Perhaps the greatest thing about living in a farming community is that there are ALWAYS ways to make money as a kid. I’ve been moving lines since I was 12, and also babysitting, much to the chagrin of the poor neighborhood kids. It blows my mind when kids don’t begin working until they hit college, because kids should be working as soon as they’re old enough to ride their bike to the store and spend YOUR money.
Many people will make their kids get a job when they’re 16, which is actually a bit old, in my taste. My little brother and sister were paid $6 an hour by my dad’s boss to go in the cow pens and pick up twine and metal pieces when they were 8 and 9 years old, receiving a paycheck with their name it for their hard work. Kids by the age of 10 know what a dollar is, and how it’s spent, so they should be getting out there in the volunteer and work force so they understand that if they have to make $20 on their own, that’s HARD work.
I remember my dad waking me up at 4 AM when I was 5 years old so I could ride in the bucket of his truck and feed the calves their bottles. I remember every summer being saddled with some job or another, usually picking rocks out of fields and then graduating to the scale house, where I’d sit for 12 hours a day weighing harvest trucks for $7 an hour. As I got older still, I got the privilege of sticking my hands up cow’s asses with thermometers and preg-checking and vaccinating them and dehorning then alongside my dad. To this day if he needs help with vaccinating the 4h cows, I’m there!
Make your kids volunteer for something in your area and pay them for their volunteer work rather than an allowance. Make them get a newspaper route job, have them babysit, etc. I know a 12 year old boy who teaches karate to other kids for his school clothes money, and he loves it. He babysits, too. Don’t make your kids wait until they can drive to get a job- in fact, have them work with you if they are able. My aunt brings her young kids with her in the afternoons to her salon to sweep floors and bring her supplies for their job.
Kids can do a plethora of jobs that aren’t farm related. They can be dish washers, kennel cleaners for a vet, bus boys, and volunteers. I’d say if you haven’t shoved you r kid out the door to work or volunteer yet, and they’re over 10, get their lazy bums moving! Even my fiance’s kids have jobs- besides doing 4h every year, their grandfather has an acre of land they have to plant and care for, and they get to keep the benefits for college. That’s an acre for each kid that they have to maintain, but they also get the profits.
The results are kids who don’t beg, because they have a taste of what it’s like to work for your money. When we take the kids out for dinner, they order the cheapest item they can find or try to claim they’re not hungry, looking sheepish. We get water without question, and allow them to all order what they’d like, reassuring them they’ll be working it off later doing yard work. They’d be doing yard work anyhow, but now they think they’re working for it.
There’s no harm in making your kids work at a younger age. If your kid is 16 and has never had a real job, they are sorely missing out. Kids who work young know how to balance work, play, and school already so they can work harder and longer throughout college, and not complain about it. The summer is a great time to get your young ones out there volunteering and working, so they can begin providing their own income and feel great about themselves. Imagine- the sooner you get your kids working, the less likelihood you have a 20 year old still bumming in your house! It’s a win-win for all!