By Brian Coatney
Erin Phillips remembers the days when toys were everywhere on her floors and furniture. It was a clear sign that her sons, Dylan and Colton, were in the house having a ball.
“They could destroy a room real fast,” she said.
On a mission to get the mess under control, Erin, a student at Hopkinsville Community College, and her husband Zach, an Army staff sergeant vet technician, decided it was time to introduce their sons to chores. They started with picking up toys.
“Before nap time, we all pitched in and tried to make it fun,” she said. “We would sing silly little songs and made up stuff.”
The boys, now 7 and 6 years old, handle their own bathtime and feed the family dogs, a German Shepherd and a Jack Russell terrier.
Dylan, the oldest, likes bathing and feeling clean, whereas Colton hates baths and doesn’t mind skipping a few. Like toy pick up, Erin knew she had to make it fun, so she brought in a bucket of toys, a loofah and tablets to color the bathwater.
It didn’t take long before the fun wore off, and Erin was tired of having to bug them about their household duties.
“It was time for them to take responsibility for a few things,” she said.
The boys began to want spending money, so a large, dry-erase board appeared on the kitchen wall. Erin divided it in half and outlined their daily chores.
Everything on the list can get done in about 20 minutes. The boys take pride in telling dad what they’ve done and earning their own money.
“I have to remind them at times since they’re little, and they get busy,” Erin said. This often means a family huddle by the dry-erase board. “They really get into it.”
Every Saturday is payday. They started out at $3 a week but can now earn up to $5. Erin said they aren’t big spenders yet.
“It’s more fun to spend someone else’s money,” she said, so they are good savers. “They will save about $40, and then go shopping, but many times not even buy anything since shopping is still an overwhelming experience.”
Some of their smaller purchases include a few snacks or little things that catch their interest. Dylan splurged last year and bought a pair of basketball shoes on clearance at the PX. He wore them every day to school.
There is an old proverb, “Necessity is the mother of invention,” and the Phillips family has invented well.
By Brian Coatney