carnival is John Padgett, who created the MagicBand for Disney.
Rebecca: [00:38:29] Right.
Amy: [00:38:30] Oh wow!
Andrea: [00:38:31] Yeah, yeah. They hired him and so he did an amazing job.
Amy: [00:38:34] So it works.
Andrea: [00:38:34] It works. There are a few things that didn’t work perfectly, but all in all I thought it was great. I’m gonna be writing an article about it so we’ll link to the article when it comes out. But it was fun. It was it was fun watching technology really kind of facilitate the experience and personalize the experience.
Rebecca: [00:38:57] That’s awesome.
Amy: [00:38:57] That’s great. I’m so glad you had a good time.
Rebecca: [00:38:59] Me too.
Andrea: [00:38:59] Oh I had such a good time. I’ll post a picture of my zip-lining.
Amy: [00:39:03] Oh wow! Yeah, send that we’ll post that.
Andrea: [00:39:05] It was fun.
Teen financial checklist
Rebecca: [00:39:07] Oh my God. That’s awesome. All right. My byte is kind of along the line of our last guest, but a little bit different. It’s a New York Times article called A Financial Checklist for Your Newly Minted High School Graduate.
Amy: [00:39:20] Mmm!
Rebecca: [00:39:20] And I actually don’t think you have to wait for them to graduate to do this. So could be your newly minted teenager. But it talks about like while you’re doing all these things like getting the dorm bedding and the- like here’s the stuff that’s actually super important, and it goes through every single thing you should need. So from budgeting apps to setting up bank accounts, mobile pay systems, information hygiene they call it which is understanding when and where you actually might need to give your Social Security number and where you really don’t.
Amy: [00:39:50] Oh!
Rebecca: [00:39:52] All that kind of privacy stuff, doctor’s insurance cards and meds, I know Doctor G mentioned, you know, having your kids filling out forms, but they were saying even like because your kids can stand your health insurance until they’re 26 they should understand like if they have a job maybe they’re not going to college right away or maybe they- college and job. They should understand what copays are, that they might have to pay at the time of service. You might want your kid paying towards the deductible if they have a job but they’re still on your, your thing, um, your insurance. And how to fill out a W-4 form. They suggest setting up a Roth IRA for your kid if they’re making any money at all, because it will reduce their taxable income and- or reduce the amount that they might be required to pay for financial aid calculations.
Amy: [00:40:36] Huh.
Rebecca: [00:40:38] You know, authorized user credit cards, doing a credit freeze if you want to do that because your kid’s probably not on top of their stuff, it was just an- it’s an incredible whole thing. It goes through all the health forms you need your child to sign so that you can have access to their medical records while they’re in college. Otherwise you have no say whatsoever. It was just really fabulous. Also things like renter’s insurance if your kid is living off campus. It was just really great. And they even go through if your kid is enlisted, if your kid is joining the armed forces, all the things you might need for that. So it’s a great article. I highly highly recommended it, it’s basically a perfect checklist has to go through with your kid. You know one thing they talk about too which I’ve had different conversations with friends about this is making sure that your kid, if you fill out the FAFSA that your kid fills it out with you.
Amy: [00:41:29] Too late.
Rebecca: [00:41:31] Which I thought was really interesting, because- well, you have next year, every year you have to do it again. But every- parents feel differently. A lot of parents don’t want their kids to know what their income is and all that. And his point is like, your kids should know, you know, money shouldn’t be so secretive and they should see what goes into filling in these forms and what, why why the you know whatever the final determination is made and all that, it was really an interesting conversation. So anyway I highly recommend this article. We’ll put a link to it and that is my Byte of the Week. So thank you ladies.
Andrea: [00:42:06] Thank you.
Amy: [00:42:06] Thank you.
Rebecca: [00:42:07] It was a great show. And we will have links to everything we talked about today. You can find it all on Parenting Bytes dot com and on Facebook dot com slash Parenting Bytes. You know, listen share rate review anywhere you listen to podcasts. And as always let us know on our Facebook page if there’s something you’d like us to talk about or if you have questions for Doctor G. We will collect questions and have her back for a future podcast. So please send us your burning parenting questions. Until next week. Happy parenting.
Amy: [00:42:37] Bye.
Andrea: [00:42:37] Bye!
Rebecca: [00:42:50] Hey, this is our Parenting Bytes disclaimer. Everything we talk about on the show is our own opinion. Any products we recommend, it’s our own personal recommendation for entertainment purposes only. If you buy something through our affiliate links, or you just happen to buy or see or read or watch something that we recommended, it’s at your own risk.