Monday, May 18, 2015

Beware The Trap

"What do I get?"

That's what my kids say these days when I ask them to do something. Forget the kindness of lending a hand or the good feeling that comes with a job well done. They want compensation, preferably money, proof that their time was well spent and worth it.

How did we get here?? Would you believe it started with some House Rules?

When Ethan was a toddler, I wrote our first list of rules along with a Thomas the Train chart for good behavior. Following rules, the train went up the track. Breaking rules the train slide back down. When Thomas got to the top, there was a reward of stickers or something small like bubbles or a match box race car. And so it began...

Through the early kid years, we've tried other charts/reward systems. My kids needed a lot of motivation. I remember one year we had a tree that we added leaves on for good choices.

Another year, they earned tickets that they later turned in for a prize.

It was all so innocent then.

Then the time came where we felt that our kids needed to know the value of a dollar so we started to give them an allowance. We felt it was important for them to learn responsibility for saving and spending their own money. Occasionally, they would earn an extra dollar or two when they helped wash the cars or took part in a big cleanup project. I was proud of the hard work but lately the lesson has become a slippery green slope when I see them repeatedly measure other moments in currency with that "what's in it for me?" mindset.

This isn't what I had in mind for "waste your time, wisely". 

Nor is the realization that this isn't just their problem. As an adult, I see myself fall into the same mental trap. The bigger challenge for me is that the thought is so subtle now, it's unconscious, I don't even stop to say the words, but the feeling is there and it plays into my day. It's hard to make choices that I sometimes need without the guilt that my time would be better spent (says my brain) in other more productive ways, especially when it comes to money.

In a world where we are taught that "time is money" and "money never sleeps" where can one go to truly waste time?

Lucky for you, I've got an article on the subject!


"Ever since a clock was first used to synchronise labour in the 18th century, time has been understood in relation to money. Once hours are financially quantified, people worry more about wasting, saving or using them profitably. When economies grow and incomes rise, everyone’s time becomes more valuable. And the more valuable something becomes, the scarcer it seems."

Give it a read and see if you see yourself, too, caught in a world of dollars and how to make sense of it all.

Happy Monday!

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