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The 36-Hour Day

with Amy Urquhart

I’m Amy and I’ve spent the last three years trying to strike that perfect balance between being a wife, mom and professional career woman. I’ve decided that I’ll never perfect the art of “having it all”, but this blog is a chronicle of my attempts to continue to do so. I’m a blogger (my personal blog about Canadian home life is Hearts into Home), gardener, college instructor, wife to Graham and mom to Nate. If you’re also a working mom who finds there just aren’t enough hours in the day, I hope you’ll enjoy this column!

Read her blog at Hearts into Home.

Do you bribe your kids?

Categories: Hacking Life, Making Time, Parenting, The Juggle, Uncategorized, Working? Living?


My youngest kids have discovered the value of money and, since I’ve been trying to instill in them the value of earning money, rather than just receiving money, right now they’re all about doing random chores for a quarter.

“Mama, can I earn some monies?” my 4-year-old son asks, dish rag in hand just in case I say yes.

“I made my bed this morning! All by myself! Without anyone telling me to!” chirps my 6-year-old daughter. “Is that worth a quarter? Or is it worth two quarters?”

I’m thinking they may be ready to start getting an allowance, even if they’re too young to have anything to spend it on. But while I contemplate how often and how much, I’ve noticed that I’m starting offer up a quarter here or there in exchange for, well, a minute or two of peace.

The peace takes the form of happily occupied kids, of course — it’s not like I’m offering them 25 cents to let me finish this blog post. (Though hmmmm…. nah, they’re in bed already.) But if they’re happily occupied swabbing down the lower cabinets in the kitchen, or dusting the bottoms of the bookshelves, or folding a heap of freshly laundered towels, then what’s the harm?

Sometimes, the bribe is some extra TV time — another episode of “The Avengers” (my boy is in full-on superhero mode), maybe, or “Phineas and Ferb” (quite possibly one of the best kids TV shows out there, in my opinion). Sometimes, it’s double dessert in exchange for finishing dinner in a reasonable amount of time (they are pokey eaters) or letting them dip their apple slices in the leftover maple syrup at breakfast if they eat all of their pancakes first. Sometimes, it’s game after game of “Mario Kart” on the Wii while I’m on deadline and working from home.

But even when the bribes are relatively healthy, they’re still bribes. I’m still saying, “I’ll give you X if you do Y.” And, at some point, they’ll catch on — and then they’ll be the ones doing the negotiating.

Do you bribe your kids? With what… and does it work?

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3 comments so far...

  • I say if it is a reward for work then sure! My “reward” for doing my job is $$$. If I don’t work, I don’t get money. I don’t bribe double desserts but my theory on desserts is if you’re too full to try any of the dinner you’re too full for dessert.

    Hey, learning how to negotatie could serve them well in future negotiations around “real” jobs. ;-)

    Mich  |  March 4th, 2011 at 6:23 pm

  • I do offer my kids the chance to earn money for doing stuff like yard work. I do this on purpose to teach them about the value of money, etc. - not because their yard work makes my life easier, LOL.

    In the house, I generally expect them to fulfill certain responsibilities as a member of the household, with no pay. However, if we’re having issues with something, I will make everyday goodies contingent on whether they meet a certain standard.

    For example, we’ve been having issues with dawdling. So I may tell them that in order to get their tasty vitamin/fish oil this morning, they need to do xyz by a certain time. Or, if we get to daycare before 9am, one of the kids gets to punch the buttons on the security keypad. However, I don’t use money or special treats to bribe them to do stuff they should do anyway.

    I believe in allowances, but we haven’t started that yet (my kids are 4). It doesn’t seem to fit into our weekly routine. When I was a kid, I got an allowance at age 5 (paid in returnable glass pop bottles), but I was able to tag along with my older brothers as we walked to the nearby store on Saturday mornings. My kids don’t live anywhere near a store and have no older siblings to follow around. So they’ll need me to take them somewhere to spend their allowance, which somehow doesn’t seem the same.

    SKL  |  March 5th, 2011 at 2:46 am

  • I bribe with dessert (for eating dinner) and allowing TV before bed (table manners, cleaning room). I think there was something in Parents magazine that said setting up “incentives” is OK, but offering a bribe to stop bad behavior while it is occurring is not. I’ve certainly been guilty of the latter in the past (my daughter calls jelly beans happy pills b/c they cure tantrums) but I’m trying to set up consistant incentives going forward.

    ROK  |  March 6th, 2011 at 10:27 pm

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