Summer Slaves


My kids are out of school. My 2nd graduated and she has been having fun applying for jobs and feeling the real world pinch at her (or is that me?—Pinch—“Go apply for more jobs!” It might be me.)

I’m excited for summer because now my younger kids have lots of time to work for me.  I’m not kidding. They owe me money for summer camps.  So, in essence, they are my slaves until they pay me off (lucky for them I don’t use the whip).

First thing to work on is weeding the back yard.  Since I haven’t paid money to put down weed barrier around my edges yet, and we had wonderful spring rains and colder weather that made Roundup useless, the weeds have grown as tall as my kids—about 7 feet tall.

I love when my kids are motivated to work.  It sounds something like this:

“Mom, can you drive me to the store?”


“Because we have a Kohl’s 30% off coupon and I want to buy a new pair of shoes.”

“Don’t you already have about 50 pairs of shoes?

P1030427“But they’re old.”

“How much money do you have?”

This is a trick question, because if they have any money, then they have to bring it to me to put towards their debt.

“Uh.” [the sound of cranking gears as my daughter’s brain turns trying to find a way to go to Kohl’s still]

“Why don’t you go weed?” I say.

With a sullen, defeated expression on her face, but pretty, sparkly shoes on her feet, my daughter goes out and does just that.

I LOVE summer!


25 thoughts on “Summer Slaves

  1. 3 1/2 more days and then I will start putting my kids to work using your summer incentive program too! Time to earn some school clothes and fun stuff!

  2. I like this concept of debt being paid off. What a great way to help them learn about finances.

  3. I’m going to show this post to my sons, so that when they whine to me about having to vacuum the basement or clean their toilet, they’ll be glad I never made them pay for their summer camps. I like your style!

    • I pay half, but I have to do this to limit their wants. My daughter still wanted to do a x-country camp even though she hadn’t paid me off for 2 others (it’s just an easy way for me to say No…and if she REALLY wants the 3rd camp, she’ll kick in on asking for more chores, which she hasn’t yet)

  4. Sounds like my kind of parenting! My daughter is almost five, so she’s just now getting into regular chores. She can’t do tons independently yet, but what she can do is glorious. Having her make her own bed and clear the table is awesome!

    • It’s good to start them young! They love helping then and it molds them into more responsible kids when they’re older–so they don’t expect things without doing something for it.

  5. The big summer money maker for students in my home town was detassling corn. It was good money but some of the hardest, sweatiest work you can do. If your kids did that, pulling weeds would feel like a cake walk!

    • Oh, I bet it would! I picked corn once at my dad’s and itched for hours afterward. I must have been allergic to it. I’m not going to sign up for detassling any time soon.

  6. so sharp! my daughter hated weeding, and inherited my love of shoes! she went to work at a clothing store, and I was certain she’d never bring home a paycheck because she’d use it to buy ‘stuff’ but boy was I wrong…isn’t parenting awesome, full of those momentary surprises? enjoy her while she’s still home, they soon fly away! 🙂

    • Yes, one’s gone already…the 2nd leaves in a few months…and then only 2 left. Wah! I am enjoying them thoguh…especially when they’re weeding (just kidding about the weeding part, but only a little).

      • hehehe…they’re nowhere without our guidance, or our horrifying suggestions…can hear the rant now, “MOM, really?” 🙂

  7. My kids often volunteer to pick up leaves and weeds in the backyard when I’m gardening so I can’t complain. My five year old also likes to vacuum once in a while, I hope it lasts! Good idea to have them work to help pay for their camps and activities. It doesn’t hurt to learn the value of money early on. I also prefer it if kids can find a job they’re really interested in and can learn a lot, rather than have a job to have one. When I was doing my student teaching, this student had to work after school so he could pay for the insurance for his car, so he could drive to work. Hmm, that didn’t make much sense, especially when he had no time left for homework!

  8. My two-year olds take turns with the vacuum and it’s awesome. They miss lots of spots, but I just let them go at it until the battery dies. I’m hoping their interest in cleaning continues.

    • And with twins, you can probably make work a competition over the years. Who can clean the living room the fastest? Who can pick up the most toys? I love those type of games.

  9. Sigh! we still have 3 weeks to go before school’s out… but i pay my son in tickets (which he collects & redeems for whatever prize he is aiming for at that time) – he cleans/feeds his Gerbils & vacuums – not garden to weed… lucky him 😉 However, recently he doesn’t seem interested in the ticket system anymore… time for a new strategy i guess… any suggestions? 😉

    • I make my kids buy their own clothes and school supplies (because I was sick of them thinking they deserved them for doing nothing). I pay them so much money per half hour of reading and then have extra chores all summer they can do to earn extra money. They can also earn money for writing book reports, fiction stories, an art portfolio and learning new pieces of music that are harder than their level. They love the reading charts and look forward to them each summer. The other things I pay based on effort and time, and what I know they’re capable of. That’s what I do, but sometimes you do just have to change things up when one method doesn’t motivate anymore. Good luck…and enjoy your summer.

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