Tween Life Lessons: Work Ethic & Earning Money

A couple weeks ago, my 9 (and 3/4!) year old daughter accidently broke one of my favorite coffee cups that was given to me by a dear friend.  This isn’t the first time this has happened.  In fact, I think that was #3 or maybe 4 over the course of a year.

As you know, I have many favorite coffee cups and tend to attach sentimental value to each of them.  However, I also realize they are just cups.  Emily was so upset over breaking “the really special cup that one of your good friends gave you”, but I reminded her that the cup being broken does not affect my friendship with that person. 

She was so upset and through her tears she wondered, “Why am I always the one to break them?” and “Why are they always your favorite ones?”.  I joked that God was using her to purge my coffee cup collection!  I also reminded her of 3 important things:

1) SHE is the one responsible for emptying the dishwasher and putting away clean dishes.  She handles them more than I or Rob do, so she has more opportunities to drop them than we do.  

2) She’s growing and learning.  She’s learning how to handle the dishes, how she needs to hold them, how to slow down and be careful.  She’s at an age where clumsiness can sneak in as our bodies are changing. 

3) Of course they are my favorite ones! Those are the ones I use and the ones that end up in the dishwasher.  She’s never broken one that was tucked back in the corner of the cabinet, right?  My mom and I always joke about this – why do we always break our favorite things?  Because we USE them!


I was fully prepared to extend grace to her (again) in this situation, because I’ve sure broken my share of dishes.  In fact, both Rob and I broke dishes at my mom’s house this past Christmas.   However, Emily insisted that she wanted to replace the cup for me.  She wanted to save up her money to buy a new one.  She earns money each week for certain jobs around the house and she was committed to not making any other purchases until she had bought me a new cup.

What integrity at such a young age!


A few days ago, she came to me and asked if she could do any extra jobs around the house to earn money faster in order to get me the cup sooner. 

Extra jobs? Around the house? ABSOLUTELY! I have plenty of those.


Saturday came and I presented her a list of available jobs along with the price I would pay her to do them.  She’s a smart cookie and chose the higher paying or faster jobs first! 

The choices I gave her were:

* Clean the flower bed in the backyard (remove all weeds and dead leaves that had accumulated) – $3.00

* Remove the branches in the yard that were a result of the ice days when part of the neighbor’s tree fell in our yard, and set out by the road for trash pick-up.  — $1.00

* Vacuum & clean out my truck (includes throwing away trash, bringing things inside that belong inside, wiping the dashboard, and cleaning the inside of the windows) – $3.00

* Clean my bathroom (she already does her own) – $1.00

* Clean the flower bed in the front yard (just leaves mostly, there weren’t any weeds), and a pile of leaves – $2.00

* Clean up a pile of dead leaves in the backyard – $2.00


She chose the 1st 3 and she worked HARD!  She spent about 2 hours working on the flower bed, another hour cleaning up sticks/branches, and at least an hour on the truck.  It was a warm, sunny day so she worked up a sweat for sure.  We made sure she took water breaks and a lunch break with a fruit smoothie – we aren’t mean, you know!

We paid her for each job as it was completed, and seeing that money come in helped motivate her to keep going.  It was hard at first as she had unrealistic expectations about how long the flower bed would take but a little encouragement and ideas on how to make it fun got her going again.  We encouraged her to put on her headphones and some fun music like we do when we mow to help the time pass.  She also gave herself little goals like “I’m going to clear all the way to that stone in 10 minutes”, and that helped to push her through.


At the end of the day, we rewarded our “employee” with a $2.00 bonus for her hard work and great attitude!  She never quit or complained, but instead showed an incredible work ethic we are proud of.


Yesterday, she took me shopping to pick out a new cup!!  I ended up not getting a hot coffee cup though because I found something else that will be perfect for my warm-weather iced coffee drinks!  In fact, I came right home and made one.   I love mason jars, and I love the color teal so this was perfect!  I didn’t even use all her money.  I assured her I would not make her spend more than I would spend myself – and I’m pretty cheap! We found it at Hobby Lobby for half price, so she spent $8.55 on it.


We are so proud of her for all her hard work, and I know that I will enjoy thinking of her every time I use my new mug!

2 thoughts on “Tween Life Lessons: Work Ethic & Earning Money

  1. WOW!!! That is a SERIOUS worker bee!!! Amazing work ethic and genuine sense of good morals. You two are doing it RIGHT! Just the idea that she was eager to do the right thing. <3

    (Tell her that she could have gotten it cheaper in Delaware.) 😀

  2. What a hard worker you have! 😉 I started this with Amelia the other day, but realized after the fact that I over paid her. $4 for something that took her about 15 minutes… I thought it would take longer. Oh well I’ll learn. I need to add cleaning the van out to my list! 🙂 I like the cup!

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